There And Back Again

Hong Kong.

The mere mention of this place has your mind wandering on food and shopping.  I am very much into the earlier, not so on the later.  So when my sister asked me if I was available on the 18th of March for a trip, I said “Game!”

We thought of going to Vietnam or Kuala Lumpur, places we haven’t been to yet.  For some reason, we decided to go to the former British colony- it was cheaper and we didn’t have to go to tourist spots since we’ve been there a couple of times already.  So, our main objective for the trip? Relaxation.  Of course, we had secondary objectives like food-tripping and some shopping, in case we had free time.

Dates were set so we browsed for hotels.  We wanted one that was near an MTR station, the fastest way to get around.  The last time we were in Hong Kong, we discovered the Airport Express Train Ticket.  It offers one round-trip ticket to/from the airport, complimentary Airport Express shuttle bus and unlimited MTR rides for three days.  Just perfect.

After looking at numerous accommodations, we opted for Butterfly on Prat, a boutique hotel at Tsim Sha Tsui.  After making reservations, I checked the Hong Kong Tourist site for any events or suggested attractions.  One caught my attention: a 25-min cable car ride to Ngong Ping at Lantau Island.  This is where the famous Tian Tan Buddha and the Po Lin Monastery are.  It was something different so I added it on our itinerary.  When I went to Ngong Ping’s site, the very first advisory I saw was that the cable car would be under maintenance on the 17th to the 20th of March.  What??? Talk about bad timing.  If it was any consolation, the Peak Tram was also under maintenance on those days.  Hmm…  Anyway, there is a bus service to Ngong Ping so it wasn’t a problem.

So, last Tuesday, we took the first flight out.  We arrived in Hong Kong at 10:50am.  We went through Immigrations, where they gave us a small piece of paper where our arrival stamp was printed on, not on our passport.  We had to be careful because it might get lost due to its size- about 2.5″ x 2″.  Is this something new? Or just for certain nationalities? I’d hate to think it was targeting certain countries only.

We boarded the train after we got our Airport Express ticket and went down at Kowloon station.  We then took the K4 shuttle bus and got off in front of Park Hotel at Cameron Road.  Then we walked one block to Prat Avenue.  And we were at Butterfly.  🙂

The reception area was small but it was nice.  Just a slight problem: when we booked the room, I misunderstood double-bed as 2 beds.  It was just 1 double bed.  They asked if we wanted to upgrade but we declined.  We were on a budget so it was fine.  Since they had a strict check-in time policy of 2pm, we left our bags and went around.

The location of the hotel was really good because it was surrounded by a number of local eateries and shops.  Our trip objectives’ finally met! Hahaha… Before we went back to the hotel, we bought our staple supplies like water, juice and some bread.

When we got to the room, it wasn’t bad.  It was actually cute.

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The double bed… we fitted, somehow. 🙂

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Butterflies!

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The short hallway- cabinet, fridge and microwave on the left, bathroom on the right.

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The bathroom with its Japanese-style sliding door.

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Our entertainment area.

No HBO on TV but free wifi- yes!  The room also has a microwave oven.  Not bad for a budget hotel.

After resting a bit, we were off to the Night Market at Temple St.  We arrived a bit early so some of the stalls were just setting up.  We walked two blocks then decided to go back to the hotel.  We were going to Ngong Ping tomorrow, where we would do a lot of walking, so we wanted to get some rest.  We had dinner at A Plus Kitchen, one of the eateries near the hotel.  All of their servings were good for two so we were really full.  After a cup of coffee and a couple of hours later, we were asleep.

The next day, we left for Ngong Ping at 9:30am.  We got to Tung Chung and definitely saw that the cable car was not operational (sigh).  We got on the no. 23 bus and after about 45 mins of twists and turns going around the mountain, we got to our destination.  Nessie was a bit nauseous.  Everybody went toward the Buddha and monastery while we went the opposite way, toward the Ngong Ping village.  Anti-social? No, just anti-crowd.

The village had souvenir shops and some eateries.  As souvenir shops go at tourist spots, items were expensive.  We ended having lunch at Subway- hehehe, so American! We walked to the Buddha and monastery after.  I loved the walk leading to these two places because it had the statues of the twelve divine generals, also representing the twelve signs of the Chinese Zodiac, guarding it.

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Part of the walk/generals, was more interested with the mountain 🙂

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Nessie with General… something, Year of the Sheep.

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General Sandira, Year of the Horse- my guardian.

When we got to Tian Tan Buddha, we looked up and saw stairs… all the way to him.  We had to pay to go up so we opted not to.  We took pictures instead.

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The long way up.

When we got to the middle part of the park (the monastery is at the opposite side), we stopped for a selfie. 🙂

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Cheese!

The Po Lin monastery houses the three statues of the Buddha, representing his past, present and future lives.  Check http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Po_Lin_Monastery for more information.  There is an incense and offertory area in front of the monastery for devotees.

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Mandarin oranges at the entrance.

After the monastery, we dropped by the shops and looked at souvenir items.  Nessie bought a small hand fan.  Go figure.

The ride back to Tung Chung was shorter, I think, and we napped on the way.  We went malling at the City Gate Outlets before we headed home.  We rested for awhile then headed to the Ladies Market, which turned out to be the continuation of the Night Market at Temple St.  Hmm… Had dinner at another eatery near the hotel- satisfying!

On our (supposedly) last day, we went shopping at Ikea.  Got a few stuff to use for baking and can’t wait to try them out.

The next day, we learned that our flight home was full.  We were listed on the last flight out.  As a non-revenue passenger, am not bookable so would have to stand by.  We checked and had two options: take an earlier flight or get the first flight out the next day.  The earlier flight was sort of appealing but we might not be able to make it to the airport as we only found out just two hours before the flight. So we opted to stay another day but have to transfer to a hotel near the airport since we had an early flight the next day.  We booked at the Regal Airport Hotel.

After checking out, we used our last MTR airport trip ticket.  You have the option to keep the ticket/card as a souvenir or give it back for a HK$ 50 refund.  We gave it back, hehehe.

The hotel was a 15-min walk from Terminal 2.  After checking in and going to the room, we felt so tired.  The big room had a welcoming sight: 2 queen-sized beds! As usual, there was no HBO on TV.  No free wifi, either- you’d have to go down to the lobby or cafe to access the Internet.  You can pay for access in your room but good for only one mobile device.  Oh, well…

We went through the shops at the airport, not looking like passengers.  We had a late lunch/early dinner at one of the Chinese eateries.  For no apparent reason, I felt like Tom Hanks in “The Terminal,” hehehe.  When we got back, Nessie was asleep by 9:00pm and I stayed up watching “Mission: Impossible,” which I have seen numerous times.  No, it is not because of Tom Cruise.

We were up by 3:00am, was at the check-in counter by 5:45am.  We were on our way home to Manila by 7:55am.  Looking back at this trip, we did meet our secondary objectives.  The main one? Elusive in a place like Hong Kong.

🙂

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