Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Travel Diary: Revisiting Hongkong and Macau

Before the year ends, Ryan, Mai and I have this annual tradition of planning the next year particularly things we want to do like events in the city we want to go to and travels. Last year, we decided on Iloilo (my idea. Read here why) and Cambodia. Unfortunately, we're still unsuccessful with making the latter travel a reality. Hongkong and Macau were not in our radars mostly because we've been there before. It's the first international travel we had us as friends.

This travel was originally just a couple's trip (Dom and Ryan's for their 1 year anniversary) but the invite was extended to us friends. Traveloka had a promotional seat sale tie up with Cebu Pacific with round trip tickets that cost around Php4,000 only. Cheap enough right? But that's not what made me say yes. What it was, was a spur of the moment decision. Driven by a desire to go looking for some sort of adventure. That's how I unexpectedly found myself coming back to Hongkong and Macau. 

Meet my travel companions 



The guy in grey is Rej. He's a friend from the gym. At the back of him is Ryan, Dom and me, the only girl in the group. This is the four of us on a ferry ride to Macau. This was supposed to be a bigger group actually. There were supposed to be six of us but the other two dropped out a couple of months before our expected travel dates due to different reasons. 

Where we stayed 

Our Hongkong-Macau trip was set for 4 days and 3 nights. Since we settled our accommodations early on, we decided on booking through Airbnb because we were a big group. We stayed here - a 3 bedroom apartment near Prince Edward MTR station in Kowloon. I forgot to take actual photos of the place (partly because I guess I was too tired) so just view the photos from the link. 

At Php4,000+ per person for four days, it wasn't a bad deal already. Bonnie, our host, was nice enough and so was her place. While the location reminded me of Carriedo in Manila, only a bit cleaner, overall I thought it was a good enough place as it was near convenience stores, food stalls and restaurants. 

The places we went to

Most of the places we went to, I've been to the first time I was in Hongkong and Macau but this was Dom's first ever travel abroad and Rej's last visit to Hongkong was way back when he was still a kid. It meant showing them the usual tourist sights to visit especially Disneyland because well, it's the happiest place on earth! I would skip them if it were just me but I'm glad to revisit most of them again because my first visit went by in a blur, I don't remember a lot of them if it weren't for the photos.

Ngong Ping Village

This was our first stop and everyone's first time to see the place. This place located in Lantau Island is where you will see Po Lin Monastery and the Tian Tan Buddha. To get there, you will have to ride a cable car. We picked the crystal cabin which is a wee bit more expensive than the standard one but if you are after the view and photo opp, then this is the way to go.

I had a peg shot for the crystal cabin cable car but I couldn't bring myself to get up and transfer to the other side. I got scared of the height. LOL!


Photo taken by Dom

Check out the view from our cable car ride:





At the entrance to the monastery, you'll find this large triple arch white stone, called the "Mountain Gate" and it is adorned with three pagoda statues that lead to a wide pathway. 


Photo taken by Rej

Po Lin Monastery. Taken by Dom

The famous Tian Tan Buddha. I climbed up those steps, you betcha! I climbed up the 272 steps up to the Batu Caves in Malaysia so the 268 steps up was a challenge I certainly will take. 




Disneyland (of course!) 



We're on the train that will take us to the happiest place on Earth!


The guys excitedly showing off their Disney cards 


These cards make a cute souvenir 

I wish I met Mickey Mouse while we were there. Or any of the Disney characters. Maybe a Disney princess. There was a Woody meet and greet at Toy Story Land but we got there too late. But what we did do is ride, ride, ride.

I'm not really into rides especially those that have fast turns, will take you really high up or have a lot of sharp turns because I'm honestly a scaredy cat. Even when I was a kid and my parents and my ninongs would take me and my kinakapatid to Star City every Christmas, I would only ride the safe and tame attractions like the Carousel. Do you guys know that even the ferris wheel scare me? Ha! Ha! 

But I embraced my sense of adventure even more and mustered courage to go on those fast roller coaster rides with both Dom and Rej while we were in Disneyland. Ryan was left holding our stuff while waiting for us.


My I'm-trying-to-enjoy-this-ride-but-I'm-scared face captured on camera during the Hyperspace Mountain ride. Ha! Ha! 

