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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Hongkong and Macau Leisure Trip


Frolicking around the Avenue of Stars at Victoria Harbour, one of the most popular tourist spots in Hongkong. We just discovered this area accidentally while strolling around the Hongkong Museum of Art (Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon). 

Got to travel abroad six months before the expiration date of my passport, yeah beating the deadline of renewal haha!

This is a DIY (do-it-yourself) tour. We did not book a tour guide because it's a bit expensive, so months before our departure, I spent enormous time reading and researching information and tips online about travelling to Hongkong and Macau and got important information from backpackers and travellers who had also done a DIY tour.

But despite going there for the first time with no one to fetch us at the airport, I was not afraid at all, the idea of being lost never scared me, I was even more excited because of the experience and learning I would gain from this adventure, besides I want to explore things beyond my knowledge so this DIY trip is a perfect opportunity. I want to test myself how far I could go with my courage and freedom :-)

I’ve long been dreaming of traveling abroad, it’s one of my fantasies in life, ever since I was a kid I kept wishing I could embark into a leisure trip outside the country before settling down!  Ahem...but yeah, seriously, it's part of my definition of "contentment and satisfaction" in life. The idea seems liberating.

Well, in life, nothing is impossible if you worked hard on it, when you are really determined to do something, to reach the unreachable, everything will just fall into place.

Months before this trip, I was a little anxious, very worried where to get my budget because I still have to pay my graduation fees in Ateneo, the high cost of our tuition for the last three years left my wallet already bleeding in despair!But a burning longing to take a short trip abroad kept thudding inside my mind that I thought the world will turn upside down if I would not do it soon, so when an opportunity came in, I did not hesitate to jump aboard hehe!

To reconcile my budget, I began embracing a monk lifestyle haha! I saved every cent I got in my wallet, managed to cook my meals and became a full-fledged vegetarian, I only took grocery when necessary,  and did not attempt to dine outside, in other words I sacrificed more than 70% of my freedom in spending!

I was very careful with my expenses that even riding a trisikad was a waste of money in my mind :-) I listed down all the expenses needed for the travel and set a specific amount to spare, so every pay day I knew how much I should put aside to balance my budget, luckily for me, Google Adsense sent my publisher's payment on the first week of May so it was a big help.

Unlike other travellers who saved several months, even year, before the trip, I had very little preparation because I was only informed by my friend, Miss Maribeth Galindo, coordinator of the social science division in the university I worked with, around February. I contemplated hard if I would really join because I still have to prepare for my graduation in April with skyrocketing expenses. The fact that I just finished my comprehensive exam made me to think twice. But because the expiration date of my passport is fast approaching like a roaring train and June is the last period where I could use it legally, I agreed to join and closed my eyes wishing God will do a miracle for me. I asked some signs that if the round trip ticket will only cost less than 8,000 I would proceed.

On February 28, 2013, after checking the promo rates of Airasia, I got the sign I was asking, the round trip ticket—Davao Clark Hongkong – costs only 7,990! Now that's what you called--miracle hehe! 

Here’s the list of the total expenses I incurred (I used the exchange rate of HK$5.30 for this computation). The amount below is in Philippine peso.

1. Round trip ticket: Davao-Clark 3,990.00
2. Round trip ticket: Clark-Hongkong 4,000.00
3. Bluefields Hotel – Clark (one night) 520.00
5. Delta Hotel – Kowloon (4 nights) 2,550.00
6. Ocean Park (Online booking) 1,390.00
7. Octopus Card 795.00 (HK$150.00)
8. Round trip Peak Tram plus Sky Terrace 398.00 (HK$75.00)
9. Meals (4 days) 680.00 (I brought 3 sachets of nesvita and oatmeal plus a pack of biscuit)
10. Cotai Jet round trip (Macau) 1,805.00 (HK$340.00)
11. City Guide for one day (Macau) 265.00 (HK$50.00)
12. Pocket Money 7,200.00 (exchange rate given to us by Shayman at Aldevinco was HK$5.55)
13. Terminal Fee (Davao going to Clark) 200.00
14. Terminal Fee (Clark going to HK) 450.00 
15. Terminal Fee (Clark to Davao) 200.00
    Travel Tax  should have been P1,650.00 (we failed to pay this at the Clark airport, it was an honest mistake)

TOTAL EXPENSES: Php 26,093.00 

We were not able to go to Disneyland and Ngong Ping 360 because of time constraint but if you decide to go there, the amount to prepare will rise to more or less P30,000.00 because Disneyland is HK$450.00 and Ngong Ping round trip is HK$134.00 then you have to reload your Octopus Card because the transportation from Tsim Sha Tsui to Lantau Island, where the two attractions are located, is around HK$90.00 more or less.

