Monday, October 26, 2009

My Short Trip to Hong-Kong and Macau

My little journey started 2 weeks back (I mean 2 weeks from the time I wrote this). Destination, Hong Kong then Macau. It was 5 days trips and believe me when I said it’s a real short holiday. Hong Kong and Macau have got lots of interesting place to visit, unfortunately due to time constrains, I missed many of those interesting place.

I went for the trips with mom and sis. We ruled out tour package in the early stage as we wanted some adventure. We tried all means of transportation, from bus, train to cab. Because we didn’t join tour package, we need to ask around for direction to get around. Now I’m proud to say that I survived Hong Kong and Macau.

My holiday started from Singapore – Changi Airport Terminal 1. We booked the flight one and a half months before hand so got a pretty reasonable fare. It took the plane 3½ hours before it finally touched down HK airport at 2000hrs. Our first destination there is… Surprise, surprise ---- our hotel which my sis booked way back from Jakarta. The hotel, L’Hotel Nina Convention Center in New Territory District. We walked from the arrival hall to the bus interchange to catch a ride to our hotel. As was said previously I did (I mean it when I said I did, NOT we did) asked a lot to get to the right direction. From the arrival hall to bus interchange which is only about 15minutes walking distance, I asked 3-4 people and stopped 3 or 4 times to check on the map to see if we are on the right track. Lost is the last thing on Earth I wanted to happen then.

Alas bus stop is on sight. Our next operation is finding buses that go through our hotel. After sometimes we found our bus then we hopped in. We sat in the bus for one full hour inside the bus before we stopped at Wan Tung Street (If I’m not mistaken), the closest to the hotel. Talking about the street, it was crowded with people around with stalls that sell everything from food to dress.

As it was already late and we still haven’t had anything filling our stomach, we went to the nearest guess what, McD. Why McD? Well, mom and sis have their own preference about food. They are not a big fan of any food other than Indonesian food. That’s not very exciting fact for me because it means I don’t get to try the local food there.

In McD I came to realize that not many in HK speak fluent English compared to people in Singapore. In HK people usually speaks dialect – Cantonese. How do I know? I’ve got to repeat my order many times before they got my orders right. I’ll skip how we ate the food and stuff.

With stuffed stomach, we rode the cab to hotel. Actually the hotel is very close to the McD we went for our dinner earlier, but ignorance really costs money. We didn’t know it was that close, so we took cab and paid for our ignorance which cost us HKD18 for the fare from McD to hotel and another HKD10 for failure of putting on safety belt (that’s my mom and sis, I did put that thing on in case you are wondering). As for the HKD10, I believe it’s more of a way the driver wanted to con us for additional HKD 10, not because of our ignorance.

Done with the cab, we now reached the hotel. Usual procedure - checking in, then accompanied by a bell boy to our room. It was a large and nice room with two single bed. The bed is kind of big for single bed, it can fit 2 persons. We got a very nice view from our room with a large window. We got a bathtub in our room too. However, it was pretty cheap for the room we got. It costs only HKD 314 a night. And because it was already late, we decided to call it a day and start our exploration the next day.

View from our hotel room

Before leaving the airport I managed to get copies of brochures about HK. Well, anyway there comes second day; both my sis and I woke up at 0700hrs. It’s definitely early, perhaps too early for my normal wake up time. Soon after we woke up we started reading on the brochures and the book I got from library in Singapore about exploring HK before making our itinerary for the second day.

Short discussion took place then we decided our next stop, Lantau Island and Victoria Park and perhaps Avenue of star to experience the Symphony of Light and Ladies Market at MangKok, if and only if we still have time.

We knocked off around 0900hrs leaving the hotel and heading to the MTR (which is the train, can’t remember what it stands for). We rode the MTR from the closest station to our hotel all the way to Tung Chung station as was recommended by the book and brochures. Lantau Island was connected with Tung Chung station by cable car, so that’s what we were taking – cable car. The ride from the station to Lantau Island was about 20 minutes, but we got panoramic view throughout the ride between the station and the Island.
Inside the train -- very similar to train in Singapore

Cable car to Lantau Island

Now that we have reached Lantau Island safe and sound, our first stop for the day would be Ngong Ping Village, a village full of cultural theme. Among the attractions in this village are: walking with Buddha, Monkey’s tale theater and Ngong Ping Tea House. Unfortunately time is the main constraint here. We didn’t get to visit some of the attractions here such as Walking with Buddha and monkey’s tale. Nonetheless, we did explore the village, shop around and of course took some shots (which is a must).

Next stop in Lantau Island was Tian Tan Buddha (or Giant Buddha). A 34meters statue of Buddha made of Bronze. The statue was completed in 1993 with cost estimated to be around $68millions. The statue was located near Po Lin monastery and symbolizes the harmonious relationship between men and nature, people and religion. Here we’ve got to climb the stair to get close to the giant statue and it was REALLY draining my energy, but it’s worth the climb.

