Enthralled by El Nido

I found my paradise in the Philippines.

Spellbounding Siquijor

A brave girl's first ever solo trip was to this mystical island.

The Quiet Charm of Cagbalete Island

Outdoor serenity at its best.

The Rugged Beauty of Islas de Gigantes

The off-the-beaten rockin beauty of Northern Iloilo.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Hong Kong Heritage Site and Shops


Day 4

It was our final day in HK. It was quite uneventful. It was when we received text messages from family and friends to take care because of the unfortunate incident that happened in Manila. It was that morning when we opened our hotel room door, that we saw the awful images on the newspaper headline. It was the HK tourist bus hostage drama that ended up in blood bath. We turned on the TV and it was the same thing being shown in CNN and BBC. What a morning.




We originally had plans of riding the Star Ferry and going to the Victoria Peak that day but we suddenly did not feel like doing it anymore. Our travel spirit went very low. Seeing the hotel’s flags in half mast and the newspapers everywhere with those images really affected us. We just decided to do whatever we want for that day. My friend and her son just visited the nearby Hong Kong Space and Science Museum. I on the other hand just did my own walking tour and some shopping.






It was raining a bit but I still continued with my walk until I found this heritage building. Only a few people come by so I decided to go there and see what it is.






After a while, I thought of just going to the Ladies Market. I took the MTR from Tsim Sha Tsui to Mongkok. It was like our Divisoria, with only shops especially for the Ladies. They were all lined up in the streets. They will approach you straight forward and ask you how much you would like to pay. I found the goods a little expensive. I only saw a few shops that really sell them cheap. I also encountered a lot of Filipina vendors here. It didn’t help though because the store owners still have the last say on the prices.




I did not shop that much from there. Before coming back to the hotel, I went to this bakeshop that sells super yummy breads and sandwiches. I bought something to eat for the transport later to the airport. I also shopped at the supermarket across the hotel for some goods for "pasalubong".




We met at the hotel at around 4:00 PM and waited for the free shuttle bus going to Kowloon station. From there, we took the Airport Express MTR going to HKIA. It was always cool to arrive early in a huge modern airport. It was the first nicest airport I’ve been to. Our flight was 7:30 that evening. We departed on time. Sad that our vacation was over but also happy from the memories we made in HK.

And if you’re asking me if I will go back to Hong Kong, the answer will be a big YES. There are so much more to see and so much food to eat! I swear, I'll be back someday. :)




This is Part 5 of my Hong Kong travel series.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I Had a Quickie in Macau


Day 3

We allotted our third day in HK for a side trip to Macau. We drag ourselves to the Macau Ferry Terminal as early as we could so we can spend longer time there. It was a Monday. Everyone we were walking with in the MTR walkways and train stations were all dressed in business suits. The shades of their clothes were mostly of black, blue and gray only. I swear, I’ve never seen any other colors. I distinctly remember how we were so peculiar from them. My friend was in a bright red dress and I on a hot pink one haha. You could easily single out who were the tourists among the crowd.


@ HK-Macau Ferry Terminal


After 2 MTR train rides (Central and Sheung Wan), we were already at the Ferry Terminal after 30 minutes. We paid HKD 134 for our ticket to Macau. I noticed that the ticket prices vary depending on the departure time. Prices are more expensive on peak hours I suppose. Our ticket going back to HK costs HKD 176. It was 42 dollars more expensive. The entire process was smooth, from purchasing your ticket, to the immigration, to the embarkation. The ferries are well-maintained thus very much comfortable for the travelers.


with my granny seatmates :)


The journey just took an hour and forty five minutes. Again, immigration process was a breeze. One good thing was, we didn’t need to change any money because they also widely accept HKDs. From the port, you just have to cross the road by the underpass. From there, you will see different hotel buses waiting. They are free shuttle services to the hotel. We took the one for Venetian Macao. Instant free transpo haha.


free shuttle buses to Venetian Macao


The Venetian Macao

This hotel is being considered to be one of Macau’s attractions. Known for its grandiose interior replicating the romantic city of Venice, you can never go wrong here. You will definitely love strolling around this 5-star hotel.




This luxury hotel and casino resort is the 6th largest building in the world by floor area. It has 40 floors and also considered to be the largest casino in the world.




It is also owned by the same company owning The Venetian Las Vegas which is Las Vegas Sands.




It was fun walking in this little Venice. We never shopped though. The stores here sell expensive stuff.




We never got to try riding the gondola too. I don't think it will evoke the same feeling that it would, if you'll ride the real ones in the Grand Canal of Venice.




We had our lunch at the food court. Thank goodness, they have this place where cheapskates can eat haha. It was also nice to have so many choices in one place.


my delish chili wings


We realized we spent too much time here already so we moved on to our next destination.


awesome view from the cab


Ruins of St. Paul Cathedral

Half of our day was already spent at the Venetian. We asked the taxi driver to take us to the Ruins. Yes, no more free ride haha.




