Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Hong Kong 2018

I had lots of time to spare this October as I have just left my previous employment, and while waiting for my new job to start in November, I literally have nothing to do. And all my friends are not free to meet me cos they are working LOL. So I thought I should really use this time to travel again one more time this year, cos if I were to start my new job in November, I probably won't be able to travel for a good 6 months considering the probation period. Hence, for the month of October, I decided to make a trip to Hong Kong (and also take Open Water Diver Course, which will be in my next blog post).

I have been thinking of travelling to Hong Kong for the longest time cos everyone has been there and said so many things about this city. All I knew before going there was it is going to be very similar to Singapore, price and road signs and buildings etc. And that dim sum there is so much better than the ones I have tried so far in Singapore. Well, we shall see. Fatefully, my mom was super free in October cos she doesn't have much work schedule assigned to her. I contemplated a little on whether I should travel with my mom, or ask around some of my friends first, but I thought Hong Kong was quite a nice and easy country to travel with my mom. Plus, the tickets and accommodation was alright for me to give a treat to her. Also, no friends would have been free to travel with me anyway cos it was so last minute (I literally booked the trip a week before we flew). An alternative was to just travel to Melbourne to look for Pan (my best friend who is studying there at the moment) but the tickets were so expensive. Considering I only had 4 consecutive days to spare, it wasn't worth. I thought Hong Kong is perfect, since it's a small city and 4 days seem like a comfortable amount of time to spend there.

Maybe I should start with a little background information on my mom. HAHA. My mom and I are relatively similar in terms of our temperament - which in other words, it is not good. We are quite hot tempered and gets angry rather easily. We don't really agree on many things, and the tone of voice we use to speak can be rather rude, but unintentional. It causes lots of trouble cos sometimes people might be offended and we are left clueless on what's going on. Also, my mom and I have never traveled alone together before. We have traveled together as a family back to our hometown, but it's a little different because once we reach our kampung we don't necessarily hang out 24/7 for consecutive days you see. So I was rather nervous for this trip cos I wasn't really sure what to expect. 

Also, my mom has traveled overseas (excluding our hometown) I think about 5 times or less. And she doesn't do much research on the country, and really doesn't know much about what's there to see or do. In other words, I'm the one planning the itinerary and she just follow as planned. Our itinerary was rather straightforward: Big Buddha, Ocean Park, Macau and Tsim Sha Tsui/Mong Kok for the 4 days we will be in Hong Kong. Easy peasy. I would do other things like hiking the Dragon's Back, but it's definitely not my mom's cup of tea. Since it is a break for me, I do not want a cramped itinerary as well. So the trip in general is quite chill.

Okay, so going right on to the trip. We booked a to and fro flight + hotel accommodation via Expedia for $444 each, which I thought was quite a steal. I'm not sure how much Hong Kong tickets usually cost, but I thought the amount I paid for was rather cheap. We took a morning flight and lands in Hong Kong at around 10am, and checked into our hotel (Dorsett Mongkok) at around 12pm or so. First off, it is incredibly easy to navigate in Hong Kong and their shuttle services are amazing. AND, I am an absolute direction idiot and completely rely on my trusty boyfriend for directions most of the time, so for me to say it's easy means it's really easy lah. Our journey from the airport to the hotel was super smooth. And to top it all with a cherry on top, the director of our hotel is a Singaporean! How awesome. He is super welcoming, and recommends us all the places to eat near the hotel. So we placed our luggage in the room, and head straight out for dim sum for lunch - our first meal in Hong Kong.

The food was really good, and we were so hungry we totally forgot to take any photos. But this dim sum place is called Ming Yuan located at New Lucky Plaza, nearby to Dorsett Mongkok Hotel. It is rather challenging to order in Hong Kong cos I could barely read the traditional chinese characters. And one useful thing my mom has to offer is her rather subpar Cantonese proficiency, but it was really better than nothing hahaha. The difference between the dim sum in Singapore and Hong Kong is probably the portion and the quality of ingredients, which also amounts to a higher price. We ordered about 7 dishes (waaaay too much for the two of us who have quite a small appetite), and it costed about $56? We couldn't finish the food, but we thought it was rather pricey.

