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Welcome to my blog!
I am sharing stories of my trips and providing some tips in case you also want to travel.
This is also a photo blog, so I hope you like the candid photos I have taken from different places!

Thank you for visiting my blog.

- CB (freezymenthol)

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Casual Weekend in Hong Kong and Macau

For Filipinos, Hong Kong and Macau are the default "first-out-of-the-country" go to because of various cheap airfares available. These places also showcase alot of diffent things to do like shopping malls,theme parks and casinos (Macau). And in most cases, after visiting these places, we Filipinos yearn to come back again and again.

For me, this was my 4th time to visit Hong Kong and my 1st time to visit Macau. I think its about time to put my travel into writing, just in case some folks would want to know the where-to's and the how-to's of these places.

I originally planned to JUST visit Macau, so I booked it during one of those crazy seat sales in Cebu Pacific. Luckily, I was able to book some pretty cheap tickets going to Macau during my preferred dates,July 2-5. During seat sales sales, you can get for as low as Php1,800.00 roundtrip, which I did.

After securing the airline tickets, the next step was to book a hotel. I logged on to
www.asiatravel.com and checked out some cheap hotels in Macau. To my surprise, there were REALLY FEW budget hotels in Macau, like Ole London. The problem is, because of the scarcity of budget hotels, they are oftentimes fully booked (and expensive) on weekends. The next choices of hotels were already very expensive, like Venetian, Wynn, MGM and Grand Lisboa. Now, if you have the budget to spend a night or two on these hotels, then by all means go ahead. At one point, I wanted to cancel my trip becausethe hotels in Macau were really expensive, but then I thought, I could just take a ferry to Hong Kong, stay there for the first 2 nights, and on my last day, roam around Macau - which I eventually did. So I also secured Ferry Tickets online. you can check CotaiJet's website, but usually a roudtrip would cost HK$350.00.

Now there are two major Ferry Terminals in Macau as well as in Hong Kong. In Macau, there's the Taipa Terminal, which is just adjacentto the Macau International Airport. There's another one after crossing the bridge that connects Taipa island the main Macau area. In Hong Kong, there is the Hong Kong-MacauFerry terminal located in Shun Tak Center, Hong Kong Island. The other one is the Hong Kong-China Ferry Terminal which is located in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Like I mentioned earlier, my first few days were in Hong Kong, and I stayed at the hotel I regularly go to whenever I am in Hong Kong. Harour Plaza Resort City is a destination of its own. It is located in Tin Shui Wai District in New Territories. Many wouldconsider it a bit far from the hustle and bustle of Mong Kong and Central, but if you a privy to Hong Kong public transportation, Tin Shui Wai to Tsim Sha Tsuiwould take you 30 mins by MTR or 40 mins by bus. Harbour Plaza Resort City has a mall on the ground floor (pretty much like Resorts World Manila without the Casino) and Tin Shui Wai Park which offers a good stroll every morning. The hotel is also a few tram-stops away from Hong Kong Wetland Park, which,I have yet to visit. The malk on the ground floor has good brands like Giordano, Bossini, Nike, Converse, Addidas Fila, etc and they are as cheap as the ones you see in Tsim Sha Tsui. Kinswood Ginza Mall also has 4 cinemas. If you are not the "adventurous-eater" type, there's 7-11, KFC, And Mcdonalds. I couldwrite a separate blog about Harbour Plaza Resort City, but one thing I would also add is that they offer spacious rooms with full amenities as opposed to those hotels in Hong Kong at a reasonable price of around Php2900 to Php3400.

Since this is my 4th time in Hong Kong, I have to go to places I have never checked out before, so I opted for two major activites - Ngong Ping 360 and Victoria Peak at Night.

Ngong Ping 360 can be reached via MTR. Alight at Tung Chung station, and the entrance to the park is just a few meters away. You can also travel by bus, and in my case, from Tin Shui Wai, take bus E64 and alight at Tung Chung Fire Station stop. Ngong Ping 360 opens at 10am.

