“One venti hot mocha and one warm dark chocolate macadamia cookie please”, I excitedly ordered from Starbucks at Level 5 Hongkong International Airport Arrival Area. Wowoo and I decided to meet here.
Wowoo’s flight departed the Philippines an hour after my flight from Hangzhou. That meant one hour waiting time for me so as soon as I got my coffee and cookie, I’ve chosen the most comfortable seat, put down my backpack and got the Lonely Planet book from my hand carry bag. But instead of reading, I just ogled on the crowd, different races, diverse fashion, passing by in front of me. I started to wonder, what is a Filipino in other races eye?
I remembered the sight in the Hongkong immigration. There were 3 service counters, one for Hongkong residents, one for visitors where I lined in and one for foreign domestic helpers – it’s depressing to see the latter. There were like 30-50 Filipinas in line waiting for their turn. It’s shameful yet I cannot blame these people from doing that. That may be is the only way to support their families. While different pictures and thoughts lingered in my mind, I got a phone call from Wowoo and in minutes he came into a view walking towards me. I haven’t seen him for 2 weeks. I missed him and we’re blessed to see each other again and have a vacation in Hongkong.
With our maps on and Octopus cards for the MTR, we’re ready to face Hongkong’s surprises.
We stayed at the Astronaut Hotel. It’s a small hotel along Nathan Road in Mongkok. We roamed around these streets on our first night. Digital shops, cosmetics shops and food stalls were situated left and right. Lights were everywhere. We walked around Mongkok till our feet hurt.
The next day was spent visiting Chi Lin Nunnery and Wong Tai Sin temples before going to Lantau Island. Before suffocation on incense smokes, we rode the MTR again to Tung Chung station. We rode the cable car to go to the giant Buddha. From the 20-30 minutes cable car ride you’ll see greeneries from Lantau Island. That tourist spot was busy that weekend. There were groups of tourist mostly foreigners taking pictures. Almost all the reviews about Hongkong suggest visiting this giant Buddha. Well, yeah, there’s a giant Buddha on top of the hill but I guess, that just didn’t look amazing for me. What I suggest though, is to drop by the Citigate Mall in Tung Chung Lantau, where you’ll find all the outlet stores: Columbia, Roxy, Quicksilver, Mango, Giordano, Esprit etc. The food court also offers various food choices.
We visited the Avenue of Stars and Symphony of lights. Hongkong Island was really bright that night, and I guess all night. The people were really entertained by the flashing of lights from the skyscrapers.
Peak Tram was on the itinerary on the second day, before going to Macau. This spot I can suggest to the backpackers. The tram took 30minutes ride to the peak. The 45 degrees incline, the push and the gravity were exciting. The view of the skyscrapers looked like Lego toys and it’s good to see that there were still trees in Hongkong.
You might be wondering, why there’s no Disneyland and Ocean Park on my list when in fact those are the top tourist spots in Hongkong. I’ll give you 3 reasons 1: Theme parks are just not our thing, 2: we’re backpackers not tourists, 3. We prefer wandering and discovering new things, new places. That’s why I love this quote:
“The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.” – G. K. Chesterton
Despite of realizing that Hongkong is not a place to be for my boyfriend and I, here are some tips that can help you wander around this concrete jungle:
- Upon arrival at the Hongkong airport, calculate what you might spend using the MTR. There are service counters at the airport where you can buy octopus card. That’s less of a hassle than buying a pass every time you’ll use the MTR. If in case you needed more credits, you can get a top up at any MTR station. This website is also helpful to get the fares, maps, travel time, etc. -> http://www.mtr.com.hk/eng/homepage/cust_index.html
- You can get maps and magazines from the airport.
- Make sure you have your hepatitis A and B vaccine, just in case you want to try their street foods.
- Don’t miss out the Hollywood Road in Central which I will be blogging about after this post. =)