We walked back to our hotel to freshen up and get ready to head out for the afternoon.

We decided to visit the Big Buddha, cos I thought it's something moms like LOL. I booked the Nyong Ping 360 cable car ride via Klook for almost half the original price because we visited after 2:30pm. The cable car closes at 6pm, and honestly we didn't spend a lot of time there as well. I'll say 2 hours max? Cos we really walked around and climbed the Buddha stairs and also took lots of photos. But I really will recommend everyone to go after 2:30pm cos you save about $20 on the cable car tickets. It is super worth!

The cable car is a 45 minutes ride, and my mom and I got the entire cable car to ourselves cos there was barely a queue. We also got the crystal floor cabin, which means the floor is completely transparent and we got to see everything underneath. It was really cool! My mom really loved it and she thought it's a really good deal considering the duration of the ride.

Upon alighting the cable car, you enter a city out of nowhere with free roaming cows. So naturally, there's a strong stench. My mom and I spent a lot of time wondering how they got the cows there. LOL and I forced my mom to take a photo with the cow. HAHA, she's quite sporting!!! I told her to touch the cow for a photo and she did, but then when I went back to look at the photo and zoomed in on her hand...I realized she completely had me fooled. She didn't touch the cow at all...

Yes, I made my mom climb 268 steps to the top to take nice photos of myself. She almost wanted to give up halfway, then we saw a really old 80-90 years old lady struggling to walk down the stairs, and I looked over at my mom. HAHAHA she laughed and just continued climbing. So we made it to the top! The view was really nice, except I thought that there will be more to see of the Buddha yknow. But we couldn't get to the very top cos it was cordoned off, what a bummer.

Being the first day of the trip, I thought maybe I'll be really glad to have my mom on this trip cos she takes great photos. But as the trip was nearing to the end, I finally concluded that this is just a lucky shot. HAHA

I really liked how the Po Lin Monastery looked! Also cos I just finished watching Yanxi Palace before I went on this trip, and this place looks like I'm about to bump into Fu Heng any moment? HAHAHAH

After the very little bit of walking we did, my mom was really tired so we sat down and had some beancurd at one of the eating area. I wanted to explore the Po Lin Monastery more, since I'm already there I might as well see everything there is. But my mom has a different mentality I guess. It feels like she just wanna take photo with the highlight which is the Big Buddha, then turn around and leave LOL. 

We couldn't take any photos in the Po Lin Monastery, not sure why but there were some tourists snapping some shots anyway. I didn't, I don't know, maybe cos it did felt like quite a sacred place and I don't wanna be disrespectful. The rooms inside was quite interesting, and there is definitely a heavy atmosphere inside. Some rooms we weren't allowed to enter, one of them was the room filled with thousands (I think) of golden Buddha. How cool is that! The room just basically looks like it's filled with gold.

I take great shots, I know. So nearing around 5pm, we made our way back to the cable car to leave. We were quite tired from the early morning flight, but my mom didn't want to go back to the hotel yet. So we decided to check out Tsim Sha Tsui for some food and more sightseeing. 

I googled around for some famous place to eat at, and Tsui Wah came up. So we headed there, which was only a few minutes walk away from the train station. The milk tea there is really famous, so that was what we had and I thought it tasted really good but my mom wasn't really impressed. She claimed that it's really easy to make. HAHA. We ordered the chicken wings and the chilli crispy noodle. The chicken wings were nice, but the noodles hmm, not really. I wasn't a fan of the sauce, which was really sweet and spicy. The prawns were nice and juicy, but I wish the sauce was different. It really wasn't a kind of taste I am used to or enjoy eating. Anyway, we ordered the dishes after googling for recommendations. But I thought Tsui Wah was really...quite underwhelming despite all the rave about it! Granted, we didn't try that much off the menu, but still nope for us. Sorry.

Following which, we walked around Tsim Sha Tsui looking for the Promenade, Victoria Harbor and the Avenue of Stars, and also the Bruce Lee Statue. Of which, we only found the Harbor. Later, we found out that the Avenue of Stars was under construction. What a pity. My mom was rather upset about it cos we walked around for so long, and nothing on the internet stated that it is closed for construction. 

