Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Pinoy in Hongkong - My memorable trip back to HK and Macau

Victoria Peak - View of HK Central bwOn my third trip to HK, I traveled with the entire family including Mijo. While it was a challenge to site see with a group of eleven family members, it was lot of fun.

It was my first time to go to Disneyland in Hongkong and I discovered more of Kowloon in this trip.

I last visited Hongkong in 2003 with my sister Ren and her best friend Beth. I remember, the Two IFC building was just newly built and the ICC building was yet to be conceptualized. What has not changed is the urban vibe from its city streets.
Hongkong - Skyline 

There is something about Asian cities that is exhilarating. The dense population and the countless number of stores, restaurants, shops, malls, and food stalls. It is commercialism at its best.

   We got on an early morning flight from Manila and landed in HK in two hours. We took the A21 bus from the airport to get to Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon where our hotel is located. The area is very centrally located and just a few blocks from the TST promenade where the view of HK central is stunning.
  Hongkong Central - Fair 

The hotel concierge was very nice to let us leave our luggages at the hotel since they couldn't check us in right away. 

We decided to eat. One thing I noticed when traveling with eleven people is it is slow. Deciding where to go eat took time. Finding a place to eat was even slower.  We probably sat and ate lunch at Canton Expert Dimsum for two hours. However slow our start got to be, it was all about catching up and laughing and giggling. Traveling with family is definitely more fun.
Canton Dimsum Expert - Dimsum

After that very savory lunch I was craving for something sweet or fruity to eat. As if my prayers got answered because we found this dessert place serving the best mango pudding ever called Hui Lan Shan. My sister-in-law Kaye (of Timeless Confection) actually knew about this place and was raving about it. She's right on the money!
Hui Lau Shan - Store front

We all shared this Mango Chewy Ball set. Imagine eating a tasty mango pudding with small pieces of mango and chewy rice balls. It was so delicious and such a great combination of textures and flavors. The stories and catching up with the family continued here.
Hui Lau Shan - Mango Chewy Ball set

We also shared this Stewed milk in Coconuts and Oats. It was so addictingly good. It is like slurping a warm coconut milk with gelatinous rice with layers of tender coconut meat. We were debating whether the coconut was real or not even though we were scraping off coconut or something off the coconut shell. If it was not natural, how did they make the coconut to taste and look like that?
Hui Lau Shan - Stewed Milk in Coconut and Oats

We finally checked in at the hotel and the first in our itinerary was Victoria Peak. We took the Star Ferry to get to HK central. For me or any tourists, taking the Star Ferry is already a touristy thing to do. HK locals who take the ferry from the Kowloon station to HK central are very lucky because look at that view? I can never get tired looking at that.
Star Ferry - View of HK Central 
Star Ferry - Ticket machines Star Ferry - HK Central view Star Ferry - Commuters

 The first thing I noticed going to Victoria Peak was the long lines. I don't remember falling in line that long to get on the tram to go to the peak the last time I was in HK. It must be the tourists from mainland China? We probably spent two hours all in all waiting in line for the tickets and then to get on the tram. By the time we got to the Peak, it was already a little dark. My brothers and their families decided to check out the Madame Tussaud's nearby while Mijo, my mom, my sis Ren and I just walked around the Peak admiring the scenery till it got dark. The views of the Hongkong skyline and the harbor are amazing from the Peak. I remember the excitement when I saw this view for the first time years ago. If you appreciate cities filled with skyscrapers, you will love this view.
Victoria Peak - View of HK Central 
Victoria Peak - View of HK Central lights Victoria Peak - Sign 
Victoria Peak - Queue Victoria Peak - Madamme Tussauds 