Don't tell me it's just a roller coaster. I am well aware that if kids are allowed to ride such attractions then I could ride the darn thing. But well, they must be brave kids! Good job to them. LOL! And if you think I got scared during this ride, you should've seen and heard me when we rode the Grizzly Gulch attraction. 

I had no chill the whole time I was in those rides! I screamed my lungs out and I gripped the handles so tight. Rej, who was beside me during the scary rides, remarked that my reaction came as a surprise because I'm really a quiet person by nature. Confession: I cried a bit because I got so scared at the Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars. And yes, they all found it amusing that I was that scared! Rej and Dom were nothing but chill during the rides. They had a blast with every fast turn. With every sharp turn and most especially with every drop of the ride.  I begged out when Rej asked us to ride the RC Racer in Toy Story Land. I know I would have cried a whole lot more if I joined them. I might even faint from fear. 

Macau

Because Macau is just a ferry away from Hongkong, we went to visit it as well. It was both Dom and Rej's first time. You don't have to have your money exchanged even if Macau has their own currency called Macanese pataca. Most vendors there accept Hongkong dollars. 

We went around checking out the casinos (naturally!) because Macau is the Las Vegas of Asia.  

At the Venetian. Taken by Dom




Here's me posing by the Grand Lisboa casino because Rej offered to take my photo here as well when he saw Dom ask Ryan to take his. I wasn't about to say no to such an offer! 

Photo taken by Rej


Victoria Harbour



Taken by Rej

Rej said he knew I wanted my photo taken even without asking him and so he took it. Honestly I was just looking at the distance but I was definitely thrilled at the result! 

Hongkong Cultural Center 

Taken by Rej

Choi Hung Estate 
Taken by Rej


This is one of my favorite shots. I was just sitting there in one of the benches when Rej asked me to take a photo of him. He taught me the kind of shot he wanted. I'm not the best photographer of the bunch but Ryan and Dom were busy taking photos of each other so I guess he was stuck with me!😜 And then he offered to take my photo too and look at that! Another photo worth sharing on Instagram. 

I love him for being so nice as to take my photos even when I wasn't asking. He's got the skill! You should see his photos on his Instagram page. Definitely appreciated him for using his photography skills to take not only amazing shots of the sights to see in Hongkong and Macau but also me. I hope he goes on more travels with us and if he does, I hope he takes more Instagram worthy photos of me! Ha! Ha! He's now part of the roster of my favorite people to take pictures of me.😆

Struggles and learnings in Hongkong

Ngong Ping was such a popular tourist place! Even with Klook, we had to fall in line for a really long time. We ended up being hungry and quite thirsty since we came there straight from our flight. While Rej bought siomai to snack on and since he was generous enough to share his food with me while we waited for Ryan and Dom, I shared with him the drink I bought. Unfortunately it's not the kind of drink either of us became happy about. 


I thought was a lemon flavored drink because of its yellow packaging. LOL! It turned out to be Chrysanthemum tea and the taste just made me want to barf. But beggars couldn't be choosers. I finished this drink because there was no mineral water sold at Ngong Ping. So there's a little tip for you - bring your own snack and water! 

The girl who doesn't use chopsticks had to use them all the time in Hongkong and Macau! I struggled of course. 



I know I'm probably holding the chopsticks in an awkward manner but trust me, I managed! But maybe next time, I'm going to bring my own cutlery! For my own good as well.  

And there's not a place in Hongkong and Macau that offer service water. Our host, Bonnie, did tell us that their tap water was not advisable to drink so we always had to buy mineral water. I tried not to think too much about Mother Nature and how I'm harming it with my single use plastic. 

As for food, we tried to eat at different spots everyday. My favorite was at Temple Street Night Market. They were hole in the wall restos that offered affordably delicious food. Although Coral Cafe is also a good place to eat! But for breakfast, we were always at the same place. 

   

That's right! McDonald's even in Hongkong. It was close to where we were staying. 

We didn't get to go to Victoria Peak even though it was part of our first day itinerary. We didn't expect that we'd be held up in Ngong Ping for so long. Since it was booked via Klook, we couldn't just reschedule it to another time. Too bad. Lesson learned: don't book all activities at once! 