Giant Buddha

Our final stop in this island was Po Lin monastery which is of course close to the giant statue. Nothing very much that we did here, as usual taking pictures and did some exploration around. Then we had our vegetarian lunch here before ending our visit in the monastery and headed back to Tung Chung station by cable car.

Now back at Tung Chung station, we visited Citygate which is somewhat close. We are so glad with what they’ve got there. Yes, you’re right. We found many outlets selling branded goods. Devil inside of me whisper to me to shop and I was so helpless that I followed that voice and shop around.

Done with shopping we continued our journey to Victoria Peak where we took MTR to reach central then continue on foot for another 20 minutes to reach Peak Tram Station. From Peak Tram Station we took Peak Tram ride all the way up to reach the Peak. We visitted Peak Tower and Sky Terrace which located at the Peak where we could have a spectacular view of central Hong Kong, Victoria Harbor and the surrounding island from the top.

Victoria Peak is also known as Mount Austin, which is located at center west of Hong Kong Island. With altitude of 552m, it is the highest mountain on the island proper. The actual summit of Victoria Peak is occupied by a radio telecommunications facility and is closed to the public. However, the surrounding area of public parks and high-value residential land is the area that is normally meant by the name The Peak.
View from The Peak

We then visited Madame Tussauds house of Wax (which is located at Peak Tower) where we took some pictures with celebrity and sportsmen, which is made of wax of course as the name suggest. Madame Tussauds Hong Kong is part of the renowned chain of wax museums founded by Marie Tussaud of France It is the first and one of the only two permanent Madame Tussauds museums in Asia. The Hong Kong branch houses nearly 100 wax figures of internationally-known personalities, with Asian figures taking up more than a third of the total, of which sixteen were Hongkies. The wax figures are featured in a range of themed settings such as Hong Kong Glamour, Music Icons, Historical and National Heroes, The Champions and World Premiere.
Me with the Beatles

We explored the Peak until 1900 hrs and experience a spectacular view of sunset from the Peak. After the experiencing the sunset from the Peak, we’re all set for our dinner. As I said earlier, mom and sis are not the biggest fan of local food, so for the second time in Hong Kong we had our McD dinner. Well, this is not so fun part of the trip.

After our McD dinner at the Peak we rode a cab to the Avenue of Stars to watch Symphony of Light which is performed daily at 2000hrs. We didn’t know that it was quire a distance from the Peak to Avenue of Stars, consequently the cab fare is expensive too. We did manage to reach and still have some buffer time before the symphony of lights began. So we walked alonng the Avenue of Stars to check out some celebrities hand print till 2000hrs where the Symphony of Lights began.

The Avenue of Stars modelled on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, is located along the Victoria Harbour waterfront in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong. It honours celebrities of the Hong Kong film industry. The promenade commands a stunning panoramic view across Victoria Harbour. At night it is a popular viewing place for the Symphony of Lights display. It is a good place to go to see the glamourous stars of HK.

A Symphony of Lights is a synchronised building exterior decorative light and laser multimedia display, featuring 44 buildings on both sides of the Victoria Harbour of Hong Kong accompanied by symphonic music. The technology was developed by Australian firm Laservision and cost approximately HKD44 million. It has attracted over 4 million visitors and locals so far.Guinness World Records has named A Symphony of Lights the world's largest permanent light and sound show.

Special pyrotechnic fireworks will be added to the show on the rooftop of participating buildings on both sides of the habour or stages off at the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront on special events or holidays, example like Chinese New Year and Christmas.

The Show comprises five major themes, taking spectators on a unique journey celebrating the energy, spirit and diversity of Hong Kong:

The first scene "Awakening" begins with flashes of laser lights that give life to a nucleus of light-energy which gradually illuminates participating buildings using an array of dancing lights and rainbow colour. This scene symbolises the genesis and powerful growth of Hong Kong.

The second scene "Energy" is represented by the display of rising colour patterns and the sweeping of the lasers and searchlights energetically across the night sky, signifying the vibrant energy of Hong Kong.

In the third scene "Heritage", traditional lucky red and gold colours are displayed across buildings on both sides of the Harbour, complemented by the introduction of music using Chinese musical instruments, symbolising Hong Kong's colourful heritage and rich cultural traditions.

The fourth scene "Partnership" features a display of laser beams and sweeping searchlights scanning across the Harbour, representing an illuminated connection with the opposite side. Beams reach out to symbolically connect the two sides of the Harbour into one greater and unified partnership.

The finale "Celebration" brings out a powerful rhythmic display of swirling, kaleidoscopic patterns of lights and beams dancing lively across the Harbour. The exciting final scene signifies the celebration of the close partnership between the two sides of the Harbour and represents an even brighter future for Asia's world city - Hong Kong.