Our second day in HK started on a beautiful Saturday morning. Since our hotel was near Charlie Brown Cafe on Cameron Rd. The entire family decided to meet up there for coffee and light breakfast. I don't really know if there are other Charlie Brown Cafes in Hong Kong but there are no Charlie Brown Cafes in either San Francisco or Manila, it felt like a novelty going there for breakfast. I'd consider this part of the trip a site seeing. Touristy or not, they do serve good coffee and good waffles and pancakes with Charlie Brown characters on them. Not only my nephews and niece loved it, the adults equally enjoyed the breakfast at Charlie Brown Cafe.
 Charlie Brown Cafe HK - Store front
Charlie Brown Cafe HK - Mosaic sign Charlie Brown Cafe HK - Goodies Charlie Brown Cafe HK - Coffee and Waffle

We took the MTR to Tung Chung Cable Car Terminal to go to Lantau Island to see the Big Buddha. Once again, we were met with long lines. This was my third time going to Lantau, first with Mijo and then with my sis the second time. During both times, we took a fast ferry to the island and then a bus took us to the hills. My sis has been to Lantau via the cable car so she's the one leading us that day. Even though  we were in queue for an hour, I like the cable car option better than the fast boat. There is something soothing about taking the cable car and being high up. The landscape surrounding HK is breathtaking. We also got lucky because the sky was clear that day.
Lantau - Steps
They also created a scenic walkway from the cable car station going all the way to the Big Buddha. It is called Ngong Ping and it is a tranquil path dotted with shops and restaurants. The Big Buddha sits on top of a hill and going up there via the steps may be challenging. I recommend pacing yourself when walking up the steps.
Lantau - Tung Chung cable car terminal Lantau - Cable car depot Lantau - Cable cars over the mountains 
Lantau - Ngong Ping Lantau - Looking down from top Lantau - Big Buddha 

While waiting in queue to ride the cable car back to Hongkong, I found this restaurant selling fish balls in curry sauce. Delicious! Both my sisters-in-law were also buying food on and off so we were having a food fest while waiting in line.
Lantau - Curry fish balls

We got back to our hotel a little after 7pm. We freshened up and headed out again to check out the Temple St. Night Market which is only a couple of blocks from our hotel. Lots of souvenir items, bags, clothes, wall art, household items, and other interesting items. I found a cute oil painting on canvas and got to practice my haggling skills. I should have wagered much lower! My sister-in-law Leng found good deals on tshirts as give-aways for her nephews and nieces.
Temple St Night Market - Stores 
Temple St Night Market - Foodie scene Temple St Night Market - Food scene

We also had dinner around Temple St. We found this restaurant crowded with people. This fried fish was drizzled with soy sauce and garnished with green onions. Loved it!
Temple St Night Market - Food scene fish
This ginger chicken was so tasty it was perfect with the warm rice they served.
Temple St Night Market - Food scene ginger chicken

The next morning, we decided to try out some congee (rice soup) at this popular restaurant called Hung Lee Restaurant on Hau Fook St. near Cameron Rd.  There was a line of people when we got there. We were told this place specialize in congee.
Hung Lee - Store front

I tried the pork Congee. I am no connoiseur of congee but I've eaten a lot of it in San Francisco. I loved the consistency and taste of this congee. The congee was probably enough food for breakfast,but as always, we over ordered. We also ordered turnip cakes, fried dough. I love their tea with milk. 
Hung Lee - Pork congee
Hung Lee - Hot tea Hung Lee - Fried dough Hung Lee - Turnip cake

To wash the savory taste, I washed it down with this good Americano from a local coffee chain called Pacific Coffee. We went that day to Macao for a day trip.
Pacific Coffee - Coffee

The ferry going to Macau is a short walk from TST.
Macau - Walk from hotel to ferry termina 
We took the fast Cotati ferry boat to Macau and we were in Macau in no time. Aside from the confusion which ferry to take when we got to the ferry terminal, the trip to Macau was uneventful. Make sure you bring your passport with you because there is passport control when we got to Macau.
Macau - Depart from HK