Following which, I think we headed back to our hotel at around 9-10pm. Before that, we walked around our hotel to get some food to snack on in the room. Their 7-11 is nothing much, but they have fruitips popsicle! But it really tasted like any other grape popsicle. We like to buy their breads and pastries at the bakeries. Mostly egg tarts, mango puddings and polo buns.

The next morning, we woke up and got ready pretty quick. We walked around our area to search for a place to eat. We settled for some very basic Hong Kong breakfast. I also noticed a bad thing about travelling with my mom is that she has such a small appetite, we don't get to try a lot of food when we go out cos we don't order much. For instance, this breakfast, she only ate a polo bun with milk tea. And I ordered an entire breakfast set, which includes the condensed milk bread, milk tea and a tomato soup noodle (that I couldn't finish). 

We also noticed from walking around Hong Kong that at first glance, it does resemble Singapore. Like, the road signs, tall buildings, high ways etc. But the buildings are mostly in such poor condition and lacking maintenance. Also, there are very minor things that they failed to put into consideration, for instance installing their air-conditioners above the walking pavement, which results in water constantly dripping on the people walking along the pavement outside the street shops. Also, not sure if you noticed but in Singapore if you're driving on the highway, you won't notice the part of the HDB where people hang their clothes cos it's usually strategically placed so that it is out of plain sight. But for Hong Kong, it is literally out in the open. While you're travelling on the train or along the highway and you glance out the window, you'll literally see all the dirty laundry being hung out. You'll think it's a small thing that is quite dismissable, but I think it makes a huge impact. You may refer below for two photos for comparison between shops under buildings in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Image result for hong kong laundry
Photo from iStock
Shops under buildings in Hong Kong
Related image
Photo from
Shops under buildings in Singapore 
I hope it is clearer for you to see now that I have attached photos for comparison. 

Also, comparing the people in Hong Kong and Singapore, I think the people in Hong Kong are not as friendly. It's sad to say, but the service in Hong Kong was not great. When we couldn't understand the menu, or asked for recommendations, they were often very annoyed to entertain us. Yes, there were a few nice ones that were kind enough to lend help when we asked for directions. But from my 4 days spent there, in general, this is the conclusion I came up with. My mom was the one that pointed this out actually, and I agreed.

Ok so back to the trip. After breakfast, we made our way to Ocean Park where we planned to spend the entire day there. But we ran through the entire area quite quickly because my mom is scared to take the rides. We only took one that sent us spinning, and my mom was just laughing throughout. There were also freaking lots of China people there. We really don't mind, except they are super loud like constantly yelling, comes in a huge ass crowd of people like you won't be able to cut through them until like 50 people has passed, and they spit everywhere ugh.

We spent a lot of time looking at the animals and the aquarium. We really liked it. It was also our first time seeing walruses. I never thought they are so cute! Yes, they are huge and super fat, but they are also very attention seeking so they kept coming to the surface to play and get our attention. It was really fun to watch the both of them play.

We took the train to get across the mountain to the other side, which was mostly rides that my mom doesn't take so I have no choice but to skip them. We also barely queued maybe cos we were early and it was a weekday. Then we took the cable car back down from the other side of the mountain to the entrance. I will suggest immediately going to the other side of the mountain when you arrive, cos when we got off the cable car, the queue was insane. And we saw that many of the people has to squeeze together in one car, which idk about you but I would have felt quite terrified and claustrophobic. 

We got off the cable car and arrived in Old Hong Kong in Ocean Park. I really like the setting of this place. I can totally imagine some street fights happening between two food stall owners and stuff. HAHA. We sat down and ate some food, and walked around a little before deciding to leave Ocean Park. I think this place is interesting because it incorporates amusement park and zoo, which makes the money super well spent. And also caters a lot to people of all age groups. Like despite not taking any rides, we still spent several hours there. My mom and I spent about 4 hours there before deciding to leave. 

We weren't really sure where to go cos we initially intended to spend the entire day in Ocean Park. So we decided to head back to Tsim Sha Tsui cos there were some Michelin star street food I wanted to try.

