Hong Kong Trip

September 18, 2oo7

I’ve been to HK before with my parents, but that was when I was waaaaay young, so I don’t remember much except for the tiny hotel rooms and crowded-ness. So this trip was a brand new experience in a different country, especially since HK seems to have become a haven for rich Chinese people. I kept hearing stories about how the prices have skyrocketed because of all the Chinese people from the Mainland going there during the weekends to shop. I can totally see that as we heard a lot of Mainland China Chinese accents during our trip there. Anyway, here’s what we did, day by day, more as a reminder to myself than anything. =P Don’t want to forget this trip!

Day One
Left Taipei around 5 pm to head to the CKS airport. The flight was pretty short; probably one of the shortest ones I’ve ever taken, not including that flight from LA to San Antonio, but I don’t really remember how long that flight was, so the HK flight could, technically, be shorter. Eh, anyway, they were showing Ocean’s 13 on the plane, but we landed before we even got half way. WAH. =( I still wanna watch it. Customs and everything at the HK end went smoothly, then we hopped on the Airport Express to go to Hong Kong to transfer to the MTR to get to our hotel which was in North Point. The public transportation in HK is really convenient, although a tad bit expensive. Wait, I mean really expensive; we racked up about ten thousand NT dollars in transportation fee for the six of us for four days. o___O Lotsa lotsa money. But public transportation is always a good thing since it means we could get to all our destinations and sightseeing places without having to worry about renting a car or getting a taxi. 🙂

So we reach our destination on the MTR without a problem, except it was still prett packed at like 10pm. Then we exit the station and we make a right (I still remember this super clearly), and we walk for a while …. Hmm, the hotel’s supposed to be near the MTR station, it shouldn’t be so far. So then my cousin asks a pedestrian (she did that a lot during the trip) and we find out that our street is actually in the opposite direction … !@##@!@##@!%%$ dear God. So we turn around and walk back the way we came, pass the MTR station, but we still can’t find the damn street. So we asked another pedestrian and he pointed that the street was on the other side and that we’d gone past it … !@#!$#@W!@# So we cross the street and head back. Finally find the street we’re looking for and walk towards the hotel. By that time it was probably like … 10, 1030 pm, so the stores around the hotel were closed, but each store emanated this weird, kinda stinky smell … and we realized that our hotel was right smack in the middle of a traditional market. o___O Hahahahaha. Nice. At least the hotel was pretty nice and clean and big; not as small as the one we stayed in before. At least I got my own bed (finally!!).

After a brief respite, and I mean a BRIEF one, we head back out to find some food to eat b/c we were hungry. My cousin had saw this fish ball place during our pre-hotel adventure, so we headed there. When we got there, it was closed … (AHHHH!!!), so we head back towards the hotel in search of food and a Welcome because we wanted to see how much water cost and other potential necessities, but everything was closed! Luckily, we found a congee place that was still open, so we went and ate some thousand year old egg and pork congee … so good. Quite enjoyable. =) Post-food we went back to the hotel because we were all pooped from the walking AND the heat. HK is SO hot .. and humid … and it doesn’t help that there are a bahjillion a/c’s spitting their warm air into the streets, along with cars and buses with their exhaust polluting the air. HK air is definitely not one of the best ones I’ve been in. I’d say it’s worse than Taipei.

So that was our day one.

Day Two
Got a wake up call at 730 am even though the plan was 8 am … yes, 1/2 an hour makes a lot of difference considering how tired we were! Anyway, so we head out in search of the IFC building because Karen had to meet with her friend who’d bought us Ocean Park tickets (cheaper, because his wife is a teacher). Asked a couple of people when we reached the appropriate MTR station and then found a pay fone. She didn’t recognize him because they’d never really met. They just communicated online since he e-mailed her after seeing her graduation exhibit … fortunately, he recognized her, so all was good. We got our tickets and decided to go get some breakfast …. went to pret a manger .. DOODE. They’re sandwiches were pretty expensive, but heck, I was hungry so watever.

Post-breakfast we went in search of the bus station to take bus 629 to Ocean Park. Got lost, asked many, many people, finally reached it. Good thing we were first in line because there were lots of people who were going on the bus. Arrived at the Park and started our day at Ocean Park Hong Kong. First we went to see the pandas. OMG. so cuuuuute!!! I still find it ironic how the main feature of the OCEAN park seemed to be pandas … hmm. so much for ocean animals. 😛 But they were super duper duper duper cuuuute … aww. After that we decided to go to the other side of the park where we had to take the sky train over a big hill/small mountain. Everyone was nervous about getting on and sitting on it for the 1.4 km distance because it was really high up and we recently heard about some sky train falling somewhere. But we made it in one piece and the view was fantastic, so it was well worth the nervousness. Upon arriving we still had time to kill before the dolphin/sea lion show, so we went on some rides. I was in HK with a bunch of wimps. NOBODY wanted to ride rollercoasters with me. The only ones they rode on was a mining car one where there were no upside down turns ….. and also a log boat ride where we got semi wet .. not too wet tho. But it was SO hot that any kind of wet was a relief from the humidity and heat. But the water dried off soon after while we were eating lunch. Only in Asia do they have cha sieu pork and duck and rice in theme parks. Most people were in line for that, but I craved a hot dog and fries, so that’s what I got. It was decent. =)