We took the bus to get to Senado Square. It is a tiled walkway that leads to the St. Paul's ruins. I've learned from my history lessons that Macau was under Portuguese rule. Senado Square shows that. Though I've never been to Portugal but I've been to Rio De Janeiro, another city with Portuguese influence, where the sidewalks are tiled the same way. Even the street names in Macau are in Portuguese.
 Macau - Senado Square tiled walkway 
I don't remember going to Senado Square during my first trip to Macau. The place was crowded. In fact, I saw thick masses of people everywhere we went in Macau. I don't remember this many people in Macau.
Macau - Senado Square crowd Macau - Senado Square street dance Macau - Senado Square Saint Dominic 
Macau - Senado Square holiday lights  Macau - Senado Square holiday displays 

While we were headed to St. Paul's ruins, we saw a group of people eating a delicious looking snack with a curry aroma to it. I mustered the courage to ask one of them where they'd bought the food. The place is called Kai Lei Weng. Luckily, we were not far away from the place. My mom loved it!
Macau - Kai Lei Weng

And a Hello Kitty Cafe is just across the street for a hot tea for me and an iced tea for my sis Ren.
Macau- Hello Kitty Hot tea Iced tea 
And then we walked some more and found this place selling custard pies. And my nephew Lance was around to help me calculate how much was the bill.
Macau - Egg custard

Finally, we made it to the St. Paul's ruin. The place was crowded. We got a great family picture there.
Macau - St. Paul ruins

In this trip, I discovered another side of Macau that I hadn't seen before - the casinos. Though none in my family likes to gamble, we did enjoy the site seeing aspect of looking at the different architecture of the casinos.
Macau - Casino 

The Venetian is huge. I've been to the Venetian in Vegas but this one in Macau is probably at least twice as big.
Macau - Venetian 
Macau - Venetian street Macau - Venetian shuttle Macau - Venetian gondola

The Parisian is enormous but it did make me feel like I was in Paris.
Macau - Parisian Eiffel tower 
Macau - Parisian fountain Macau - Parisian checkin

Coming back from Macao, we decided to check out the holiday displays at the Hongkong Central where they have this giant Christmas tree on display. The skyscrapers were also lit to add more festive displays.  HK is magical during the holiday season.
Hongkong Central - Holiday scenes

The following morning, we had another dimsum breakfast at Guandong Barbecue RestaurantI forgot how to say delicious in Cantonese.
Guandong Barbecue Restaurant - Dimsum

Afterward, we all headed to Hongkong Disneyland. This was my first time at the HK Disneyland. The last time I was at a Disneyland, it was in Anaheim in California about 20 years ago. Even if I tried, my memory of that trip to Disneyland is a little blurry.  We took the same MTR line as the other day going to Lantau but we got off to connect to the yellow line going to Disneyland. It is great that HK built a line to allow people to go to Disneyland via public transportation. My nephews and niece were giddy when we arrived Disneyland. 
Disneyland Hongkong - Welcome sign 

It is truly the happiest place on earth. What's happier was I was with my family. The weather cooperated too. Glorious sunshine! I don't know how many pictures we took during our first 30 minutes but I bet there were a lot. I have to ask this question the next time I see my family.
  Disneyland Hongkong - Townhalljpg 

  Disneyland Hongkong - Main St 

Like what I mentioned earlier, I tried to remember what this castle looked like in California but no luck. Let's just say about the same size?
  Disneyland Hongkong - Sleeping Beauty castle 

Lines galore. First attraction we got to see was Mickey and The Wondrous Book. The shows are entertaining. This was the first time I witnessed Mickey and Goofy speaking in Cantonese. It's kind of cute. Dont worry, there are subtitles by the sides of the stage. We got to see the Little Mermaid, Fantasia and Elsa during the show.
Disneyland Hongkong - Mickey and Wondrous Book Goofy Mickey 
Disneyland Hongkong - Mickey and Wondrous Book Disneyland Hongkong - Mickey and Wondrous Book queue 
Disneyland Hongkong - Mickey and Wondrous Book Mickey Goofy Disneyland Hongkong - Mickey and Wondrous Book Ariel 
Here's Let It Go. 
I thought I heard ooohhs and aaaahhhs from the crowd. 
  Disneyland Hongkong - Mickey and Wondrous Book Elsa 

