HONG KONG, SAR CHINA – Even a glimpse from the airplane window can tell whether the land below offers its visitors with fun and excitement.
At around 10PM local time, the aerial view of this celebrated tourist destination had given me a kaleidoscope of thrill and childhood nostalgia.
Hongkong was once, just a childhood dream and a postcard display. So that night as I set foot on Hongkong International Airport, I suddenly felt awakened by the thought that dreams do come true.
Welcomed by the fresh, cold wind and authentic scent of local noodles, I opened my eyes to everything foreign and new.
Together with a friend, I took a night bus from the airport to Des Voeux Road where the apartment unit we rented was located.
Booked back in Manila (through Travel Mob), the room lies on the 12th floor of a typical Hong Kong residential building -an unassuming, narrow building amidst other old buildings in Sai Wan area.
For 1,500.00 PHP a night, in an expensive city, the three-night stay in a compact space with complete essentials was not bad. A tiny window that offers a view of the neighborhood was a bonus for any crowded location.
Other cheap rooms you can check out in Hong Kong
We didn’t hit the sack without having something to eat so we decided to go out and look for an authentic Hongkong noodle house. Fortunately, there were three or four restaurants outside the building. We picked the one with many customers and a television airing a local variety show.
Our standards for milk tea and noodles have gone higher the moment we tasted their bestsellers. Compared to “authentic HK noodles and milk tea” sold in Manila, this restaurant defined “authentic” — a burst of flavors and scents only HK could offer.
We slept with too much euphoria as we did not mind the small bed and cold weather –clueless about the surprises the next day would offer.
Trams and railways to the world’s happiest place.
With our transportation cards (the Octopus card can be bought in the airport and this can be used to buy food as well), we were welcomed in the streets in glorious morning sunlight and cold wind.
I thought I was in a Wong Kar Wai film while riding on a two-floor tram. The slow-moving vehicle gave me an invigorating view of Hongkong’s culture and progress. A marriage of the old and new, this Chinese administrative region was able to retain its identity while at par with our fast-changing times.
Vuitton, Armani and countless banks sit together with stores selling dried fish and charms. Ancient stone buildings brush shoulders with glass-enclosed offices like Yin and Yang. Elegant office employees in suits and leggings walk together with the least fashionable citizens.
It was all about CONTRAST; the peace and the fast, like the train we took to every child’s dream destination.
We have checked out first the exhibits in the Hong Kong Museum of Art which is just beside the Avenue of Stars.
A Symphony of Lights by the Victoria Harbour is perfectly viewed along the Avenue of Stars. During peak tourist season, better be an hour early to get the best spot.
Celebrate your birthday in Disneyland.
We got our discounted Disneyland tickets in World-Wide House. There are many Filipinos here and they were more than willing to assist once you asked around where to buy the tickets.
Going to Disneyland on Lantau Island is easy with the interconnected train lines and a dedicated Disneyland train.
If it is your birthday, you can get a pin in the City Hall and enjoy the birthday greetings all throughout your stay inside Disneyland.
Eating inside Disneyland could be chaotic. The place can be too crowded that you have to wait for a table to free up. We ended up with a fast food lunch. Despite that, I loved it devoured it as fast as I could. The rides are waiting.
A parade is scheduled showcasing some familiar Disney characters. This is really amazing for the kids and the kids-at-heart.
My favorite ride will be the Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars.
My next favorite ride will be Space Mountain.
Wait for the “Disney in the Stars” fireworks display. Check for the schedule here.
Getting out of Disneyland with the crowd:
Shopping in Hong Kong Night Market
We did our souvenir shopping in Temple St. In essence, we felt like we were in Divisoria.
Going back to the airport
We used the direct bus to the airport from our accommodation. We just made sure to allot at least an extra hour for this bus ride. We have also spent the rest of the Octopus card in the airport food kiosk. The cards have deposits that cannot be used for purchases. We have to return the card and get the deposit in the Octopus card station. Mind the airport train link between terminals as this can take about 30 minutes.