Lantau Island is far from our hotel so I and bechay did not bother to go there instead we just strolled around Tsim Sha Tsui visiting Victoria Harbor and Avenue of Stars. I have no regret anyway because if we pushed through with it we would never enjoy Disney because that day the weather in Hongkong was severely hot (we already experienced it at the Ocean Park and I did not dream to make a repeat performance) but towards 6:00 to 9:00 in the evening the environment turned gloomy with heavy downpour so the excitement of fireworks display, considered as the highlight of Disney experience, and all those itchy bitchy moment of fun, might be compromised and we will just be wasting our precious hard-earned money hehe!

We just stayed at Tsim Sha Tsui and continued our adventure of strolling and wandering around Nathan road, crossing the street with no particular way to go other than entered at every department store/boutique we passed by. We enjoyed this little trip anyway :-)

If you are travelling on a tight budget and just want to stay in a transient room, I would recommend Delta Hotel instead, I could really vouch that the room is very clean and conducive for sleeping.
Our room at Delta Hotel, rate is around Php627.00 per night or HK$118.00. Very clean and safe. Free wifi and there's a small private bathroom with shower, each guest is provided with bath towel and freebies like shampoo, bath soap, toothbrush kit, telephone is also available. There's water dispenser posted just outside the room and refrigerator, plus, the hotel has friendly staff :-)

Delta Hotel is located at Chungking Mansion (on the 16th floor) along Nathan road of Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon just a walking distance from MTR station, bus station, HK China Ferry Terminal (for Macau), KFC and McDonalds.

Chungking Mansion is just beside CKE department store, there's also a money changer at the ground floor and Western Union. Tsim Sha Tsui is one of the most ideal places to stay in Hongkong because aside from closer to MTR and bus stations, it is nearer to shopping malls and stall markets for pasalubong

OUR DIY (do-it-yourself) ITINERARY: 

DAVAO TO CLARK
Departure: May 31, 2013, Friday 4:35 pm
Arrival time: 6:10 pm

We were 11 in the group traveling for this trip but we had different flight schedule for Hongkong because we booked separately (9 of them have the same schedule) so I and Bechay travelled to Angeles City to spend one night at Bluefields Hotel, but folks, I would never recommend this hotel for you, so untidy and undesirable.

CLARK TO HONGKONG
Departure: June 1, 2013, Saturday 6:25 pm
Arrival time: 8:10 pm

Amazed to discover that the air travel from Clark to Hongkong is similar to the distance of travelling from Davao to Clark or Manila!

The weather was fine when we took off so everything was calm and quiet up on air.  The pilot of that flight was Captain Kintanar ( I memorized his name after hearing it over the radio cabin hehe!). We had a smooth landing!

The  slight anxiety began when we arrived at Hongkong International Airport, we were clueless what to do so we did lots of exploring around the area. We just followed the directions/signs posted. 

We asked an officer how to get to the immigration, he directed us to the glass door with a waiting train, this will transport travellers across the street and to the other building where the immigration is located.