After our nice lunch break, we wanted to go see seals, but we got stuck in the arena where the sea lion and dolphin show was going to be, so we decided to just sit there and get a good seat. So. we sat there for an hour, maybe more, and steamed in our seats. The heat was ridiculous! :\ But finally the show started and it turned out to be a disappointment. Sea World San Diego and apparently our Sea World in Hualien have way better shows. Bah, wasted 1 hour of my life sitting there …. and dying slowly from the heat. After the show we went to the aquarium-ish areas – sharks, fish, etc. because they had a/c …. we saw sea dragons! first time ever for me to see those … didn’t even know they existed. Pretty! And also saw many sharks, different kinds of fish, sea turtles, eels, sting rays, etc. It was pretty cool actually.

Then it was time to go, so we took the sky train back to the front door and for some reason the bus stop right at the front door didnt have the bus to go back to where we came from .. Random. So we had to walk around to find the bus stop to go back to the city. Had to ask around a lot to find the right place, finally find the stop, get on the bus, go back to where we came from, find another bus stop to take the bus up to The Peak, ask around, find it, get on the bus and head on up. The driver was insane …. he just pressed on the gas and rarely let go to press on the breaks … :\ Swerving left and right .. thank God I was so tired that I just passed out until we got to the top. Went into the mall and had dinner in a Japanese restaurant. We were all so hungry so everything looked good, but when the food came, we realized how bad it was. My meat was ridiculously hard, the noodles had no taste, etc. The only good things were the sashimi that came w/ the noodles and also the eel rice. Aih. But it satisfied our hunger, so we left and went to the top where we could look down and see the city. The night view was really pretty, however it was still semi smoggy so it wasn’t as clear as it could be, which kinda sucked. :\ Meh, took a lot of pictures of the scenery and decided it was time to go back down the mountain. Instead of the bus we took the tram … that was a fun experience. You could look outside and see the city get closer as you slant your way down the mountain. Fun fun fun!

My cousin had found a milk dessert place online before we went to Hong Kong, so we decided to go there for dessert. Took the bus, then the MTR, and finally reached our destination after asking more people for directions. The dessert was yum, not sure what it was; all I know is that it had to do with milk … kind of like nai lao … anyway, had an original flavor one and a chocolate one. It was prettttttty good. 😀 Not good for lactose intolerant people, though. The place was packed, though. Guess it’s a really popular place. So after that we were all tired, so we headed back to our stop and went to Welcome to buy some water because we were running low. Ended up buying some fruits and also a six pack of Budweiser to teach the cousin and her bf some American drinking games. 😛

Beer’s always nasty though. No matter what kind. We played King’s Cup and got nice and sleepy after chugging down the beers. Well, my cousin felt pukey after not even a can of beer so she opted out of heart attack where we downed the rest of the beers. Then it was definitely time for bed.

That’s it for day two.

Day Three
Woke up a bit later, at 8 am and headed to a dim sum restaurant that was supposed to be pretty good. Got there at 9 and the place was packed already, so we had to wait 1/2+ to get a table. But I think it was worth the wait. =P Their dim sum was so gooooooooood. Service was aite, but hey, as long as the food is good. So much better than Taiwanese attempt at dim sum. Poo! Haha, after brunch we headed to the Central Pier to take the ferry to Kowloon. Finally got there after a bit of being lost and wandering upstairs and downstairs at the pier to see where to get on the ferry. Finally make it to Kowloon and our feet are killing us already. Try to shop at the mall, but the mall is HUGE and super confusing. Kept getting lost and couldn’t find the stores we wanted to. Did a little bit of shopping, but didn’t buy anything except nail polish. Our aunt bought a pair of crocs, though. And as ugly as they are, they are pretty comfy; much more comfy than the shoes she’d brought, so she got that and wore it for the rest of the trip. =) The mall was pretty nice, lots of expensive brands and it was packed. Lots of people buying stuff and walking around. It was squishy. =.=

So then we were hungry, and Karen’s friend had reserved a table for us at this good teow chow restaurant, but it was at 830!!! Way too late; so at 430 we went to the restaurant to see if they’d seat us earlier. Seating us earlier wasn’t a problem, but they didn’t start serving dinner till 6 pm … so we had an hour and a half to kill. Luckily, my cousin had bought a Rummikube (sp?) game at Toys R Us earlier, so we just played that till it was time. The food was goooooood. So yummy in my tummy. 🙂 And the restaurant was nice. And the view outside the restaurant was super nice too … we were supposed to watch the light show from the restaurant because you can see the other side, but because we went early, we had to vacate our seat before 8 (the show was at 8), so we finished up and went in search of a place to watch the show. After asking for more directions, we find the place and wait for the show to start. It was another disappointment. If they choreographed it better so that the lights weren’t all over the place and that you didnt’ have to turn every which way once in a while to see what was going on, it could’ve been not disappointing. But alas, it wasn’t, so it wasn’t that great.