Next one is my favorite, Small World. By this time, I didn't mind the long queues anymore. If you want to see the wonders of the world in a few minutes, you've got to go see this. Happiness and world peace galore and the Small World song playing over and over in your head.
Disneyland Hongkong - Small World UK 
Disneyland Hongkong - Small World Disneyland Hongkong - Small World queue Disneyland Hongkong - Small World USA
Disneyland Hongkong - Small World multiculture Disneyland Hongkong - Small World Italy 

And here's the Philippines. Mabuhay!
  Disneyland Hongkong - Small World Philippines 

Barbecue Pork and veggies for lunch. My brother Rein mentioned that we might have spent a long time eating lunch we could have used that time for another ride. He has a point. Next time, we'll be wiser with time. But this lunch was sooooo gooooood.
Disneyland Hongkong - Lunch 

 Afterward, we saw this parade called the Flight of Fantasy. Funny how I don't know most of the characters especially the new ones. I had to ask my nephews and niece about the characters.
Disneyland Hongkong - Flights of Fantasy Toy Story 
Disneyland Hongkong - Flights of Fantasy Snow White Disneyland Hongkong - Flights of Fantasy Pluto Minnie Mouse Disneyland Hongkong - Flights of Fantasy Lion King 
Disneyland Hongkong - Flights of Fantasy Dumbo Disneyland Hongkong - Flights of Fantasy Chipmunk 

This was the only ride I got on.
  Disneyland Hongkong - Cups 

  Disneyland Hongkong - Cinderella Carousel 

Afterward, we saw the shortened version of the Lion King. It was pretty good! The performers were top notch!
Disneyland Hongkong - Lion King finale 
 Disneyland Hongkong - Lion King dancing Disneyland Hongkong - Lion King begin Disneyland Hongkong - Lion King singing 

 We even got to see the evening parade. Amazing lighting and music!
Disneyland Hongkong - Night Parade Under the sea 
Disneyland Hongkong - Night Parade Monster Inc Disneyland Hongkong - Night Parade Minnie 
Disneyland Hongkong - Night Parade Mickey Disneyland Hongkong - Night Parade Cars 

Disneyland Hongkong - Sleeping Beauty castle night

We waited long enough to see this amazing fireworks.
  Disneyland Hongkong - Sleeping Beauty castle fireworks 

  Disneyland Hongkong - Sleeping Beauty castle fireworks begin 

Good bye, Disney. Until we meet again.
  Disneyland Hongkong - The End 

    I am glad I got to discover the Kowloon side of HK, TST and Nathan Road in this. It is less glamorous but I think it has its own charm and vibe which is  different from the HK island.
Nathan Road - Street scene 
Nathan Road - Street art Nathan Road - City Flyer A21 Hongkong - More displays 
Hongkong - Kowloon Prominade Hongkong - Holiday displays Kowloon Park - Taichi 

 Here are some views of Chep Lak Kok airport. Huge! 
HK Airport - Walkway
It was just unfortunate that we didn't have enough time to walk around and check out more of the airport. There were art and cultural displays I saw from the mechanical walkways but we never had the opportunity to see them upclose.
HK Airport - Mural HK Airport - Hall HK Airport - Decor 
HK Airport - Crowd HK Airport - Cathay Pacific planes 

I was able to try out some Chinese food from a restaurant at the HK airport.

HK Airport - Food 

Here is the snack they offered in the Cathay Pacific Manila to Hongkong flight.
Cathay Pacific - HKG to MNL snack

Here is the Sausage and Eggs twisty pasta being served at McDonald's in Hongkong.
HK McDonalds - Sausage N Egg Twisty Pasta

At KFC, people use plastic gloves to eat the fingerlicking fried chicken.
KFC - Hongkong style 
Next time, I will do less touristy things and explore more museums and shopping. The good thing about HK is that it is only 2 hours away from Manila. 

I also had fun traveling with my family fambam!


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