Symphony of Lights - cannot get a better picture :(

The performance lasted for approx. 30 minutes . We then continue our trips to Ladies market at Mongkok. We almost got lost when we walked from the MTR to the market, fortunately we brought HK map along so we could navigate ourselves there. We check on almost each stall at the market, from tee shirt to bag, real to imitation. After some shopping at the market, we decided to call it a day and headed back to our hotel.

Day 3 started with our visit toDisneyland. Hong Kong Disneyland is the first theme park inside the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort and is owned and managed by the Hong Kong International Theme Parks, an incorporated company jointly owned by The Walt Disney Company and the Government of Hong Kong. We visited almost all everything they could offer in Disneyland except for the festival of Lion King where we were late for the show.
Us in front of Disney Land

Us posing with Minnie

The park consists of four themed lands similar to other Disneyland parks: Main Street, U.S.A., Fantasyland, Adventureland and Tomorrowland, however, there is as yet no Frontierland. The theme park's cast members use English and Chinese, including Cantonese and Mandarin dialects, to communicate verbally. Guide Maps are printed in both Traditional and Simplified characters, Japanese, and in English to helps the visitor to go around.

Nothing very much we did today other than exploring the entire Disneyland Hong Kong. We started and ended our day at Disneyland (realizing childhood dreams I’d say). Then we went back to our hotel.

Our last day at Hong Kong was spent in visitting Wetland Hong Kong. We chose Wetland as our next destination because sis insisted that she wanted to visit this place as she loves conservation of nature very much. Hong Kong Wetland Park is a conservation, education and tourism facility, located at the northern part of Tin Shui Wai, in Yuen Long. The park is best known for its slogan seen on MTR stations, "Unroll the Hong Kong diverse green temptations".

The Hong Kong Wetland Park comprises a 10,000 square meter large visitor centre, Wetland Interactive World, and a 60-hectare Wetland Reserve. The Wetland Interactive World has themed exhibition galleries, a theatre, a souvenir shop, an indoor play area (swamp adventure) and a resource centre. The themed exhibition galleries with gross floor area ranging from 250 meter square to 1,200 meter square showcase the importance of wetland on biodiversity, civilization and conservation. Visitors can learn more about the native flora and fauna of Hong Kong through the animals and models displayed in the Living Wetland Gallery, such as False gharial, mouse deer and green turtle.


The Wetland Reserve consists of re-created habitats designed for water fowls and other wildlife. The Wetland Discovery Centre, located in the Wetland Reserve, provides visitors more hands-on experience on local wetlands. Other facilities include Stream Walk, Succession Walk, Mangrove Boardwalk and three Bird Hides situated next to the fish pond, mudflat and riverside, leading visitors to venture habitats of wildlife such as Fiddler Crab, Mudskipper and the rare Black-faced Spoonbill.

We explored this place from indoor to outdoor conservation until 1500hrs. We then went back to hotel to pick up our luggage. We already checked-out earlier but we left the luggage in the hotel so that we could move around much easier than carrying luggage around the wetland…. Not funny. After picking up our luggage, we are ready to head for our next destination – Macau. We were taking MTR from the hotel to the ferry terminal, but while walking to MTR station we were caught by the rain, pouring rain. Another not so fun part about this trip .

We finally reached MTR station and we’re heading towards ferry terminal. Are you still with me? Great. At ferry terminal we approached the nearest ticketing counter to get 3 tickets to Macau. There are 2 ferry terminals at Macau, and one of it is at Taipa. So when the lady in the counter asked which terminal we would like to go to, my initial reaction was “Taipa, please”. Turned out, Taipa ferry terminal was just a temporary terminal.

Taipa is the smaller of the two islands in Macau Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (formerly the Portuguese colony of Macau). It is 2.5 kilometres from Macau Peninsula and east of the Lesser Hengqin Island of Zhuhai, Guangdong Province. Macau International Airport, University of Macau, Macau Jockey Club and Macau Stadium are situated in Taipa, and three bridges connect the island to Macau Peninsula.

We waited 20minutes before we could finally find a cab. It was quite out there, different from buzy Macau to hotel in Macau. I felt sea sick inside the ferry on the way to Taipa. It was my first sea sick (don’t wish to experience the second though). I think the cause was the turbulance caused by the strong current that day.

We’re at Macau now and it’s already late afternoon. Without any delay we went to our hotel, Taipa Best Western Hotel. After checking in, we went directly to our room and we were shocked with what we found. The room is ultra small and there’re only 2 beds but we paid for 3 people price. So I called the receptionist to ask for an extra bed. Extra bed was delivered to us after 30 minutes.

