Here’s to share some details of my recent trip to Hongkong , just in case someone would need a good reference.
Promo fares are real sulit deals. Although Philippine Airlines got my and thousand other people’s ire for their problematic Real Deal promo last April, its Way to Go Promo in June 2009 was a successful recovery. Where before tickets can only be bought from the airline’s unreliable website for only a day, the Way to Go, as if an act of apology to disgruntled customers, allowed customers to purchase tickets from all of PAL’s distribution channels (web, travel agencies, ticketing offices) and lasted for three days.
Damage: US$ 151.40 or $50.46 per person (approximately Pesos: 2,422.50)
We were billeted at Park Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui, East Kowloon. From outside, the entrance to the hotel is just a wide two-door glass door that opens to a narrow hallway where one can find four elevator cars at the end. Up on the 4th floor is the busy reception area and a line of incoming guests. The check in process took us only a few minutes, thanks to the responsive and courteous hotel staff. After that a bell boy escorted us to our room on the 6th floor. No tip as the bell boy was gone before I can finish figuring out how much a respectable tip should cost me.
Our well-appointed three-bed room was a pleasant surprise. It has a wide window facing the C Road and the park beyond. There was ample space to move around. Same with the bathroom. When I turned on the TV set, a personalized welcome note was flashed on the screen. What I liked most, and this occured to me only after a day of walking around the city, was the pipe in soothing classical music that made us to soundly fall asleep at night. Downside: no complimentary drinking water and it did not mention anywhere either whether the tap water was potable.
Breakfast the next day was a feast of dimsum,congee, bread and pastries, noodles, yoghurt, fruits and juices and the usual bacon and eggs, sausages, cold cuts and cheeses. Brewed coffee was of course delightfully bottomless. Downside: As in most hotels, food does not vary from the first day to the last.
Damage: US$206 per person or around P3,296 per person per day. This includes the daily free breakfast, airport transfers both inbound and outbound and a half day city tour on board a tourist coach.
The city tour was very organized. Tour group operator was at our meeting area at the agreed time. There were 24 tourists on board the airconditioned bus, mostly family on vacation from countries like the USA, Philippines, India and Australia. Our tour guide was a Hongkong local, young yet authoritative but without being bossy or difficult. He was very articulate and seems to be perfectly matched with what he does.
Man Mo Temple
Hong Kong’s magnificent Man Mo Temple is among the oldest and most well-known temples in the territory. It was built in 1848, during the early years of British rule in Hong Kong. Though it’s been rebuilt a number of times, much of the original structure still remains.
The words Man Mo mean “civil” and “military”, and this temple, like many other Man Mo Temples located throughout China, is dedicated to two very different gods. Man Cheong is the God of Literature while the name Mo refers to Kwan Yu, the god of war or martial valor.
The Victoria Peak
Victoria Peak is the highest point of Hong Kong island where tourists can enjoy a bird’s-eye view of Hong Kong. The best and most enjoyable way to reach The Peak Tower is via the Peak Tram, one of Hong Kong’s oldest forms of transportation. This funicular railway first went into operation in 1888 and has since become a vital transportation link as well as a popular tourist attraction.
Aberdeen Fishing Village
A 20-minute boat ride on board a traditional sampan or chinese junk, this part of the tour is where the modern meets the ancient Hong Kong, where boat people lived on floating boathouses against a backdrop of skyscrapers. Our guide emphasized that the boat people may have survived the modernization of Hong Kong, but not until 6-10 years from now, as most of the young ones have decided to abandon their water-based past and has already opted for a life onshore.
Repulse Bay and Stanley Market were part of the tour but we have to miss these two wonderful sights for Hong Kong Disneyland. From our hotel in Kowloon Island, we passed through HK’s underground tunnel that connects Kowloon and Hong Kong Island for the half day tour. From Hong Kong Island, we were on our own to Lantau Island, for our Disneyland adventure. But the real adventure actually begun when we left the comforts of our tourist bus and embarked on a circuitous maze that was the Hong Kong Mass Railway Transit (MTR).
Thankfully, I remembered my map reading and orienteering course back in my Boy Scouts days making our commute to Disneyland a breeze. Credit also goes to kind strangers for helping us get out of the maze. For efficiency and ease of travel, I suggest that those visiting Hong Kong for more than two days must buy the Octopus card for the hassle-free MTR ride. Unused credits will be refunded anyway.
MTR Damage: HK$300 at HK$150 each (I should have availed of the senior citizen discount!), although I got a refund of more than HK$100 for the deposit and unused fare credits.
Disneyland Damage: Just a few HK$ for meals (relatively cheap meals at the Banquet, with interesting choices at that), drinks (ugh! expensive) and souvenir shopping (crass commercialism at its worst). Admission courtesy of a friend working for Disney. Great times!
Outside of the tour package, we went to the Avenue of the Stars to witness the Symphony of Lights and enjoy the colorful play of lights and sounds at the Hong Kong harbor. Haggling at the night markets of Kowloon and Temple Street was equally enjoyable. Street food and seafood meal along Temple Street should not be missed out. Burp.