Monday, July 16, 2012

Lantau without the Buddha & the Mouse, Plus Goodbyes for Now (Day 5)

Our flight back to Manila was scheduled 5 pm, so we still had half a day in Hong Kong and we decided to go to Lantau Island.  This area houses the Tian Tan Buddha, Ngong Ping Village and Cable Car, the Po Lin Monastery, the fishing village of Tai O, a Citygate Outlet, and most famously, Hong Kong Disneyland.

Most of these spots can be found near the Tung Chung Station of the MTR where  there are easy connections on foot, bus or cable car.  To get to Disneyland, get off at MTR Sunny Bay Station, then transfer to a Disney train which leads to the park entrance.  It takes almost an hour to get to Lantau Island from the city center.

The long interchange at Central Station

Departures, Causeway Bay and Central (Day 4)

I woke up to the view of elderly people practicing Taichi on my window, and was half expecting my Lola to be among them (don't bet on it!).  We had breakfast at a nameless hole in the wall Chinese restaurant beside 7-Eleven and opposite New Yaohan.  Up front is a takeout counter and dine-in customers are served at the second floor.  There is no English on the menu, and the rude staff do not speak English either so ordering was an adventure.  Surprisingly, the food were delicious especially the siomai which tasted like it came from a top Chinese restaurant, and everyone in the group seemed satisfied with their orders.  After eating, we returned to the hotel, packed up and made the return trip to Hong Kong.

Priceless View

Senado Square, the Ruins of St. Paul and More Casinos (Day 3)

Today, I headed to Senado Square for a little sightseeing alone.  I walked to the street behind Hotel Sintra facing the Grand Emperor Hotel, then turned left at the corner from where its was a good 10 to 15 minutes walk before reaching the entrance to Senado Square on the right guided by signs.  I passed by a lot of clothing shops and some interesting European architecture along the way.  The Square is composed of fine, old Portuguese buildings teeming with retail shops and restaurants, mixed with Ongpin styled alleys and backstreets.  Vendors sell Chinese tapas (free tasting), egg tarts (Koi Kei Bakery is the most popular), local snacks, herbals and souvenirs.

Kanto ng Senado Square

Avenue of Stars, Ferry to Macau, and the Cotai Strip (Day 2)

Even though I slept really late last night, I woke up early to go jogging with my dad.  When I'm in travel, I make it a point to maximize my limited time.  I'm like a train with no brakes and unlimited fuel. 

We started through the Avenue of Stars at the Waterfront Promenade where our trail led us past the hand prints of famous Chinese personalities in the film industry and a statue tribute of would-have-been UFC Featherweight champion Bruce Lee.  I really appreciated just being able to soak in the peaceful early morning view of Victoria Harbour and its skyscrapers, while passing through some ultra expensive hotels in Kowloon.

We ended up at Hung Hom MTR Station which is amidst a swanky residential neighborhood where we took the MTR back to the hotel.  Everyone was now awake so we headed to a nearby Mcdonalds for breakfast.

Sunrise at the Avenue of Stars

Hong Kong... for the 5th Time, A Symphony of Lights & Tsim Sha Tsui (Day 1)

Hong Kong by heart...

I have been here before, it's all too familiar to me.  The lights, the sounds, the smell, the pace and the attitude all conjure an unmistakable identity.  I know this place more than I know most of the cities back home.  This is the first country I ever visited, the most I have visited and yet somehow the feeling of excitement over doing the same things and going to the same places remain.  Maybe it's because we were celebrating our parent's wedding anniversary or that this was my first time traveling with  my grandparents or just the fact that it's Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Island seen from Kowloon