December 11, 2016

Quarterlife & Travel Notes for Hongkong & Macau

Brown skinned, curly haired, small girl with a big backpack and bulky sandals - that's me! And with very pretty eyes too no? ^_^  hey this is my blog! and it's my late birthday post, haha!

High rise buildings, huge designer brand billboards, bright lights, stylish people with fair skin and chinky eyes! (-_-)  that's my first close up look of Hongkong. One look, and it seems right for me to feel different and out of place, but there is none of that anymore.

Like the flow of water, uninterrupted, I walk a path that is mine alone. I am not an outsider nor a visitor. These roads, at this exact moment, are present only for me. I am expected :)

Photo is actually in Macau (bec I cant find HK street photo from my album)

A. Accommodation

I read a lot of negative reviews about Chungking Mansion being dodgy and "unsafe" so I was concerned. But upon reaching the place,  it wasn't scary at all. People were bothered of the Indian men hustling around the neighborhood - I actually found them rather lively and amusing - a place for people watching! Perhaps I am used to such places as it resembled Manila - where people hustle like that daily. You just smile and say no firmly to them if you aren't interested and they will move on to their next sale - you can even ask them for directions as they get around and are mostly street smart. If any, what bothered me about Chungking Mansion is their shower heaters - it is damn hard to set.

But if you'd like to do a bit of staycation, do not stay here coz it would feel suffocating. Only stay here if you know that it's just a place to sleep, and if you're okay to say "oh well I don't care, will just sleep and go have fun outside later"

Tip: Bring universal adapter just in case the hostel has no adapter - HK sockets are for round plugs and not the flat ones we have in PH.

 B. Getting Around

Since I was on a DIY trip, I bought an Octopus card [150 HKD + 100 HKD reload], which is a reloadable card that you can use to pay in trains, buses, and even convenience stores. I also bought  a local sim card to subscribe to internet [80 HKD / 5days]

With an Octopus card and internet connection, almost all places in Hongkong is easy to reach - even for first time visitors who do not speak the language. You can buy both Octopus card and local simcard in the airport and have the staff subscribe you to unlimited internet - although most places have free and reliable wifi anyway.


- Check online for mobile apps that can help you get around - for example in HK, there is MTR app, or OpenRice for restos, or Google Translate, etc.
- Buses are numbered so just ask which bus goes to your stop or near it. Bus to and from airport/TST is A21

C. Itinerary

1. Lion Rock Peak [Free]

This is not the lion rock formation, but it looks like a lion head to me, dont you think so?

I followed this blog: for directions from MTR to jumpoff, and then I just asked around for the way back from Lion Rock. The trail is a mix of concrete or paved stairway, hence it can be strenuous for the knees.

The view throughout the trail is spectacular, it paints you a picture of a highly urbanized city in the center of the mountains.

Lion Rock Peak

The whole trek from MTR and back took me around 4 hours. Along the way, I bumped into several nice people - One man walked with me to the correct jump off because I apparently passed by it and missed it. A girl gave me a candy on the way up. A couple passed by me and cheered me on - they said "Fighting!" Awwiee how cute no <3 Hahaha! A family who overheard me asking for direction drew a map for me. An old lady actually chased me to tell me I was going the wrong way. She honestly scared me at first because she seemed really mad, and I couldn't figure why as we were only talking in sign language. Eventually, my heart felt really warm because of these people's concern for a stranger like I am.

What a happy day indeed :)

2. Tian Tan Buddha / Po Lin Monastery / Ngong Ping Village [Free]

The 360 cable car to Ngong Ping was on scheduled maintenance that day so I took Bus 23 to Ngong Ping instead. Tian Tan Buddha, Po Lin Monastery, and Ngong Ping Village are all in one vicinity. Tian Tan Buddha is a giant Buddha statue that sits atop a mountain in Ngong Ping. It was created by the monks of Po Lin monastery in 1990. It is my favorite place in HK/Macau!

Tian Tan Buddha from a distance

The moment I saw the Buddha, I became still. I was so mesmerized by its beauty that I fell silent the whole time. I did not dare move or talk because I might end up distracting myself. It was such a spiritual moment - as if my soul was smiling. I was calm, yet I could feel tremendous happiness for no reason. My heart was really happy. I am really happy.

Ngong Ping Village - closing already
Po Lin Monastery

3. Symphony of  Lights every 8pm as seen from Victoria Harbour [Free]

Symphony of Lights is a 13 minute lights and sound show making use of laser beams with the high rise buildings and the sky as its canvass. The city's skyscraper is really impressive!