First off, we gotta try Cheung Hing Kee. They looked like xiao long bao, but the bottom are fried, and it is a lot bigger in size. The inside also has a lot more meat and soup. It is served really really hot so we had to eat super slowly and drink the soup carefully. I loved it! I really wanted to try the truffle flavor one too, but we had more food to try and I didn't wanna be too full.

Image result for jenny bakery butter cookies
Photo from 
While walking along the streets to our next destination, we also came across a lot of stores selling famous snacks in Hong Kong. One of my all time favorite is Jenny Bakery's butter cookies. It is soooo good. I first got to try it when my ex-colleague bought it to the office and I think I might have accidentally finished half the box HAHAHA.

Moving on, we walked over to Mammy's Pancakes! We got the one with porkfloss and it is so good. I know this seem like quite a simple street food, and Singapore and Malaysia sells it too (but I've never tried). And my taste buds aren't super sensitive and magical, but I thought it tasted good and my mom who was initially super skeptical (she didn't want to try it cos it is so common) couldn't stop eating it. Hahaha, we were really full when we bought it but I unknowingly finished eating the entire thing. Opps, it is quite addictive.

Following which, it was still pretty early so we decided to check out Mong Kok for a little bit. We haven't had the chance to shop since we got to Hong Kong, and it was definitely something we were both really looking forward to. However, I think the Ladies' Market in Mong Kok was rather disappointing? It was only a short stretch, spanning 3 stretches of road and all they sell is imitation designer bags, jades, basic electronics, I love HK tshirts, etc. There was no trendy wear or things you would expect to see in Taiwan Night Market or Bangkok Night Markets. I managed to buy 3 phone casings,

We continued walking around the area for a short while before heading back to our hotel via our hotel shuttle bus at Langham Place cos we have a really early day to Macau the following day.

I booked the earliest ferry to Macau, and the second latest ferry back to Hong Kong. Our hotel is awesome cos it provides shuttle services to the China Ferry Terminal, where we were going to take the ferry. It also has shuttle services to and fro Ladies' Market and other tourist attractions. Besides that, if we just wish to take a normal train, it is only about 5 minutes' walk away from Olympic Station. 

We reached the China Ferry Terminal really early in the morning. I got a simple MacDonald's burger for breakfast. Their menu resembles Singapore's a lot. Except Hong Kong serves milk tea everywhere LOL. I don't think they serve tea without milk. I don't know, I've never tried ordering that. 

Upon arriving at Macau Ouer Harbor, we took a free shuttle bus to Lisboa. We started walking around trying to find out way to Senado Square, but god damn the view was incredible. I super love how the floor look! It looks very old school, but also gives a kind of vintage trendy vibe. I'm not sure how to describe it haha. But anyway, the view was really nice. 

After walking for really long cos we got super lost and had to ask a lot of people for directions, we finally arrived at Senado Square. The place is gorgeous! I mean, the photos explain it. We continued walking further into the streets to explore the area. There were a lot of places selling the famous Koi Kei egg tarts and also their famous snacks.

As we have spent several days before walking a lot, our legs and backs were aching really bad. So we looked for a place selling pork chop bun to sit down. Here, my mum and I could barely finish these two buns. LOL. And I think the pork chop buns are overrated. It tasted so...normal. Honestly, nothing impressive.

My face most of the time cos my mom keeps asking me to do stupid poses.

After eating, we continued walking further to explore the Ruins of St. Paul. It looks stunning, and the details on this piece of front wall was really nice from up close!

After taking enough photos, we walked towards the right side of the wall towards the museum. We thought the museum will be more chill and it will be air conditioned too. So we can take our time to slowly walk around there.

My mom gave up after awhile, and sat down to rest. But I explored the entire museum. I thought it was quite worth the price, cos we really got to see the history of Macau, and how it became the link between the East and the West. I really enjoyed it, plus the entrance fee was quite cheap if I remember correctly. Maybe less than $10.

We walked out of the area and chanced upon another tourist attraction - The Cathedral Church of Macau. It looked nice and we wanted to go in, but it stated that there was a mass going on. I figured my mom and I will probably be super clueless on what to do, so we didn't go in in the end.

