First Time Abroad, First Time in HK | DM Travels

Hello dear readers! I am excited to share with you today DM’s (David and Maya ♥) adventure to Hong Kong last March 13-15, 2017. (It’s been almost two months now, I know. Apologies for taking this long.) The trip was intended for our anniversary (which was last February 25), but had the said travel dates instead because they’re the nearest dates with cheap flights that I could find.

Before I begin, I would like to note first that this is not a travel guide, but merely a documentation of our trip.

Happy reading! 🙂

BEFORE THE TRIP

D and I were both first timers not only in visiting HK, but also in travelling outside PH. Which meant there were a lot we didn’t know. So we searched online. We read about HK, its transport system, food price range, the March weather and the like. We also asked insights from people who we knew had already gone to HK or even just abroad.

Of course, most (if not all) planning of trips start with buying the plane tickets. We had ours bought around the time of Pres. Duterte’s inauguration last year (I remember this because while everyone in the office was busy watching his speech on TV, I was busy finalizing our ticket haha). That was June. That gave us nine months of saving and planning before the trip. Our accommodation was booked two months before the trip. Disneyland tickets were purchased a week before the trip. And the rest of the transactions were done in HK.

The trip was a short one. With us arriving at night in HK, we knew there wouldn’t be much time to sight-see on the first day. Which meant we only had two days to go around. At first, the plan was Disneyland on the second day and half-day tour on the third. Then we decided against the tour and just made our own itinerary — we both decided to go to places where we really wanted to go or do the activities we really wanted to do.

With our itinerary set, we had our budget allocated (train costs, meal allowance, etc.), screenshots of our would-be whereabouts saved in my phone (lots of walking were involved in this trip too, you know), tickets and vouchers ready, luggage packed, and our money exchanged from PHP to HKD. Then we’re set to go!

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Screenshots of maps of our would-be whereabouts in HK. 😉

DAY 01

I don’t know if it’s due to excitement or we just had nothing else to do that we arrived at the airport early. As in four hours early. Check-in counters for our flight were even closed yet. Haha. So, for the first hour, we had our lunch. Then we went to the whole check-in process — travel tax payment, check-in and Immigration — before finally heading off to Departure Area.

Adventure starts now. 😁💑🛫🇭🇰 #HKbound #postanniversarytrip #HK2017 #DMtravels

A post shared by Maya Chan (@cemaroch) on

And then we were flying!

Window seat. MNL to HKG. 😁✈️☁️🌥️ #HKbound #HK2017 #DMtravels

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We arrived in HK at around 6:30PM. Right then and there, I declared Hong Kong International Airport to be the best airport ever. Of course, it’s the first one I’ve been to outside PH, so I’m unsure if I can still say that after I visit some other country in the future. Anyway, what fascinated me the most was the train — the train inside the airport. We don’t see that in the PH, you know.

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Door entrance to the train. Photo taken at Hong Kong International Airport.

Also, in PH, you don’t see train doors like the one you see above. In PH, it’s you on the platform and the train tracks right in front of you — no (door) barriers or something.

Anyway, at the airport, we bought our Octopus cards (like the Beep card here in PH). Via HK’s MTR, we rode our way to Tsim Sha Tsui, where our accommodation was located. During the commute, we had to transfer lines twice. It should’ve been inconvenient because commuting with travel bags was usually difficult. But it wasn’t. In fact, the whole MTR system was very tourist-friendly. Directions were everywhere, precise and, of course, with English translations. Even if we didn’t do our research, we wouldn’t have gotten lost. Also, they didn’t do any baggage check.

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D studying the maps. Photo taken at Tsim Sha Tsui station.

Our accommodation was called Maple Leaf Guesthouse. It was located at Chung King Mansions where, apparently, many more guesthouses were located. The place was quite creepy because of the people trying to sell you things downstairs. Good thing we were able to read the reviews on TripAdvisor, so D and I had this expected before we got there. It was also because of the reviews that we easily found our way up to the guesthouse. Believe me, it was like a maze with obstacles down there.

We met one of the owners — the wife — right in the elevator on our way up. She was friendly, very accommodating and spoke good English. She charged us an extra 80 HKD, though. She said she had our room “upgraded” to deluxe. I didn’t want to believe her, but D seemed to be okay with it. So, okay.