After Symphony of Lights - HK Skyscraper

Tip: Get there early so you get a good spot to take photos.

4. Temple Street Night Market [Free]

This night market felt stuffy for me. The place sure is vibrant, with lots of street food and merchandise, but it felt expensive for a street market. IDK it was probably me converting everything to PHP in my head.

Tip: If there are no prices in the restaurant's menu (especially for the spicy chili crab), you may have leeway to haggle. But the taste of the crab wasn't even that special and it costed my friend and I almost 300HKD just for crab and rice.

5. Around Tsim Sha Tsui [Mostly Free]

There are lots of places you can visit around TST: Avenue of Stars, Kowloon Park, Science Museum, Art Museum, History Museum, and different malls, boutiques, and even convenience stores. I absolutely enjoyed HK Museum of History and Science Museum - very interactive and interestingly laid out!

Tip: All museums are free entrance on Wednesdays.

Mural at Avenue of Stars

6. Around Central and Hongkong Island [Free]

A friend wouldn't have it that I don't get to ride a tram during my visit so she took us to Hongkong Island and Central (the city's Business district) to ride a tram (ding ding!). It is like a hybrid of double decker bus and train. It's fascinating! Tram is slow and quite old, and the windows are open so it is a relaxing ride for me.

She also brought us to hole-in-wall restaurants with definitely tastier food than the ones I tried prior. These restos do not have translation though so she had to do all the ordering for us - thanks, Fanny! Yoda best!

Missed you, Fanny!!! 

Got to try boiled isaw (pork intestines - see the orange ones below.) It was surprisingly good - even if it was just boiled! Guess I really am a die hard isaw fan, but grilled and fried are still kings! Mehehe.

Isaw and Roast Duck

Afterwards, we dropped by the observatory wheel, and International Commerce Center - the tallest building in HK. Then we took a ferry back to TST.

Hongkong Observatory Wheel

International Commerce Center (ICC)

7. Macau [Mostly Free, main cost is the ferry ride]

Macau is just a ferry away from Hongkong. Some places of interest are the casinos, Senado Square, St. Paul Ruins, Monte Fortress, and A-Ma Temple. This is for Macau Peninsular. There is also Inner Macau where Macau Tower is.

St. Paul Ruins

Grand Lisboa

Since it was raining during my visit, I enjoyed playing in the casinos more than the sights outdoors. I didn't get how the slot machines worked, but it was fun because somehow we won. Yey!


- You can buy cheaper ferry tickets in agencies - the one inside the mall (Ming Sing Tours) beside Turbo Jet official ticket store is legit. Got mine at 300 HKD round trip
- Have exact change for buses. Taxis are somewhat cheap too.
- There are free shuttle service to the casinos, but not really back to the airport as you have to sign up for a membership card (at least for Grand Lisboa)

8. Others

If I had more time and if the weather permitted, I would have tried Disneyland, Victoria Peak, Sai Kung Volcanic Rock Region, and Maclehose Trail too - oh well #ReasonsToGoBack!

D. General Travel Notes

- It is better to exchange PHP to HKD here in Manila than in HK. And if you are already in HK, better exchange in the city forex stores than in airport.

- Paying with your BPI credit card only has 1.75% charge, and conversion rate is dependent on VISA/Mastercard forex rate on date of purchase. That is cheap! But do not forget to tell the store to charge you in their local currency instead of converting to PHP.

- Water is expensive and is not free in restaurants. One 800 mL water from 7-11 costed me around P200.

- Food cost is a little more than double compared with PH prices. My average Mcdo Meal in HK costed around P300+

- Almost all attractions are free, my expenses are mostly transportation, food, and accommodation.

- For pasalubong or souvenir, imported chocolates and biscuits are cheaper than local delicacies.

- My total spending for 5 days 4 nights is around 13k, no airfare. I could have done 10k if I had not bought dollars in HK airport.

- You can return your MTR card to get back the deposit of 50 HKD and also the remaining value. I have almost 100 HKD left but since I had no time to drop by the MTR counter and return my Octopus card, goodbye 100 dollars T.T

- Look at this map for places of interest for my HK and Macau trip:

Quarterlife, and I no longer feel restless :)

There is no more differentiation - there is only  peace and the feeling of being at home wherever I go. At last after 25 years, I finally come into terms with myself. I have become comfortable with my own  skin. Congratulations, Arlet! And obviously, it is a happy birthday for me. Thank you, universe!



I've been looking for a salted lemon candy like the one in the photo below, but can't find it. Aww.

Thanks to the ate who gave me this candy while on the Lion Rock Trail :)