Well I did Klook my way around Malaysia but I was with my mom and her friends! My companions in Hongkong were younger. More exploratory. So I guess it's best to have some flexibility in the schedule. Klook can be a really useful app. But just how much maybe depends on certain factors like the kinds of companions you're with; the activities you'll be getting and the schedules.    

The things I learned about my travel companions

I read that if you really want to get to know people, you should travel together. It makes sense. You'll be spending a whole lot of time together away from your usual routines and comfort zones. So what can I say about the people I traveled with? 

Well I've been traveling with Ryan for years now so I have a pretty good knowledge of how he is. For one thing, I know that he's a very organized person. Case in point: these travel documents all labeled accordingly.

 


He likes things scheduled and planned in detail. You don't leave things with Ryan with a simple answer as "I don't know." or "Will figure it out later." when he asks you a question about your trip.  That's why in our group, he's always the planner. We let him do the itinerary because it's just easier for all of us. We know we'll be in good hands with Ryan on top of everything. 

Dom? He wanted to be at the airport as early as 3am! Our flight was at 7am. Super aga!  He said he's really very conscious of time when it comes to travels. Well we were at the airport one hour later. He's also an early riser. I'd wake up and find he's finished taking a shower and already prepping to go.

He was also the supportive partner to Ryan who's left with the task of getting us to the places we want to go to. Still as nice as he is when we're just in the city. He doesn't get cranky even if we're walking a lot. He looked like a kid just having a blast exploring a new foreign city. 

Dom also knows how to take good photos. Here's him taking a photo of Ryan. In this day and age of Instagram, you know what they say? Find someone who likes taking photos of you! Ayan #jowagoals. Now where can I find someone who'll like taking my photos? LOL!


When it comes to getting his photos taken, he sure knows how to strike a pose. He'll give you cute and he'll give you quirky.


He looks young though doesn't he? Like he's still in his teens? The casino guards in Macau seemed to think so because he got carded twice! But he's actually already in his late twenties. He's also very game when it comes to theme park rides - he was Rej's riding buddy when we went to Disneyland. Overall, just an easy going person to be with. 

And as for Rej... well he's a laid back kind of traveler. I got this impression from his simple requirement that we go to Disneyland during our trip and his request to go shopping because he wanted to buy rubber shoes. I guess it comes as no surprise as well because he prefers beach travels where he can just lay down; eat; sleep and drink beer more than city travels. But I realized that more during our travel since he was my usual companion, naturally.

He's an early riser. He was always the first one up among the four of us even when he was the last one to turn in. Mobile Legends kept him up all night. Still, when I wake up, I would find him all ready to go. He even managed to prepare hot water for us in case we wanted to drink coffee during our second morning in Hongkong. Amazing. I have a hard time dragging myself out of bed every morning. Really not a morning person. 

He's got quite a sense of humor. I've seen that humor when he sometimes cracks jokes and does silly things at the gym. I just saw a whole lot more of it while we were in Hongkong. 

Case in points:

Guess who's bright idea it was to hang that water bottle in the MTR so we wouldn't have to hold it for awhile? That's right, Rej's. 

  
That amazing sense of humor even seeps in on the kinds of poses he would do when it comes to getting his photo taken. There's no need to ask him for a wacky pose 'cos that what's what you'll often get! 




He sure likes his beer. He told me on our first night in Hongkong that he planned on getting wasted. This was taken at Temple Street Night Market where we had our first dinner. He didn't get drunk. He just had this one mucho beer all for him. I think that's a good thing that plan fell through. I just couldn't imagine how he would manage to have the energy for all the walking, sight seeing and rides that we would do if he got hung over. 



Overall Experience

I would say that my four days and three nights in Hongkong was very tiring. We were always sleeping late and waking up very early. We were also walking a lot. But I don't regret it at all. I liked the experience of traveling with Dom and Rej because they were just so easy going and they gave us no trouble whatsoever. And of course, do I even have to say it? I loved traveling with Ryan! I like that he's in charge and all I gotta do is follow. I guess it helps that we're now better at traveling. By that I mean, we have our itineraries. We knew the sights we wanted to see and how to get there. We also knew how to budget for it.

I only wish our travel was longer because the anticipation of the trip was long and then travel time came and it seemed to have just gone by just like that. I supposed time flies when you're having fun.  I hope there would be more travels in the future. And I hope I get to do that with them. Because I would do it again. And again. And again. 




     







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