After presenting our passport to the immigration, we proceeded to the exit door leading to the bus station. It is located on the level B exit 5, the city flier bus that will pass to Chungking mansion is A21, fare is HK$33.00. Take note: bus drivers never give change so prepare for coins. Since we were not able to buy an Octopus card at the airport and we had no coins available, we paid HK$70.00 and we did not able to get the HK$4.00 change :-(

For an easy and practical travel around Hongkong, I will advise you to buy an Octopus card at the customer service upon your arrival at the airport, it is a prepaid card that you can reload anytime, it costs HK$150.00 the consumable amount is HK$100.00 and there's a deposit of HK$50.00 which will be returned to you together with the remaining amount upon surrendering the card at any customer service outlet at MTR stations before leaving Hongkong. Try to surrender it the night before you depart so that you can still use the money for shopping like what we did :-)

Chungking Mansion is just beside bus stop number 14 next to CKE department store with a huge TV screen outside, the number of bus stop is reflected on the running screen inside the bus so don’t worry you will never lost, just enjoy the ride.

The travel takes up to one hour at night.

FIRST DAY: JUNE 2, 2013, Sunday

Destinations: Nan Lian Garden and Chi Lin Nunnery
Address: Diamond Hill, Kowloon
Travel time via MTR: 35 minutes

We left the hotel at 9:30 in the morning, then proceeded to Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station just across Chungking Mansion.

Nan Lian Garden has a sprawling area beautifully covered with Bonsai trees, winding paths, oriental trees and running waters. There was a brightly coloured temple in the middle of the garden leading to the pavilion but visitors were not allowed to get inside so we just posed at the gate for pictures.

The weather was intensely hot so I did not fully enjoy the place despite its gorgeous and scenic beauty. I think the most ideal time to visit this garden is in the afternoon and early evening. Opening time is at 7:00 in the morning and closing time is 9:00 in the evening. Entrance is free.

Architecture Museum and Vegetarian restaurant at Nan Lian Garden
Relaxing atmosphere at Nan Lian Garden
At last I found a shed to pose!

We went up to visit the Lotus Garden and Chi Lin Nunnery, it was more hot there my God! There was no shed to rest except on the lobby of the clustered buildings, I was very disappointed because I was not able to explore the area completely. We left Diamond Hill at 11:30 and rode MTR again to Admiralty.
With Epil and Bechay at the brightly coloured Temple inside Nan Lian Garden
It's me and Bechay posing before Chi Lin Nunnery near the Lotus Garden

We took lunch at Queensway at the Admiralty Centre then we hopped in at the double decker bus  629 (without my friend Epil. It was only me and bechay who travelled to Ocean Park). We chose to sit at the top area of the bus in the front row to enjoy our journey. I'd learned from this trip that drivers in Hongkong obediently observed the speed limit, no overtaking, no screeching of tires!

                   

My lunch.  Rice with Hungarian sausage, salted egg, roasted chicken 
and vegetable. HK$32.00

As soon as we reached Ocean Park we knew we're in another trouble enduring the blistering summer heat. I already booked our ticket online so we just proceeded to the ticket booth. The first thrill ride we took was a cable car from the ground to the summit. The ride was almost nerve wrecking, I barely looked beneath the car because it made my stomach lurched into knots the rugged cliff behind the placid sea was a spectacular view to behold but I did not care looking down, I was more concerned with my nervous system haha! But it was worth the thrill, yeah really soooooooo exciting!

Cable car ride from the ground of Ocean Park to its summit
The old-fashioned amusement park ride, Ferris Wheel!We chose this because we hesitated to go on adventure at The Abyss :-D
Another thrilling ride we tried
Finding a shed to rest after we concluded The Abyss ride was not for
us, we thought maybe we need more encouragement from outside forces hehe! 

It was extremely hot and we're already exposed to the sun so being drenched in water was no longer a fascinating idea, we might get ill and getting sick in a foreign land was the last thing to happen, so we did not mind climbing at the thrill mountain to try those exciting rides, we chose the Ocean Park Tower instead. It was equally thrilling. We entered in a cable-like box and whirled up high then moved down in a circling motion, the height was like 10,000 feet more or less! We did not try The Abyss, the Flying swing, the boat seesaw something and the Dragon ride even though at first we felt like trying hehe, it was so scary so we just convinced ourselves to choose the old-fashioned Ferris Wheel hehe!