I came about 20 minutes early. Riding the cable car gives you a fantastic view of Lantau Island and other outlying islands. Also, you can see Chep Lak Kok International Airport as well. The whole one-way cable car trip was about 30 mins. Once I arrived at Ngong Ping Village, I went to see the big bronze Buddha. Getting there can be a bit of a challenge, but since, I could say I'm fit, I can was able to conquer the steps reaching the bronze Buddha. Upon reaching the peak, There was ice cream and bottled water - which I consider a form of reward. I stayed for a couple of minutes, took some pictures and went inside the hall to see some artifacts about Buddhism and such. At this point, no cameras were not allowed. After that, I went down to the Ngong Ping Village to eat some lunch, buy some souvenirs and watch some shows.

There were 2 regular shows that you can at Ngong Ping Village - Walking with Buddha and the Three Monkeys. You can buy them as a package when you purchase the Round Trip Cable Car Ticket, or you can buy them separately at Ngong Ping Village. Walking with Buddha and The Three Monkeys Story both run every three minutes, each of them alternating so you can hop from one show to another.

Walking with Buddha was a cartoon film showcasing the life of Buddha from his early life as prince until he became the Enlightened One. The Monkey Story is also a cartoon film showcasing good values and teachings. Both of them obviously educational!

The other show, which I think don`t run regularly was the Shaolin Kung Fu demo. After which, you can sign-up for a free training with the Shaolin Kung Fu Masters!

The whole Ngong Ping 360 Tour can took me half a day which gave me time to do the best thing in Hong Kong - shopping! Whats more convenient is after doing Ngong Ping 360, I went to the mall adjacent to it - the CityGate Outlet Mall. The first time I went to this mall was last year with my family. The mall showcased a lot of imported brands with reasonable `on sale` prices. Plus you get tempted to shop more, because as you spending increases so as your rebates. For example, in Giordano, shop until you reach HK$500 and geta rebate of HK$100. And just like last year, I took time in searching the racks and getting that best deal! I was able to shop for some khakis at Giordao, some shirts for my mom at Mango at Sports Gear at Adidas! All way below HK$500.

Another thing that I visited last time was The Peak, located at Hong Kong island. But of course on these visits, I usually go in the afternoon, so I decided to have my 3rd trip at night. So I brought my camera and tripod so I can take some fantastic night shots at the Peak. My third trip was a charm and was considerably easy since I already know how to. But for first timers, if you`re coming from Tsim Shat Sui, there are two options: take the MTR and alight at Central and walk north until you reach the Tram Station (which is always crowded). Or, for a more intimate trip, take the Ferry at Tsim Sha Tsui Ferry Terminal and cross Victoria Harbour. As soon as you alight on the other side, take a bus ride going to the Peak. I arrived their around 5pm, so I grabbed some snack first at Burger King. And then as night fell, I went up to the Peak Sky Park and spent some quality time with my camera taking night shots of the famous Hong Kong Skyline.

I went back to the hotel, packed my bags and readied for my trip back to Macau the following day. I left the hotel around 8am to catch my Ferry going to back to Macau. My ferry ride to Macau was scheduled at 10am, but since I arrived pretty early at Hong Kong - Macau Terminal at Shun Tak Station, they let me in at the 9:30am trip. As soon as I arrived in Macau, I boarded the Venetian Macao Bus. Take note, riding hotel buses in Macau is free so you can practically roam around this little city without even paying for bus fares. As soon as I arrived in Venetian Macao, the grand hallway welcomed me and the guests with grand paintings and great decorations! No wonder this hotel was the most talked about in Macao! I put my bags on the luggage counter and started strolling around the hotel.

The Venetian Macao is huge! They have the Grand Canal Mall, wherein you can shop while riding to one of those famous Venice Gondolas. Then there`s the Casino, which for me was the largest I seen so far (comparing to Resorts World and Pagcor in Manila). I played some slot machines, but I won`t deal on that in detail since it did not do well. But after gambling, I boarded the bus to bring me to the City Center and walked around Senado Square and Ruins of St. Paul.

Senado Square reminded me of Intramuros. If Intramuros was inspired by Spanish influence, Senado Square is inspired by Portugese Influence. Similarly, you can visit some old churches, but the most famous one would be Ruins of St. Paul. I spent probably 3 hours just roaming around and taking clicks on my camera, then decided to go back to Venetian Macao.

As soon as I arrived at the hotel, I took my bags and went to the airport to catch my 11pm flight. I took a final peak of the Venetian Hotel and took a photo of its tower.

This will not be my last trip to Hong Kong and evidently to Macau.