Hongkong 2011

I just got back from my epic Hongkong – Taiwan – Jakarta vacation! so epic that I took a million pics and am too lazy to blog about it now. but i’ll suck it up and do it anyway.

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Day 1 – Getting to HKG

I flew out of Singapore at around 1pm, and landed at HKG at 5pm. Serena, my travel buddy + friend from high school + facebook wife, doesn’t land till 45 mins later, so I scampered around the airport mooching free wireless to organize how to meet up with her. Thankfully we were able to meet up right away (I waited near the exit, and caught her). We immediately took the airport express to Kowloon station while catching up along the way. I talk to her online a lot, but I haven’t seen her in person since maybe 2-3 years ago! You know the friendship is real when you haven’t seen each other for that long and still able to pick up right where we left off ;)

The airport express train ride is super comfy – the train is super nice with cushy seat and cheap too: HKD 160 for round trip (about US$20). Anyway, we got to Kowloon station after about 30 mins of train ride, took the taxi to our hostel which was located at Chungking Mansion in Tsim Sha Tsui. We found later that this location is extremely convenient. It’s smack dab in the middle of the city so it’s only a short walk or a few MTR station rides from most of our destination. We stayed at Ashoka Hostel, which was very cheap and clean with friendly staff but it was very small place (think dorms in universities). Doesn’t matter to me since I’m not very picky about where I sleep as long as the bathroom is clean.

We didn’t do much that night since it was already pretty late by the time we were all settled and ready to get out. So we had a quick kebab dinner and walked around the vicinity of our hostel.

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Day 2 – Cable Car, The Big Buddha and Avenue of The Stars

We woke up early that day and took the MTR to Tung Chung in Lantau Island, which involved some line changes and a whole lot of walking. As soon as we got off the station, we were greeted by the cable car station that takes us to the Big Buddha in the mountains. We were immediately approached by some ladies selling tickets and opted to buy a one way ticket on cable car and a bus ride back down the mountain. The line to get on the cable car ride was quick and we were able to enjoy some nice view while we were up there, though it was mostly cloudy/foggy.

After what felt like 25 mins on the cable car, we started to see a glimpse of the buddha from afar. yes, it is THAT HUGE that you can see it from miles away!

About ten minutes shortly after, we arrived to Ngong Ping village. We didn’t really waste time there as we wanted to get everything done quickly so we have time to explore the city later on, but I did snap an image of this wishing tree we passed by on the way.

Walked to the direction of the buddha, and finally reached the foot steps. Then we climbed all the way up!

This picture was taken when we were already more than halfway up, so you can imagine how many steps there were. We were pretty exhausted by the time we got to the top!

After taking a few pictures and enjoying the view, we descended the stairs and visited a nearby temple, then we rode the bus down (which took almost an hour!) back to Tung Chung MRT, and onwards to Causeway Bay, since it was on the way. Afterwards we headed off to Women’s Street, where they sell a lot of stuff for cheap! I got my new iPhone cover there, among other things.

Yeah, it’s a fake Paul Frank cover and I’m normally not one to buy fake things, but this is just way too cute!

Anyway, I bought a new bag there. We actually saw it on the first day as we were walking up Nathan Road to explore around, but I didn’t buy it then. I couldn’t stop thinking about it so we went back to buy it that night.

The bag is called “Badi” from Jipi Japa. It wasn’t exactly cheap for a brand i’ve never heard of before, priced at HKD800 (about US$100), but the material feels solid enough that it may last me awhile so i figured it was a good buy. Serena got herself a fobby furry bag from the same store, which seems to be all the rage in asia. They sure like their (faux) fur…

Getting a second wind from our tiredness, we decided to walk past our hostel and onwards to Avenue of the Stars.

It took a lot of walking but it was well worth it. The view of Hong Kong island from this point is just breath-taking!

Feeling pretty tired, we walked back to our hostel and called it a day.

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Day 3 – More Women’s Street and Lan Kwai Fong

A friend told us to try some mango dessert while we’re in Hong Kong, so that’s exactly what we did, first thing in the morning:

Mango mango mango everything! So yummy! and at HKD40, it was a steal.

After dessert (yes, that was our breakfast) we headed off to Mongkok MTR to explore nearby shopping mall called Langham Place. Serena wanted to check out a Hello Kitty store there but we found out it was actually seasonal and when we got there it was already over… so no kitty picture for us.

The place does have a cool architecture in the food court area. Also i saw an H&M store, which I haven’t seen since I left Cali two years ago! :D tried on a cute little wool hat but I didn’t buy it since I know I won’t get much use out of it in Singapore

Serena decided that she wanted to buy more things from Women’s street, so we headed back there.

