Sunday, December 21, 2008

Part 2: Around Hong Kong Island

Day 2.

The next morning, I got on the 9.00am shuttle bus with the other Malaysians. Day 2 for me, will be spent in Hong Kong Island covering the whole of Central and Causeway Bay. It's all along the tram route. The tram is the easiest, cheapest and oldest form of transportation in HK, a standard 2HKD for all stops.

Places to go, Day 2.
- SoHo Mid-levels Escalator
- The Peak
- Hong Kong Central Library
- Victoria Park
- Happy Valley Jockey Club

For the others, they dropped their initial plan to go Disneyland and joined me for half a day instead.

We started off at SoHo Mid-levels, where the longest escalator in the world sits. According to the map, we would eventually pass the Peak Tram Station (which we were headed to and only found to be untrue later on).

Hong Kong's notorious terrain.

Mahn and me.

The malay man I blogged about in Part 1.

Mahn bought some bananas for the kids and gave me one. A lady walked passed me and said, 'oh! you're peeling a banana in Peel Street' and started laughing. Okay, so that explains the picture.

Finding our way to the tram station with my little buddies.

Distinctive red cabbies.

The Peak Tram Station.

The Peak.

Hong Kong's skyline on quite a clear day.

Not long after, we went our seperate ways. The other Malaysians went to Stanley Street while for me, I went looking for food and found McDonalds, which turned out to be really cheap compared to other suffs in Hong Kong. Normal Chinese food say, Wan Tan Mee cost 24HKD (RM12), A set of Ebi Burger cost HKD16 (RM8).

Ebi Burger! Prawn filling inside.


Took my first tram to Causeway Bay.

Visited the library for a bit, fairly huge inside. I think maybe I have a soft spot for libraries. I like visiting them.

they offer free internet services. Finally, the intarnet.

Victoria park.

I spent some time at the park. The thing is, having a big park right at the side of a city is really nice. The air is so much better, it's less noisy, you see high school boys chasing girls and old people carrying their birds in cages, chipping away. Yet at the same time, you still feel well attached to the city. A get away from the rat race buzz. You know, toilet breaks are always nice.

Some how, this shot appeals to me.

Happy Valley Jockey Club! It's only 5.30pm + and is this dark already. Horse racing is the only legalised form of gambling in Hong Kong.

it's huge in there. Wednesday spells raceday!

I had my first Wan Tan Mee, went superbly well with the atmosphere.

This got to be the best place to blend into the local flavour. Some were shouting 'Pok Kai (no money) and some just face-palmed.

I was so chilled, I bought a pint of beer, soaked in the nice atmosphere, sat back and looked at the gamblers get all tensed up. Fantastic! I spent nearly 2 hours there.

I got back to the dorm, met some new dorm mates, shared more places worth visiting and that pretty much sums up Day 2. Oh, under the influence of my Malay friends on the first night, that sweet aroma of preservatives, I bought a packet of instant noodles which I only ate in Taiwan. How clever.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Part 1: Heading to The Territories

This excursion to Hong Kong and Taiwan has to one of the most exciting trips I've ever had yet. Going solo surely adds in the thrills. I've slept in the best hotels in Taiwan to benches in Hong Kong airport, seen the lives of other Chinese people around the world and tasted the best Wan Tan Mee in my entire life. I'll blog as detailed as possible.

Let me explain how I got started with this trip. My mum received a free return ticket to Taiwan from Hong Kong, inclusive of accommodation for 3 days and 2 nights. But being mum and always so selfless, she pulled me over one fine day and asked me if I wanted to go. She has been to Taiwan a couple of times.

Taiwan to me is always like an imitation, no.2 of Japan, from game shows, fashion, down right to the way they talk. That's probably why Taiwan doesn't appear in the top list of countries I want to visit. So perhaps the media hasn't been portraying Taiwan in it's true tone, and it's unfair to judge Taiwan that way. It's only right to go and see what's what.