This is one of Macau's most popular landmarks. It was the largest Catholic cathedrals in East Asia back then. But do you ever wonder why only its facade was left?




Back in 1835, Macau was hit by a cruel storm and it caught fire for the third time leaving it the way it is right now. Yes, it had been burned twice already before the 1835 incident. All its glory faded away.




There were so many tourists when we got there. It was really hard taking photos without other people on it.


Museo de Macau and Fortaleza do Monte

Not too far at the east side of the Ruins going uphill, is the Macau Museum. We went there to check it out and also to escape from the crowd and seek refuge from the heat.




The museum shows the history of the city. It was pretty much a new museum. It was only opened back in 1998. Relatively new compared to other country or city museums.




The museum is built on top of this Fortress Hill. It is said to be the oldest fort in all of Macau. It used to be originally a part of the Cathedral to protect it from pirates.




Later on, it became a military fort. The fort has cannons in all four sides of it. On the present day, the fort serves as a great view point of the city. Many tourists and locals are frequenting this place.




I also wanted to see the Senate Square which is also walking distance from the Ruins. But then again, we had a kid in tow and constant walking had already wore him out. We just skipped it.




We hailed another cab to take us to our next destination. It was so difficult to get a taxi near St. Paul! Maybe because there were so many people, that they easily get occupied. I think we waited 20-30 minutes to finally get one.


Macau Tower

The place that came to our mind is the Macau Tower, so we asked our driver to take us there. It is also an important landmark of the city. We made it there in 20 minutes. We paid HKD 100 for the Entrance Fee, have some souvenir photo taken and then went up to the tower’s observation deck.




Macau Tower stands at 1,109 ft making it to the World Federation of Great Towers. I actually never knew that there was that kind of federation haha.




The elevator ride was fast that we didn’t feel that it is twice as high as the regular buildings that we have here in Manila. We alighted at the 58th Floor where the observation deck is.




There were not so many people which I liked. You would certainly have a great viewing spot on your own. You don’t have to worry about other people obstructing your view.




It was so awesome to see the 360 degree view of Macau from up there. You’ll see the sprawling buildings, the extravagant casino structures, their great infrastructures, everything.




I was a bit hesitant to step on the fiber glass floor at first. Well, actually not only me but most people there haha. It felt like it’s going to break and that you’re going to fall to your death. But then, I got over it soon and find myself sitting on it. And no, I didn’t die. :)


who's afraid of heights? :)


We went three floors up to see what’s there. The 61st Floor is where the daredevils are. It was the floor for AJ Hackett’s Bungee Jumping and Outdoor Observation Deck. It is also known as the world's highest bungee jump facility.




 It was so windy up there but we got to take some decent photos.




The Bungee Jump rate is ridiculously high and it’s non-refundable. It is HKD 2,600 (PHP 15,000). It’s so expensive that you won’t have a choice but to jump. It’s either you cry for losing that big amount of money or cry out of too much fear and excitement to do it. For me it was both. It’s too expensive and I’m too chicken shit.


On the ground floor, there are some shops you can check out. We shopped there for a bit. Then we went outside to take some snaps of the tower.


happy bestie


It was already past 5:00 PM when we decided to go. I still wanted to see the Fisherman’s Wharf but we were afraid we might miss our ferry back to HK.




We just agreed to go back to the Port. Unbelievably, rush hour traffic was non-existent in Macau. We were there before 6:00. Our ticket was for 7:30 so we still have a lot of spare time. To our surprise, there is no such thing as sitting area in Macau Port’s waiting area! We checked both floors and nada.




We just strolled around and checked out the shops for some souvenirs. We also decided to have dinner in one of the few restaurants there. Guess what? I-had-the-blandest-food-ever.


duck noodle soup


We arrived in our hotel at around 9:00 PM. It was a long day. I did not regret spending such a short time in Macau. I actually did not like it, like it. I imagine it is more beautiful at night when all the buildings, the casinos and everything are lit up. At day, I saw nothing special. The streets reminded me of our Recto here in Manila. On the back roads and narrow alleys, I saw a hint of poverty. Macau is not all glam and glitter (like what we see in all sorts of media).

Will I go back in Macau? Not really. Not because I dislike what I see. But more of, it’s lacking something I’m searching for as a traveler. Maybe when I already have wads of dollars to burn, I’ll come back here for the casinos. ;)

“The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.” ~ G.K. Chesterton



This is Part 4 of my Hong Kong travel series.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Extreme Fun at Ocean Park Hong Kong


Day 2

We woke up a little early because we have to transfer “residence”. After successfully checking in at the Holiday Inn Golden Mile, we walked around to look for an authentic Chinese restaurant where we can eat. We luckily found one not too far from the hotel. We discovered the street where restaurants mostly are.