I stopped on the way to try out some Hong Kong street food. Basically everything was deep fried and sooo unhealthy, but yummy :3 I got something that I thought was a skewer of deep fried fish balls, but as I bite into them there was this cheesy thing oozing out from the middle. “cool,” i thought, having never seen or tasted fish ball mixed with cheese before. It wasn’t until later that I found out it was actually crab roe. yuck!!

Afterwards we had dessert at this cafe nearby our hostel. We saw a long line there the night before so we figured we’d give it a try. I got something called Ice cream shaved coffee, which is exactly what it was… shaved ice cream, piled up generously and served with some jelly, marshmallows and chocolate.

After that we took a little breather before deciding what to do next. Serena was still jetlagged and wanted to nap before going out, so I went by myself and got myself a new teddy bear patterned scarf. I was getting bored with my other one! (pictured above)

Then we headed back to the hostel, and got ready to hit up Lan Kwai Fong area.

Took the MTR to Central station, and had a quick dinner at a place recommended by a random Hong Kong travel app I downloaded from my iPhone.

We sort of just ordered things at random, but I’ve got to say, we were pleasantly surprised by the dishes! The place is called Lin Heung Teahouse on 160-164 Wellington Street. It’s more of a family restaurant as evident by the many families there celebrating birthdays that night, but we were still very pleased.

Walked back to the vicinity of the MTR station. Serena had a friend who recently opened a wine bar in that area, so we decided to give him a visit, at California Wine Bar on 77 Wyndham St. He had a very cool wine bar concept. Upon arriving, guests are allowed to purchase cards loaded with HKD which you then use on any one of the wine dispenser machines that are covering the bar, wall to wall.

You can then opt to purchase a tasting portion, half glass or full glass. They have a wide selection of wine available as well. If I remember correctly, there were 12-16 machines within the place, each serving three different variation of wines.

The place itself wasn’t big, but very chill and cozy, with just the right amount of people. I’m impressed they managed to fit all of the machines into the bar without making the place look cramped. It looks pretty empty in the picture since I took it late into the night, but when we were there all of the tables were pretty much occupied.

I basically listened to them catching up while enjoying chocolate souffle and dessert wine :) both very tasty!

Checked out the crowded main club street of LKF before heading back to the hostel.

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Day 4 – Macau, Star Ferry and The Peak

Running out of things to do, we decided to take the ferry to Macau. I had visited the place back in 2009, and everything pretty much remained the same so I was able to guide us to the touristy spots there. We took the ferry from China Ferry, which was within walking distance from our hostel.

The Portuguese egg tarts were as good as I remembered.

The alley way leading up to the ruins of St Paul Cathedral, which is pretty much the only spot worth going to in Macau in my opinion. No pictures of the ruins since I’ve already taken so many of it in my previous macau posts. After spending a few hours, we walked back to Lisboa casino (Serena made a pit stop and bought an awesome white fur japanese coat) and took the next ferry back.

For dinner, we headed to Knutsford Terrace, a nice little alley in Tsim Sha Tsui full of various restaurants.

We settled at Spice retaurant which offers a mix of Thai, Malay and Indian dishes.

Ordered Pad Thai, Tom yum soup and Chicken Tikka. All very yummy, but I did find them to be quite pricey… the bill came out to be HKD164 (US$20) – comparable to the price of a dinner in the US!

Full and happy with the dinner, we made our way to the Star Ferry terminal. Saw this random place on the way there..

Reminded me a bit of california for some reason… also if you’re wondering what the guy is taking pictures of, scroll down.

Cute!! so christmas-y!

The star ferry ride was short and sweet, and unmemorable in my opinion… but it is a better way to cross to Hong Kong Island instead of just taking the subway there.

We were greeted by sparkly HK skyline once we got off the ferry.

This might be my favorite picture i took of HK. reminds me of gotham city!

We took the bus up to The Peak, which is exactly what it was.. The peak of a mountain overlooking Hong Kong! the bus ride was long and windy, and once we got up there it was so freezing cold that may hands were shaking as I took these pictures.

Took the tram back down, which literally took us STRAIGHT down back to Hong Kong. It was almost like riding a roller coaster since at some point i was sure we tilted were more than 45 degrees downhill!

Hong Kong skyline is so beautiful!

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Day 5 – Fly to Taiwan, goodbye HK! :(

Flew Eva Air to Taiwan, for the next part of our trip. For anyone plannign to travel from HK to Taipei, be prepared to pay a hefty price for such a short ride. I paid nearly US$300 for one way there, and it was the cheapest flight I could find :'(

I like that they still serve you a meal even when the flight only took 1.5 hrs.

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