Last New Year of 2016 I had four days vacation from work. Three months before that time I was fully decided to go to Singapore to experience New Year but sadly my friend who is supposed to be traveling with me backed out from our travel plan because some of her family members abroad will be coming home for the season. I also lost my contact with my Singaporean friend so I thought of just giving up my travel plan for the New Year. But, God is so kind one of my co-worker and friend asked me about invitation letter in Hong Kong. So, Ting!!! I got the idea of going with her in Hong Kong.
Her aunt is so kind to include me on her invitation letter but I still booked my hotel near their place in Tung Chung for immigration purposes. To my knowledge, only family members are allowed for invitation letters so I booked my hotel reservation which I eventually cancelled once I got the confirmation letter.
We booked our plane ticket six weeks before our travel date. I observed that when you travel on the day of new year the tickets are cheaper compared when you travel 2 or 3 days before the new year. In our case I booked our ticket on December 31 and it only costs around Php 3,000 for one way ticket per person. But the return ticket is so expensive especially on Sunday January 3 it costs at least Php 11,000. So I booked our return ticket on January 4 Monday which costs Php 4, 608.53. All in all, our plane ticket costs Php 7, 608.53 each. Of course when you book a ticket there are additional charges such as check in baggage fees which cost Php 1,500 for 20 kilograms, travel insurance Php 500, rice meals Php 300, seat selection Php 300. I cancelled everything even the travel insurance I just purchased our plane ticket with 7 kgs. hand carry baggage.
I took good care of the things we need here in the Philippines. They include the documents that we need in the immigration, our bus reservation from Baguio City to the airport and back. My friend is a first time overseas traveler so I gave her the initiation to plan our itinerary and all the things we need in Hong Kong. I can say she did a good job.
We first went to the ferry going to Victoria Harbor where you can see the beautiful sky scrappers of Hong Kong but sadly, we are quite late for the ferry so we just settle on the Ferry station which is still good because we can see the fireworks and symphony of lights for the New Year’s countdown.
The next day we went to Ngong Ping 360 for the cable car experience. Men, the line was long but we are OK since we can feel that the line was moving. After an hour we were able to buy our ticket. We bought one way standard ticket.You can choose between crystal and standard. Crystal is more expensive since the floor of the cable car is made of glass but I think it will challenge you to face your fear of heights. We are kinda in a budget and I’m not ready for the crystal challenge so we chose standard cable car. It is peak season so it cost us HKD 130. After 20 minutes ride, we stroll around Ngong Ping village, hiked the Big Buddha statue and do a little trekking in Wisdom Path.
The next stop, we rode a bus going to Cheung Sha Beach, which is quite difficult experience because we were lost. We rode Number 23 bus going to Tung Chung that will pass by Cheung Sha but, I was asleep due to too much tiredness and we aren’t aware that we have to tell the driver before taking off to drop us to Cheung Sha so we ended up going back to Tung Chung bus station. Asking some fellow Filipinos they told us to ride the M3 Bus but it was a mistake because it will not even pass by our destination. We asked other people around and gladly they informed us that A35 Bus will pass by Cheung Sha Beach. We first confirmed to the driver if the bus will pass by Cheng Sha and he said Yes. So Wollah!! Cheung Sha Beach touchdown. Well, as they say we just have to accept that not everything will go as plan. We will be lost, left by bus, and so on but we just have to value the memory, the experience and the lesson.
And, Oh! we also met my friend’s relative there. We agreed to meet in the bus stop going to Cheung Sha but because we don’t have contact with each other we just go our on way and happily, they are already there when we arrive. 🙂
The next day we went to Macau, which I am going to talk about on my other blog. So for the last day in Hong Kong it was Sunday I had a lot of experience and lessons learned at that time. It was kinda bad day in Hong Kong. It was raining and foggy so the view in Victoria Harbor isn’t that visible. We enjoyed it anyway. Then we went World Wide Market for shopping for cheap and good buys. I observe that this market is mostly Filipino goods. I saw a lot of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) there. It is Sunday so it is their day off from work. It is a busy day for that market as there are a lot of customers buying their goods and BDO and LBC Remittance centers have long lines. I am honestly surprise to see a lot of OFWs and foreign workers laying cartons along the streets having picnics, playing cards and calling their loved ones in the Philippines. According to my friend’s aunt, it is better to save money than to go shopping and spend money. That is their common way of spending their day off. She has a point anyway. After buying some souvenir we ate at a Chinese restaurant where we had Chinese food such as dimsum. It really tastes good. The waiter brought two kettles of tea and a big bowl. My friend asked her aunt what is it for. Her aunt showed us how it works before we eat. She used the kettle of tea to wash our dishes in a big bowl. It is a manner of making sure that our dishes are clean before eating our food. We also talked about Chinese tradition and culture which gave us a lot of ideas about Chinese.
This trip made me also observe how Cantonese live their everyday life. Aside from their high cost of living (3-4x more exy than the Philippines) I noticed that their moves are really fast. From their escalators to the cashiers. I can’t complain about their speed in any establishments from restaurants to convenient stores it was really fast. They don’t make people wait and they don’t like waiting.In the escalators, people are still walking up or walking down even though it is moving fast. In the bus, once the passengers get in, the bus will run immediately. The driver will not wait for you to be settled before he or she runs the engine. You gotta have good grip on the side bars going to your seat. I said “she” because it is my first time to see female bus drivers in Hong Kong. Amazing huh! I never experienced any traffic in Hong Kong. During our third day, I was trying to do my make up in the bus but I can’t finish applying my gel liner because the bus wouldn’t stop. The bus only stops for a few seconds if the traffic light is red or in the bus stop to drop or pick up passengers. Love it! Another thing when the bus stops in the terminal, people from the back would immediately move forward, very eager to get off the bus. It’s really different from our practice in the Philippines where in the people in front of the bus will be the first to get off. Then again, THEY DON’T WAIT. But I saw how discipline they are in terms of getting in line. It is a rare case for them to cut in line. If there is someone trying to do so, some people will show them to the end of the line. They are also pro-environment. Hong Kong is clean. I never saw scattered trash on the street or everywhere. When they go shopping or buy groceries they bring their own eco-bag. It is a very good idea to recycle and minimize the use of plastic bags. I just don’t like that they don’t consider other people you know. I was honestly kinda pissed when we were in our line going to the cable car in Ngong Ping. There were four children at my back. You now, children, playing, shouting, they even bump me but their 3 mothers just wouldn’t care. One mother saw how her child bothered me but she just stand there and watch not thinking of stopping her child or even saying sorry to me. I really wanna get the hell out of that line at that time. The next thing was, we share the same cable car with a family and their children. Men, my friend really got irritated and couldn’t wait to get out because her eardrums are about to bleed because of the children shouting. Well, as usual, parents just don’t care. I mean come on, you are not the only people in the car. Or at least apologize or say sorry. I told this to my friend’s aunt and she told us that it is common manner for Cantonese not to consider other people. I heard that right.
Overall, my trip was good. I really appreciate the kindness and hospitality I experienced in our hosts’ house the Din family. It was a real worthwhile New Year vacation get away. I will forever remember this memory and if I have a chance, I will come back to this country. I love it here seriously. My friend is also satisfied with this trip and looking forward to come back.