We chose this small noodle house with lots of customers. I wasn’t able to take a photo of its name. They only have like 6 tables but seeing that it’s full means they must have good food! So we waited for our turn to be seated. At first, they wanted us to join other people in different tables which we found weird haha. Well, maybe in HK it’s fine. Fortunately, we were able to sit together in one table after a few minutes.


ready to chow down :)


I chose the Beef Brisket Noodle. OMG – it was sooo good! The serving was huge. I almost did not finish everything. I wanted to savor each bite for the taste to linger but we observed that these HKers were too fast to eat!


this is yum!


We noticed that they never take so long in the table unlike us Filipinos. We felt so strange that the restaurant owners might already wanted us to leave soon. As a traveler, you have to be sensitive with your surroundings. So we didn’t take very long, we thanked Auntie, the nice lady who served us and left. After that rushed meal, we went to our destination that day which is the Ocean Park.


We walked our way back to the hotel because it is where the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station is nearly located. We took the train to Admiralty Station where buses going to the park can be found. It’s Bus No. 629 by the way. At the Bus Terminal, there’s already a booth there selling Ocean Park tickets. We purchased our tickets from them so we no longer need to line up when we arrive at the park. No need for bus tickets, we have our Octopus Card.


excited


Since it was our first time to ride on a double decker bus, of course we seated on the upper deck haha. It only took 30 minutes to get there from Admiralty.


our ride


We were dropped off the Tai Shue Wan Entrance which is at The Summit part of the park. It is divided in to 2 parts. The other one is The Waterfront. We made it there with only half of the day left. We knew it is huge and that we won’t have time to explore the entire park.



we're here!


So we just focused on what was already on our sight.  We just had a look around and then we decided to go further up. It was where I rode the highest escalator I’ve ever seen to date. It is 738 ft! The second longest outdoor escalator in the world. I was like, wow.



where to go?

quite a long ride up


On that level, we saw The Raging River and we got pumped up. We immediately queued and waited for our turn. There was a very long line but it was fast to move since the ride was just short. The Log Jam in our Enchanted Kingdom was even more awesome than this one. A bit disappointing actually.





too short to enjoy


The next thing we saw was the Mine Train. Now this one’s more exciting. It is located at the edge of the mountain. The line wasn’t that long, maybe because it was scarier haha. Then it was our turn! The seats were just double, so it was my friend and her son and me and just me! The next scenes were crazy. My eyes were closed 75% of the time and we were screaming 100% of the time. Especially when the carts zoom through those parts where you feel like you’d fall off the mountain. It was freaking insane. We actually wondered why we did it haha!


the mine train drop

yes, it felt like you'll fall off to the sea! ;)

With adrenaline fueled up, we looked for our next ride at The Summit. It is where most of the extreme rides are.


The Dragon

The Abyss

The Ferris Wheel


We just settled with the not so crazy one (that was what we thought). We chose The Eagle. It wasn’t as high as The Abyss but it has its own surprises. Again, I have to be alone in my gondola. You will be lifted up to its highest point which is 77 ft and then the real thrill begins.


The Eagle


That’s when they’ll start rotating the gondolas up there. Fast, really fast! The feeling was like the Flying Swing or the Flying Fiesta, only 77 feet from the ground! You can’t see anything from up there and the feeling was you’ll flew off somewhere anytime. Darn, too much screaming again haha! And it was a little dizzying huh.


high-speed swirling!


We already felt drained after those rides. So we just strolled and let the kid play at the special summer kiddie playpen there while checking out the souvenir stores.


cute panda souvenirs


I really wanted to see the pandas at The Waterfront but the cable car queue is too long and it was already 6:00 PM. Also, our feet were already sore from too much walking. We did not go there anymore. We even rested for a while and had some snacks at the Flamingo Pond before heading home.


The Flamingo Pond

oh that yummy squid!


Back at the hotel, after getting some rest, we were once again on the hunt for a Chinese restaurant for our dinner. We found this restaurant in a basement like place. It is big, modern and fast food-style.




The thing was they really don’t speak English. We ordered our food just by pointing them from the menu. So, no big deal. The real problem was when they were already calling out our table numbers. How would we know if its ours? It’s in Chinese! We just observed if somebody’s getting it or not. If there’s no one getting it, then it was probably ours haha. We managed to survive! Woot!


my assorted dinner that night


It was a challenging yet fun-filled day for us. Enjoy Ocean Park: checked. Eat in a real Chinese/HK restaurant: checked.


HK street by night :)


We went home immediately after so we can rest and recharge. We were heading to Macau the next day for a quick day tour.




This is Part 3 of my Hong Kong travel series.