Our room was small, as expected. But it was clean, which was an essential thing for me. The place was secure — we had to go through two doors before we could get inside our room. Upside? There was free unlimited drinking water. They even put up drinking glasses in our room. Downside? Just one electrical outlet (actually, there were two or three, but only one fitted our plugs). D and I had to take turns in charging our phones and the power banks that we brought with us. Overall, we were satisfied with our room. We wouldn’t be there for most of the day, anyway.

After everything was settled, we made our way to Temple Street Night Market. Going there, we walked the whole stretch of Kowloon Park plus a few more blocks — a long walk, to say the least. One of the things I noticed was how there were Rolex stores in almost every block. If it wasn’t in our side of the street, it was in the other. Also, did I mention that HK has opposite traffic directions (I’m not sure if this is the correct term) compared with ours in PH? If in PH cars always have to “keep right”, in HK cars have to “keep left”. A couple of times while walking, I wondered why the cars were moving in the opposite direction. Then I would remember why. And then later, I’d wonder again. Confusing, I know. Haha.

It was a chilly night out. At 9PM, many locals and tourists were still out. Oh, and there were lots of Filipinos too. You could hear people speaking in Tagalog or Bisaya (because those were the only dialects that I could speak, those were the only ones I recognized) almost everywhere. I almost thought I was still in PH. Almost.

The night market was also packed with tourists. Food stalls stood side by side. By the looks of it, the main menu of the place was sea foods. D wanted to try the street foods, so we chose a spot between a stall that served meals and another that served street foods.

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Food stalls at Temple Street Night Market. On the left was the stall that served street foods, while on the right was the one that served meals.

First, we tried the street foods. D went to order while I waited at our table to contemplate which meal we could try. When he came back, he had in his hands more than enough food for the two of us! 😮 I kept forgetting how a hungry D always buys more food than he could ever eat. Haha. Anyway, the food was weird. Weird because I didn’t know what I was eating, though it was one heck of an experience. It was neither delicious nor unpleasant to my taste. Well, maybe except for the one that tasted like fish balls with an extra taste that made it different from the ones we have in PH.

Because D bought so much, there wasn’t enough space in our tummies anymore for a full meal. So I ordered a small viand. Funny how the snack became the meal and the meal became the snack. We had shrimps wrapped in potato strings. I love shrimps. It’s my favorite food of all. But this was the first time I heard and saw such dish. It didn’t taste great to me, though it was still okay. At least when I ate this, I knew what I was eating. 😉

DAY 02

Guess what we had for breakfast? Tada!

cof
Breakfast at McDonald’s. 🙂

I’ve heard stories from others about when travelling and unsure of where to eat — particularly for breakfast — go to McDonald’s. That’s what D and I did. Still, even McDonald’s had to differ its menu relative to its location. And I like theirs better. 🙂 I never thought I’d see sopas in a McDonald’s menu, but there it was. They even served milk instead of creamer for the coffee (which I usually prefer).

We initially planned to visit Kowloon Park for a while after breakfast since it was so near. We had to skip it because, unfortunately, it rained. 😦 But that only took us a moment of sadness because our next destination was… Hong Kong Disneyland! 😀

Again, we took the MTR, where we had to change lines twice. At the last part of the journey, lo and behold, was the cutest train I’ve ever seen. The Disneyland Resort Line was, well, very Disney-looking. There were small statues of Disney characters inside train. The windows and the handrails were Mickey-shaped. And the ambiance inside was grand (for lack of better word).

For the pictures below, navigate through the picture to read its caption.

And here we are! 😀

The most awaited part of the trip! Hello, Disneyland! 😀

I can’t go into details about the things we did in Disneyland, since it would take too long. Instead, I’ll just show you. 🙂

Things I Love About Disneyland:

Castles

Castles. ❤️🏰👑 #Disneyland #HK2017 #DMtravels

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Disney Characters

We didn’t get chances to take pictures with Mickey and Minnie and the Disney princesses, however, due to the long lines.