By then, we were honestly quite bored and tired of sightseeing. So my mom and I decided to take a cab to Sands Casino to gamble. I know there are other casinos that have way lower bets, but my mom wanted to go to a famous one. And I think we had quite a lot of money to spare since shopping in Hong Kong didn't turn out quite as planned. My mom doesn't gamble much, so she wasn't really sure how to do it, but she tries. She likes to bet on the lowest possibility with the biggest win, which to me was a complete waste of money. Most tables have minimum bets of about $50 btw. I only changed $200, and played big small tables, and managed to win about $800 whoop whoop. I think we also lost track of the amount we were betting, hence were quite fearless. My mom lost all the money she changed hahaha.

We ended up gambling for about 4 hours, and decided to take an early ferry back to Hong Kong. I found out on the internet that I could take ferries earlier than the time I booked, but not later. So thankfully I booked the second latest flight, so basically we can return to Hong Kong almost anytime.

We did our own things in the hotel and ended up sleeping quite late. We actually had a lot of sleep during this trip, except for the first day right after our flight. For this night, we had to check out the next day at 1pm latest, and our flight was at 9pm at night. 

To start off our last day in Hong Kong, we had dim sum again at New Lucky Plaza, but at a different restaurant. Service was terrible as usual, what's new. Our last day in Hong Kong is rather chill, because we have already finished exploring Tsim Sha Tsui and Mong Kok earlier than expected. So I decided to bring my mom to another shopping area (according to the internet) - Causeway Bay. Hmm, but that area was rather disappointing too. It resembles Orchard a lot, and it's mostly high end shopping. I'm not sure what or where people actually shop in Hong Kong, but I didn't end up buying anything cos I wasn't very willing to spend too much on clothings. I ended up in my most trusted store - Uniqlo, and spent a bomb there but it was so worth it. I think I spent $180 for 11 clothings. It was quite good for me.

Then we wandered off to Jardine's Crescent which was a street market outside a wet market. Smell was not pleasant, but that is to be expected due to the location. I managed to buy 4 pairs of really cute ear rings, but the price was not cheap at all. I think I spent $60 in total for the ear rings LOL. Hong Kong shopping is disappointing! But then again, I didn't really know what to expect  I guess.

The last day was quite easy, we walked around till we got a little tired cos our legs were so sore from walking for the past few days. So we headed back to our hotel. I stocked up a lot of mango pudding before we left for the airport. We had a lot of time to spare so we ended up looking for food at the airport, and shopping around.

A lot of times in Hong Kong, I wish Sam was with me because we got lost a lot more times than normal especially in Macau because we didn't have phone service, and my mom and I were both bad with directions. I mean, maybe I was the bad one and because she doesn't really take charge, we ended up getting lost. During the entire trip, my mom and I did not quarrel! What a surprise hahaha, but I think there were times we got on each others' nerves, but I guess we just kept quiet and let the moment pass. My mom was clueless about a lot of things which doesn't help when I need advice, and she is especially paranoid (which is good to be careful, but can be annoying when it is a bit over the top and unnecessary). She also doesn't have much opinions on anything, like what to eat and stuff, so I have to decide a lot of things. And she gets tired from walking quite easily, which is understandable, but which makes us miss out on quite a lot of good famous food and attractions.

But all in all, I'm quite glad I went on this trip with my mom. It was a chance to get to know her better. And to be honest, it wasn't difficult spending time with her for so many days. I discovered some of my mom's weird little quirks like not switching off all the lights in the hotel when she sleep, and also got to experience how terrible her snores were when she sleeps. She gets ready super fast which is such a joy. And she needs to pee as much as I do. HAHAH, Sam complains about it all the time. My mom also always have dry and wet tissues in her bag, which is amazing. And she always have some kind of snack or candy in her purse too. It was very easy settling money with her, cos it's either she pays or I pay. But she pays most of the time, cos she just happen to pull her wallet out faster. But since I covered most of the prebooked expenses, I guess maybe she's just trying to pay it back to me in her own way, which I definitely felt.

This 4 day trip took me longer to blog about than I expected, but that's all from me now! I can't wait to blog about my next entry which will be on my diving trip in Tioman!!! Stay tuned. :)

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