We left Ocean Park at 5:30 pm took the 629 bus again going back to Admiralty station to meet Epil. At 6:30 we walked to the Peak Tram Terminus to visit The Peak. It was terrible, the line was so loooooong! My feet began to sore and my toes seemed twisted, so many tourists packed the area to go to the same direction us ours, we waited for like two hours before we could get in at the Peak Tram. The ride was more thrilling because the tram would climb the rugged road almost vertically, I was not scared anyway, it was more exciting, more adventurous watching the buildings reclined before my sight.

Joining the long queue for a Peak Tram ride

We reached the Peak at 8:30 and climbed the stairs again to visit the Sky Terrace which offered a perfect view of the romantic skyline of Hongkong overseeing Victoria Harbour. We left the Peak at 9:30 and arrived at Delta at 10:30 in the evening. Yes! We had a full day of adventure and fun!!!

SECOND DAY: JUNE 3, 2013, Monday

Destination: Macau
Travel time via Ferry: approximately 1 hour

The only day that we travelled together, eleven of us all. A day before, Sir Rene Babierra bought round trip tickets for all of us at Delta Hotel. We chose the open time schedule to allow us to leave Macau anytime without additional payment. The ferry ticket is a lot expensive during night time sailing. 

We left the hotel at 9:30 in the morning and scrambled to find our way to Hongkong China Ferry Terminal. We crossed the street and went to the subway but we could not figure out which way to follow, we did not hire a tour guide so we're on our own discovering stuff and relying on our instincts where to go. Finally, after going back to where we got in and took the opposite road we reached the terminal. We exchanged our vouchers for ferry tickets and waited for the 11:00 0'clock sailing of Cotai Jet.

There were two ferry terminals in Hongkong going to Macau. One at Sheung Wan and the other at Tsim Sha Tsui, we chose the latter because it was nearer to our hotel and we're traveling via Cotai Jet. Turbo Jet usually docked at Macau Ferry Terminal, closer to the city proper, and Cotai Jet normally docked at Taipa Ferry Terminal closer to Cotai Strip where elegant Casinos are located.

We arrived at Taipa at 12:00 noon and my stomach was already rambling in hunger. After passing at the immigration we proceeded to the departure section where lots of on-the-spot tour guides are waiting. There, you can find Filipino city guides offering their services at a cheaper rate of HK$50 each visitor. Since we want to enjoy our day in Macau with less pressure, we decided to get one Filipino city guide.

Outside the terminal, free shuttle buses operated by Casino resorts along Cotai Strip lined up to take travellers to anywhere in the city depending on the scheduled destination. We hopped in at City of Dreams shuttle bus and visited the resort for about 20 minutes. Then waited again for another shuttle bus of City of Dreams going to the city proper. We disembarked near the Grand Emperor hotel. We went inside and so thrilled with the opulent structure of the building. This hotel followed a Windsor theme. The security guards wore similar uniforms of the Household Cavalry posted at Buckingham Palace---red scarlet and bearskin hat.
In front of the Ruins of St. Paul Cathedral. One of the largest Catholic churches in Asia during the 16th century but it was destroyed by fire leaving only the exterior of the church, now it is being preserved (including the ground) to attract tourists.
As we passed the busy street leading to the ruins of St. Paul Cathedral, several food stalls offered samples of delicacies to attract buyers so we tried the above foods: Biscuits, peanut tart, pork tapa and so on.
At the Senado square with the rest of the group. From here, we walked to the narrow street to reach other popular landmarks like Leal Senado, St. Dominic Church, Ruins of St. Paul Cathedral. We did not pass at the Grand Lisboa we only saw the peak of its tower from a distance.
Grand staircase of Venetian Sands Casino Resort. This Casino follows an Italian theme. There's a grand canal, gondola ride and a beautiful ceiling designed like that of the Last Judgement of Michaelangelo at Sistine Chapel in Vatican City.
Above the grand staircase. The Venetian is owned by Las Vegas Sands Casino Resorts, the second largest casino operator in the world (next to Caesar Entertainment). The beautiful ceiling patterned after Sistine Chapel's Last Judgment is visible in the background.
At the lobby of the Venetian where visitors can take a romantic gondola ride!
At the Galaxy Resort, the sweet-scented building we visited. The moment you enter the place, you will be greeted with a unique aroma of glamour and opulence. Very fragrant even their rest rooms! I wonder what kind of air freshener they are using, it smells like Victoria Secret or Chanel!
At the 3D screen of the City of Dreams featuring underwater scene

THIRD DAY: JUNE 4, 2013

Destinations: Strolling around Nathan Road, sightseeing at the nearest department stores, visiting Victoria Harbour, Avenue of Stars, Hongkong Museum of Art and Space Museum. We just walked to the nearest subway from our hotel.