It was then time to go to Ladies’ Market, which was like a night market except the products were geared towards women. It was squishy, packed, and super duper duper hot. Ridiculously hot. That just spoiled any urge to shop. So we walked up and down and looked at products. The funny part was that when we asked how much a product was, they’d say 100+ and then my cousin would try to haggle the price … It’d drop to maybe 50 and for some reason we’d decide we didn’t want it and walk away, and then the store lady comes chasing after us and saying, i’ll sell it to you for 20! 20! …. It’s like, what? that’s a BIG drop. hahaha too sketchy .. made me want to buy anything there even less. But you’d see all these foreigners with bags of stuff they’d bought. I hope they know that most, if not all, of that stuff was fake and really bad quality. Meh. Anyway, after that we were al tired so it was time to go back to the hotel … Thus ending day three.

Day Four
Our last day! After checking out of the hotel and then checking in our luggage at the Airport Express Hong Kong station, we took the MTR to Dong Yung, and that was a looong train ride. We got there around 1 pm and went to the outlet mall to shop a little and then we headed up to the Big Buddha. The bus ride was like 45 minutes long, but the roads were small and in not-so-great conditions. The bus drivers’ skills were mad crazy! After reaching the top of the mountain, we went to this tea garden next to the Big Buddha steps for lunch. It sounds nice, rite? Tea Garden. Unfortunately, the kitchen and food area didn’t seem so sanitary, but the food was pretty good. We ate vegetarian food and I was actually pretty satisfied, for once. 😛 After lunch we decided to climb the steps up to the top where the Big Buddha was. There were lots of steps. 248 to be precise. It was tiring and sweaty and HOT HOT HOT. Ahhhh. When we got up there we were all sweating like pigs, so our pictures were all sweat-filled. After resting a bit and eating some ice cream, we headed back down; when I reached the bottom, my legs were kinda shakey from all that climbing and tension while coming down. Ahhh. craziness. Enough exercise for the day. 😛 We ate more ice cream and then headed back down the mountain to the outlet store where we went shopping crazy. Kinda. Bought a jacket from Seven7 and shirts from Esprit. Pretty cheap; well, cheaper than if I’d bought them at the real store, for sure.

Then it was dinner with Karen’s friend. Awkward dinner. It was her friend, his wife, their kids, and us six. Omg. They have the cutest baby EVER. She was so cuuuute…. 3 months old and tiny. awwww. I wanted to pinch her cheeks and when she smiled it was like, awwwww. But other than that, it was an awkward dinner because they didnt speak mandarin well, and we didn’t speak Cantonese …. thank God the wife could speak a little mandarin and Karen could understand a little Canto. So we basically just listened to them talk. Haha. It wasn’t so bad, but just awkward. After dinner, Karen wanted to buy some pants from Esprit so we went shopping a little bit more and then it was time to take the bus to the airport.

We probably shouldn’t have spent that long of a time at Esprit after dinner, but we did, so we were a bit late arriving at the airport. We had to also go and get our remaining money back from the MTR cards, and we had trouble finding the place. So after asking for directions and running around, we finally get it done and it’s time to head in. There’s a line at the immigration place, and dear Ryan realized he lost one of the forms he needs, so he had to refill one out and then get back in line … that took up a bit more time. We were speed walking to the gate and we hadn’t realized that we needed to take a train to get to our gate area. So we had to wait for one, and all this time, my uncle walks really slow, so we were all stressed about him taking his own sweet time while our boarding time was over by 20 minutes and we had 10 minutes left before the doors closed on the plane. By the time we finally got to the gate, it was final boarding call and if we’d been a little bit later, we would’ve missed our flight.

OMG. haha. First time I’ve had to experience that ever. I always try to make it to the airport a lot earlier, but that day we lost track of time, got too into the shopping mood, and we paid for it in the end by having to run throughout the airport, too the gate. It was insane. And stressful. Never wanna go through that again. But we made it (yay!) and arrived back in Taiwan safe and sound.

That ends our trip to Hong Kong. It was a lot of fun! Just wish we didn’t have to walk so much and get lost so much. But I guess that’s what always happens when you visit a new country you’re not familiar with. It was an adventure and I quite enjoyed myself. Too bad now it’s back to work and blahness. At least there’s no work today due to the typhoon. Hopefully there’s no major accidents or death and we can all enjoy our day off in Taipei city and county. 🙂 Weeee.