Saturday, December 15, 2007

Hongkong Experience

JJ and I availed PAL’s Great Getaway (50% off on Mabuhay Miles requirement for certain routes) promo last December 2-5. Our destination? Hongkong J

It was my first time to visit the country but JJ’s been there once when he was 8 or 9. We initially thought of getting a land tour package but since a number of JJ’s officemates have been there in the last few months, we decided to do away with the package and plan the tour ourselves. And we were glad we did J

After booking the flights, the next step was to look for place to stay. We were initially scouting for three-star hotels and we were almost sold in spending US$80 a night for the room. Good thing Prec and Christie recommended the hostel they stayed in, Dragon Hostel. We immediately checked the website and hearing good things from the two girls, we inquired for room availability via email. Sadly, they were booked for the dates we mentioned. We continued our search and found another hostel, Dragon Inn Ah Shan Hostel, in the same building as Dragon Hostel. Luckily, they have a room available for us. We booked it by paying the downpayment online. The room was small (just enough space for a double bed and a bathroom but for US$ 30/ night, it was a great deal) but really clean. The room is air-conditioned, they have hot and cold shower in the bathroom and there is a ref in the hall where you can store food. If you’re planning to tour HK the whole day and just sleep and shower in your room, then this is the best deal.

JJ and I had our itinerary planned before leaving. We already searched the net on how to go around HK, where to dine, where to shop, how to get to the hotspots. We also bought HK dollars here in Manila for convenience but we were glad we had that task done here as the rates are better. (Check out Czarina’s money changer in Glorietta 1, second floor). For extra money, we just brought a little cash in US$ and credit cards. Since JJ and I are bent on going around via public transportation, we also asked JJ’s officemates about the Octopus card. We also found information about the card online. The Octopus card is a card that is used in the MTR, buses, some stores and restaurants.

We took the first flight out of Manila for us to go around HK on Day 1. Sayang kasi yung araw if we will arrive in the afternoon. Upon arriving, we immediately purchased on-loan Octopus cards from the information booth at the airport (Cost is HK$ 150 where $100 is usable and the $50 serves as a deposit. The deposit will be given back to you less $7 handling fee upon returning the card). We used the card to pay for the bus fare from the Airport to our hostel in Mongkok area.

Day 1. We went to the shopping areas in Mongkok. We visited the electronic goodies shops, some outlet stores. We also went inside toy shops to check out Transformers stuff for my hubby’s collection. Cameras are much cheaper in the area. We were also able to buy perfumes (again at a cheaper price) at Sasa, a shop selling make-ups and other beauty and grooming products. We also went to the Tsim Sha Tsui (TST) area. We went to Ocean Terminal to check out the Toys R Us store in the mall. The view of Central HK from the Ocean Terminal is really nice. After dinner, we went to the Cultural Center to watch the Symphony of Lights show.

Day2. Ocean Park day J First thing we did upon arriving at the place was to check out the schedule of the shows so we can plan our day around it. The shows were okay though I find the dolphin show at Subic’s Ocean Adventure better than the one at the Ocean Park. My husband and I had fun with the rides (though I was surprised to realize that I was braver than him when it comes to trying out the scary-looking ones J). The only sad thing about traveling as a couple and opting not to bring a tripod is the lack of opportunities to have pictures together. We were always asking for other people to take our pictures and luckily, everyone we asked readily agreedJ (but then again, a lightweight tripod is one more thing to buy before our next trip). Ocean Park closes at 6PM so we were able to squeeze in a tour at the Victoria Peak after. We had dinner at the Peak and took pictures. It was cold up there L but the trip was well worth it. One tip for Ocean Park (and Disneyland for this matter): though the brochure says that food/drinks are not allowed, they don’t really stop you from bringing it in. JJ and I didn’t even bring water because we thought that they were strictly enforcing the said rule (ala-Splash Island) but they were not naman pala. It will be wise to bring in water and some snack items like cookies or chips if you want to save money J For breakfast, JJ and I bought bread from bakeries inside the MTR stations. Then we usually buy drinks and snack items from 7-11 (na mejo nagkalat dun. As in parang every street meron).

Day 3. Disneyland. Though the rides are much tamer than Ocean Park’s, I had a grander time here. Do not miss these shows: Festival of the Lion King and The Golden Mickeys. We also enjoyed the Space Mountain ride, the Stitch Encounter and Autopia. Sadly, we lost like a hundred shots taken from this day of our trip. The camera’s memory card just gave up on me. Good thing we were able to save the remaining pictures in our PC before the memory card completely conked out. (At least we have a reason to come back :0 ).

Day 4. Causeway Bay. Our flight was scheduled at 6PM but we have to check out by 11AM. We checked out by 9AM and just left our stuff at the hostel’s office. (The hostel staff are really nice though we usually use sign language to understand each other :D ). After breakfast, we went to Causeway Bay and discovered that there are more places to shop there J We had lunch in the area (we were looking for a dimsum place as we are yet to eat siu mai and siu bao but no such luck, one more reason to go back :D) and then went back to Kowloon Island via ferry. After getting our stuff from the hostel, we sadly took the bus again to the airport. Hay, vacation over na J