At the Victoria Harbour
Avenue of Stars at the Victoria Harbour just beside Intercontinental Hotel. This area is modelled after Hollywood's Walk of Fame to honour Hongkong celebrities. Most of them (Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Chow Yun Fat) had their plaques and handprints 
cemented on the floor.
Weeeeh! After waiting for almost 40 minutes at last I was able to pose before the statue of Hongkong martial arts legend, Bruce Lee! This is one of the most visited areas at Avenue of Stars.

FOURTH DAY: JUNE 5, 2013, Wednesday

Left Delta Hotel at 7:00 in the morning, we're supposed to wake up at 5:00 but we had a good sleep and my watch alarm did not ring so we're kinda nervous afraid we might not catch our flight back to the Philippines.

We disembarked at Terminal two to check in then hurried to the boarding area (we had to ride the train again) as we had only 20 minutes left before closing time. The plane took off at 9:35. It was a beautiful sunny Wednesday morning, the flight back to Clark was relax and peaceful. We touched down at Diosdado Macapagal International Airport at 11:00, the pilot of that flight was Captain Francisco. Again, we had a smooth landing, thanked God!

We took lunch at the mini stop convenience store just beside the waiting area of the airport, again we had to endure the hot condition of the place as if we're in the sauna! We're back at the departure area at 1:00pm in time for our check-in for our flight back to Davao. Good that the Davao International Airport became okay the moment we flew back home.

Now, all I have is the memory of an unforgettable first trip abroad. Hongkong and Macau are best destinations to take for first timers especially if there's no tour guide, you will never lost as long as you have a clear sense of direction, just do some research online before you hop in for the travel.

Everything was great although I lost my eyeglass in Macau, I just counted the good times I had with the place. Hope to travel next year again after I will renew my passport :-D

I did not regret the fact that I was not able to visit Disneyland and Ngong Ping despite my intention to go there, circumstances intervened you know hehe! Maybe in the future when time allows. I also missed the thrill of watching the free shows at Wynn Resort in Macau, it was already night time and we had to catch the 8:00pm sailing schedule of Cotai Jet back to Hongkong.

Travelling under a tight budget is not bad, all you have to do is safe guard your finances. Plan ahead of time, list down everything you needed, set a specific budget for the expenses and pray to God for guidance.

Ask me if I would still love to go back to Hongkong and Macau? My answer is YES!!

FOR MORE DETAILS ON OUR TRIP PLEASE VISIT MY PERSONAL BLOG HERE

                   

18 comments:

  1. hai naaliw aq sa post mo.tanong q lng sana ano b mga requirements sa immigration pra payagan ka pumunta don sa hong kong

    ReplyDelete
  2. balak q rn kasi pumunta don alam mo na first time dn.ano mga needed sa immigration pra makapagtravel ka?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Randell! Sorry for this late reply just read your comments today hehe but i already replied in mycupoftea.blogspot.com site hope by now you're ready for your first travel abroad goodluck and enjoy!

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  4. Lamela,

    Thanks for sharing your travel experience here. Hong Kong is one of the world's most popular tourist destination. It was a good pic at Victoria Harbour.

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  6. Hi, how did you booked your stay in Delta Hotel? I like your blog, it helps me a lot! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi April!

      Sorry for my late reply, just opened my blog today. I'll give you a message thru your email.

      Delta hotel is a transient inn located at the 16th floor of Chungking Mansion in Tsim Sha Tsui. The room is conducive for sleeping and very ideal for travellers who have a tight budget.

      Delete
    2. By the way April, I made my booking at Delta hotel through Agoda.com, you can find the link of Agod at the uppermost of this blog.

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  7. please email me april.ilmedo@gmail.com

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