We were not so fortunate this time. In Hong Kong we got a great view outside the hotel window and the room was somehow luxurious. This time round the wheel of luck has turned. We got a small room and not so nice view. I prefer room in Hong Kong, if you asked me.

After some rest in the room we continue our visit to City of Dream hotel and casino. City of dreams is a building with 4 towers – Hard rock hotel, Crown Towers, Grand Hyatt Macau and 47 storeys luxurious apartment. It also offers mega-casino, shopping complex, bars and higher end retail lots (The Boulevard) and theater (The Buble).

We explored the hotel and the Boulevard. We then went to watch Dragon Treasure, a multimedia and light performance at the Buble (admission is free). As usual, we get couple of great photos here and City of Dreams. Since it’s already late, we went back to our hotel.

Hard Rock Casino in City of Dream

New day is here. After some brainstorming session with sis, we decided to visit St Pul ruins and places around it. We took cab all of the time here in Macau to get around. So, that’s what we did to reach St. Paul ruins.

The Ruins of St. Paul's refer to the façade of what was originally the Cathedral of St. Paul, a 17th century Portuguese cathedral in Macau dedicated to Saint Paul the Apostle. In 2005, the Ruins of St. Paul were officially enlisted as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Historic Centre of Macau.

St Paul Ruins

Built from 1582 to 1602 by the Jesuits, the cathedral was the largest Catholic church in Asia at the time, and the royalty of Europe vied with each other to bestow upon the cathedral the best gifts. With the decline in importance of Macau, which was overtaken as the main port for the Pearl River Delta by Hong Kong, the cathedral's fortunes similarly ebbed, and it was destroyed by a fire during a typhoon in 1835. The Fortaleza do Monte overlooks the ruin.

The ruins now consist of the southern stone façade — intricately carved between 1620 and 1627 by Japanese Christians in exile from their homeland and local craftsmen under the direction of Italian Jesuit Carlo Spinola — and the crypts of the Jesuits who established and maintained the Cathedral. The façade sits on a small hill, with 66 stone steps leading up to it. The carvings include Jesuit images with Oriental themes, such as a woman stepping on a seven-headed hydra, described by Chinese characters as ' Holy Mother tramples the heads of the dragon'. A few of the other carvings are the founders of the Jesuit Order, the conquest of Death by Jesus, and at the very top, a dove with wings outstretched.

After we’re done with the ruins of St Paul, we visited Macau Museum and Monte Fort. From there we bought some famous pastry along the walkway. Then we continue walking till we reached our next destination, Lisboa Hotel and Casino.

Lisboa Hotel and Casino is a very luxurious hotel with gold as its theme. We went in to the hotel to have a look around before proceeding to the casino. We took some photos outside the casino (because we are not allowed to take it inside the casino). After extensive exploration of Lisboa, we took a cab back to Venetian Macau Hotel which located just opposite of City of Dreams Hotel and Casino.

It’s amazing what you can find in this hotel. The hotel has a Venice like interior design. Visitor can even experience Gondola ride inside. It really feels like as though I was in Venice. We of course took the Gondola ride, it’s one of a kind experience. During the ride the man sang us some songs in Spannish. Although I couldn’t understand a word of the song, the feeling is great. Nothing less.

Gondola Ride

With Venetian Macau Hotel we ended our short trip in Hong Kong and Macau. Our last stop in Macau is actually our own hotel. We took a cab back to our hotel to pack up and checked out before catching another cab to go to ferry terminal. From the terminal we got ourselves 3 ferry tickets directly to Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA).

The time we reached HKIA and our flight time is very close, so we didn’t really waited too long for our flight. In HKIA we got refund of Value Added Tax (VAT) of HKD 120 each person. Inside HKIA we did our final shopping in Hong Kong before waiting to board the plane.

Announcement that passengers of our flight can board the plane was made. All of us boarded the plane which was around 2000hrs. The flight will took 4 hours before it landed in Singapore Changi Airport.

Holiday was fun. Hong Kong was fun. I love the place. Perhaps someday I’ll visit it again.

--- Thanks to HD and his Sister that gave me tips and tricks for going around HK, WW that help me edited this post. Several information was taken from the Internet.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Congratulation My Dear Cousin

Congratulation for finding the love that is true,
Congratulation for the marriage of you two,
And congratulation for the moment she’s saying: “I do”.

As a cousin and a friend I do feel glad,
That you found someone who can share your good and bad,
Someone who can be there when you’re happy or upset.

For life is a journey, we need someone to be there,
We need someone, for whom we can share,
We need someone to show us how much they care.

And I’m glad you have already found,
Someone who can make you world goes round,
Someone who can share your ups and down.

I’m honored to witness this very blessed morning,
And the moment you two exchange vows and ring,
So congratulation again for the wedding.

-- created by ww
-- dedicated to Lindsay's Cousin