But what really excites me, is Hong Kong and I've always wanted to visit Hong Kong. For sure, what makes Hong Kong stand out is its own cultural distinction and richness in flavour. Nowhere else on earth will you find the same uniqueness of Hong Kong. I got to say, when people say Hong Kong is only a shopping paradise and nothing more, either they've wasted their trip on buying things that are usually still more expensive or seriously haven't seen the other side of Hong Kong.

Preparations in brief.
Came out with a rough 11 days itinerary, with days to alternate. 6 days in Hong Kong and another 5 days in Taiwan. Joined the youth hostel membership and booked my hostel at Jockey Club, Mt. Davis Youth Hostel at HKD$100 (RM47) a night with the branch here in Malaysia. Considered really cheap in HK. Booked my Air Asia Flight from Kuala Lumpur to HK. Bought a guide book, filled my PSP with Google map, the whole of 30 Rock season 1 and a lot of songs. Brought some books along. I couldn't believe the amount of time spent online preparing for this trip. However, it was really worth the effort. I could have not done so much without those useful guides.

Day 1.

Left home at 7.30am to Larkin. Boarded a Konsortium bus which left at 8.00am. Watched Zack and Miri Makes a Porno (comedy) early in the morning. Wasn't fantastic, expected something big from Seth Rogen. Reached KL at 12.30pm. Took a Cab from Puduraya to KL Sentral (RM10). Took Skybus (direct journey to LCCT from KL Sentral).

Reached LCCT at 2.45pm. fully packed, people everywhere. Checked in, walked around. Flight is at 4.02pm. My Adidas deodorant spray got confiscated because it was in the hand carry bag. Talked to a Caucasian named Robert who lives in Hong Kong for more than 30 years. He was waiting for everyone to board so that he can sit at the aisle. So we continued talking. Not long after, we got paged! They actually bothered to page us, fantastic! We were the last two to board the plane. Phew!

Flight took off, ate Nasi Briyani, read the AirAsia magazine over and over again.

Touched down at Hong Kong International Airport at 7.50pm. 10 minutes ahead of schedule.

I'd to make my way to Sheung Wan MTR station before 10.30pm. That's the last shuttle bus to the hostel. Things were getting a little tense. Got out of the immigration at 8.20pm. Went out, sucked in my first breath in Hong Kong. Fantastic climate over there. Getting from the airport the Hong Kong Island takes around 50 minutes on bus, 27 mins on train (HKD$100)(RM47). Took bus A21 (HKD40)(RM18). The view was awesome! Passed by Tsing Ma bridge, fantastic looking bridge.

Tsing Ma Bridge.

I got down at Shun Tak Centre at around 9.15pm. Couldn't find the station, walked to the a bus terminus nearby. I approached the bus drivers, took out my guide book which has a Canton phrase list and tried to speak canton. Point at my map and asked 'ching mun, leedi day fong hai been do ah?'. They didn't understand I guess, they then took my map and discussed among themselves. Then one of them came forward and told me the directions in English.

Walked back from where I came from. Remember I was carrying a 11kg backpack. Not sure whether that's the spot. I sat down to drop the weight off my shoulders, it was 9.45pm. Went in to 7-11, got chased out by some asshole worker because I tried asking for directions. Finally, went to ask the security guard and got to the correct location. 9.55pm. Sat down, looked around and saw a man who looked like a malay, standing beside a little girl.

Such coincidence, that man is from Kuala Lumpur and he turns out to be the Vice President of Youth Hostel Association Malaysia. He just got back from Macau, first day in Hong Kong as well. But he didn't come alone, he came with another 10 orphan kids and some Mak Ciks. He said it's a reward for the kids for achieving certain grades and they chose to come to Hong Kong. That's really surprising.

Bus arrives at 10.25pm sharp. Waited for 5 minutes and off it went. I'm well on my way up the mountain and after 20 minutes, we arrived at the hostel. It was a tad cooler up there. Checked in, went in to the dorm, showered, met some new friends and knocked off. The malay kids were at the kitchen eating maggi mee. Walao! I starved myself to sleep that night.

That's the end of day 1 as well as Part 1.

More coming up next!