Thursday, January 05, 2012

Hong Kong and Macau - 2011 Edition

Welcome to the cold November 11-14, 2011 not-so-China Amazing Race! 

Won't use the Pasalubong Guide, Itinerary, Travel Tips, Budget, Contacts template I have gifted myself with because this thing is crazy!

Since 2011 has brought me to places I have never been and never seen, I really owe this blog a couple of entries from 2011 (huhu lazy freak). First time to be out of the country with my brother and he made me plan for the trip. Yes, I crammed on the itinerary and was on the brink of diluting the map and drinking it just to make it stick to the back of my mind. Going to Hong Kong and/or Macao means a pretty nasty walkathon, as both places are really convenient for walking around. So unless you're a South Korean woman or someone from Sex and the City, stilettos are to be left home and comfy shoes/espadrilles are to be worn.

Anywhere, anytime. You have my heart and wallet,
Milk Tea.
Remember to get a map at the airport (it's free no duh) and staple it to your skin.

Let's jump straight to the ocean (pun intended)!

DAY 1 - Nov 11 [ Ocean Park Like A Boss! ]

I don't know why we got a really early flight when we all had to leave the office late the night before. So me, my brother, and his girlfriend were crazy sleepy. We're going to stay at Tsim Sha Tsui (TST) so ready the maps and the eyes for the trip!

So from HK International Airport, walk your lazy bum to the bus area and take the A21 route - double-decked bus are common in HK so enjoy the view as much as you can. After paying the remaining dues for the living quarters (Ashoka Hostel is a good and clean one promise), the next big question is, "What now??" Let's go to Ocean Park! Here's how to go to Ocean Park from Tsim Sha Tsui: Take the TST MTR Exit F/G to Central and get off to Admiralty (next station) Exit B. Take on CityBus No. 629 (you can buy the Ocean Park ticket there as well). Boom all set!

Real Panda!!!!
Here's what they call a "red panda" huhu cuteness.
Ocean Park is really, really big. It'll consume your whole day as they have animal attractions (poor kids, I seriously pity them) with a cable car inside the theme park going up to the mountains where their thrilling rides await you. Plus there's a light and fire show around 8pm so if you're planning to go here, allot one whole day for it, you'll be knocked out after gushing at Ocean Park.

Cable Car with crazy line.
Yes, never imagined jellyfish would be so cool.
- Buy the Octopus card from the MTR as it'll be your ticket to all the wonderful places in HK.
- As of Nov 2011, Ocean Park ticket (includes all attractions and rides) costs HKD 299.
- Lines at Ocean Park are really long so if you're visiting HK, try to schedule this bad-ass during weekdays as you might decide to just go jump into the pool on a weekend line.

They'll be delighted to have you in the chlorinated pool
they're being kept in prison.

DAY 2 - Nov 12 [ Buddha Blesses Disneyland at the Victoria Peak ]

This day made my brother want to kill me. As much as I really wanted to have Victoria Peak on the 1st day, being sleepless the night before was taking its toll on us as after our hole-in-the-wall authentic HK dinner (the server was rude and mean, definitely authentic!) we slept like bears on hibernation mode.

Early day as we're conquering Lantau Island. First stop would be Ngong Ping Village. Yes I want to ride a huge cable car (Ocean Park's was just a warm-up) to see the Tian Tan Buddha. Here's how to go to Ngong Ping from TST: MTR TST to Tung Chung. Walk to 360 Ngong Ping Cable Car (you'll see it across). Purchase Crystal Cabin tickets to Ngong Ping Village.

Here's the cable car to the village!
Crystal Cabin... with that clear flooring experience.
We didn't purchase any other entrance fees, only the cable car ride because honestly, I only want to see Buddha. Period.
After a short climb on the stairs, you can see Buddha up close!
Tick, tock, tick, tock. The tour guide says it's time to move on! Let's go to adventureland to meet Mickey Mouse and the gang. We were on schedule as we got to Disneyland around 2pm. From Ngong Ping to Disneyland: MTR from Tung Chung to Sunny Bay then Disney Line. That easy!

Disneyland would feel so small after being in Ocean Park the day before. So you could really roam around and waste your time at the long queues for the rides. Just be prepared for the parade!

And yet the day is not over for us! Hahahaha I'm really pushing it this time as I really want to go to Madame Tussauds Wax Museum as well. How to go to The Peak Tram: You can reach the terminus on foot from MTR Central Station J2 exit. Just follow the signs and you'll survive. :)
Long liiiiiiine.

After this, all we had in mind were food and rest.

- Remember to get the Crystal Cabin to go to Ngong Ping Village and see the Tian Tan Buddha. The price difference is not that much and the line on the way back is shorter. Plus it's also pretty to see the lush greeneries underneath.
- Once you're in Disneyland, check the schedule of the parade immediately. Then circle your life around it. You're in there for the parade and the fireworks!
- Disneyland entrance fee is pretty heavy. HKD 399!
- Buy the bundle of Peak Tram (to and from) plus the entrance fee of the wax museum and Sky Terrace. Around HKD 210. :)
DAY 3 - Nov 13 [ Avenue of Stars at Macao ]

We're planning to go to Macau after our early visit to TST by just walking around the neighborhood. However if you're coming from elsewhere, MTR East Tsim Sha Tsui Station Exit J, and follow the signs. Yeaaah.
Starbucks as usual. Haha.
After visiting the Avenue of Stars, we grabbed lunch and walked to China Ferry Terminal. How to get there: TST Exit A1. If walking from TST, walk across to Nathan Road then proceed along Haiphong Road then turn right along Kowloon Park Drive and left across to Canton Road to the First Ferry Terminal. Purchase return tickets as well (no duh). 

It's about the free hotel shuttle buses, how to utilize them:

Ride the Sands Shuttle Bus > Sands Casino, Fisherman's Wharf
Ride the Lisboa Shuttle Bus > St Paul Ruins, Senado Square, Monte fort, museum, Rua da Felicidade (street food), fountain, Loukau Mansion, St Dom's Cathedral, Holy House of Mercy, Kuan Tai Temple, Bishop Office, Jesus SQ, Old City walls, Mount Fortress, Museum, St Anthony's, Sir Rob's
Shuttle to Wynn Macau > Golden Dragon, Tree of Prosperity, Fountain
Shuttle to Venetian > Lunch at Food Court, City of Dreams, Gondola Ride (it was an amazing experience during my first visit to Macau!)

St Paul's Ruins.

Don't ever ever forget to visit The Venetian
but it'll be impossible to miss anyway. :)
- Macau can be visited in one day. Remember to take advantage of the free shuttle rides offered by the hotels. Get the last ferry ride home as Macau is amazing at night. :)
- If you're not spending much on Macao, don't bother having your HKD changed to MOP (Macao Patacas) as they can't be used outside the little kingdom of Macau.

MORAL: The world is such a beautiful place, really, promise, this is true. When you include vile human qualities into the argument, I'll get Chuck Norris to destroy you. There are a lot of magnificent places outside your home and they look waaaay better up close (not just in magazines and television). And it's true, getting lost is half the fun. Just prepare your legs as adventures begin when things don't go as planned. And remember to take photos. :)

Not enough money for your trip? We'll talk about that soon. Oh yeah!

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