Themed Attractions

Music

Janitors of #Disneyland. Tap to hear them play! 😁😍🥁🎵🎶 #takemebacktoHK #HK2017

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Magic

Most magical night ever. 😍✨🇭🇰 #Disneyland #HK2017 #DMtravels

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Souvenirs

Oh, it was a fun day. And very cold too. “Para kang nag-shorts sa Baguio,” was how D described the cold. Though I checked the forecast early that day, I didn’t know it’d get that cold. The shivers were all worth it, though. 🙂 Brrr… It also rained. Twice. The first rain was our first welcome upon arrival in Disneyland. Hahahuhu. The second was right before the fireworks.

On the way back, we decided to head directly to the guesthouse. We were supposed to go to Temple Street Night Market again to eat dinner, but the cold got the better of us. We just bought food along the way instead.

DAY 03

Our last day in HK turned out to be an even colder one.

We checked out first before heading to our first destination. That’s when we met the husband owner of the guesthouse. He didn’t speak much English, but he was as accommodating as his wife. He even allowed us to leave our luggage until we return later in the afternoon to get them. We didn’t eat breakfast, but just rode the MTR and went straight to Central District.

Okay, I knew we had our maps (the screenshots), but we forgot to consider how one station had many exits. And, apparently, we made the wrong exit at Central station. So there we were, strolling around Central District, getting ourselves lost. Haha. Good thing our destination was a tourist spot. We found street signs that directed us there, although we still had a few wrong turns along the way.

We arrived at Peak Tram Lower Terminus just in time for the Peak Tram’s arrival. Because we had our Octopus cards, we didn’t have to line up to buy tickets for the tram — we just tapped our cards and went in. We rode the tram, and then we were on our way to The Peak! It was a steep way up. It felt like we were riding up in a roller coaster and anticipating for the the extreme slide down. It was also getting colder and colder. Brrr…

Left photo below was first posted in Wait in Line | Weekly Photo Challenge.

We arrived at The Peak quite early. Most of the stores inside were still closed. Even the Sky Terrace 428 was still closed. When we did get up to Sky Terrace 428, I wanted to get back inside because, woah, it was freezing cold! Plus, it was also windy. Brrr… The view was wonderful, though. ❤ We could see the whole of Hong Kong. We also spotted a bird just gliding through the wind. The bird looked powerful. It was a majestic sight. 🙂

After that, we had our brunch in one of the restaurants inside: Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Not only was the food great, but also the view — our table was situated beside the beautiful view of Hong Kong. 🙂 From there, we got another sight of the bird that we saw from Sky Terrace 428.

Due to the cold weather, I craved for something hot. We hung out at Pacific Coffee for a while and had coffee. Then we bought some pasalubong at a small bazaar. After, we rode the Peak Tram backwards (literally — imagine riding a roller backwards) down and got ourselves lost in Central District again. Haha.

When we arrived at Tsim Sha Tsui, we didn’t immediately return to the guesthouse. Instead, we took our extra time to stroll around Kowloon Park. Finally! Haha. Different statues stood in different areas of the park. There were people jogging, while some were just strolling around, like us. There was also a group of kids on what seemed to be a field trip. They were engaged in an activity of molding clay into a pieces of art. And, I tell you, they were pretty creative. 🙂

Photo below was first posted in Earth | Weekly Photo Challenge.

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The Pool Pavilion by David Watkins. Photo taken at Kowloon Park, Hong Kong.

Then again, the cold got the better of us. We went back to the guesthouse, got our luggage, then rode the MTR to the airport. Like the first day, we were early. Like the first day, because we were so early and our flight’s check-in counters were still closed, we had to eat our lunch first before heading to the Departure Area. And like the first day, I was mesmerized by the airport. This time, it wasn’t about the train. The airport looked like a mall inside. I used to think that of NAIA 3 too. But this was like comparing the “mall-ness” of SM Masinag (I have to use this because this is close to where I live haha) to the “mall-ness” of SM Mall of Asia.

Anyway, we were back in PH at around 10PM and was already tucked in bed at past midnight (typical Manila traffic) — a little later for D since he lives farther.

Well, that’s it, dear readers! 😀 I hope you enjoyed reading. Writing these down still makes me want to return to HK. Got a little separation anxiety after the trip. Huhu.

Please watch out for more DM travels! 😀

via Photo Challenge: Wanderlust
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