Friday, April 15, 2016

Other Things About Hong Kong And Macau

Octopus Card

I took the picture in a rush before we returned them at the airport

Once you land on Hong Kong soil, this is the one thing that you should acquire. Seriously. You can use this card for MTR, bus, and ding-ding tram. You can also use it to buy food, and other things where the merchants provide the Octopus reader machine.

In Tung Chung, the apartments are owned by MTR, and the residents' data are inserted in the Octopus Card. Using the Octopus card, the residents are entitled for a free shuttle bus ride to MTR Tung Chung every morning and evening.

A card is priced at 150 HKD, with 100 HKD for credit and 50 HKD for deposit. You can keep it as a memento, but if you return the card at the airport, you get the deposit back (minus a 10 HKD fee) and use the money to do last minute shopping at HKIA's duty free.

iVenture Card

Aneen found information about this card via this link. Then she persuaded me to buy the card. I was a bit hesitant to buy online, so I asked her if we could buy the card upon arrival. If you intend to see as much tourism attraction in HK and Macau, buying this card is a wise decision, because you can save money and time (the card offers 'skip line' benefit). The skip line thing was great, because the queue could take hours!

We used this card to do Victoria Harbour watertour (with complimentary drink), see HK from Sky100 (with complimentary drink and cookies), observe HK's art during Soho Gallery Walking Tour, take the roundtrip of Peak Tram, visit Madame Tussaud's and Trick Eye Museum, hang out at Sky Terrace, take the roundtrip of Ngong Ping 360, have fun at Disneyland HK, climb up Macau Tower and a free meal package at Broadway Galaxy Macau. All for the price of 1,149 HKD.


Transportation
  •  HK
I love going around HK thanks to the easy transportation system.

  • Macau
While Macau has a more relaxed vibe (and I'm all for relaxation), transportation is one major factor that make me despises Macau. Here are why:
1. Macau has yet to have an urban railway network for commuters, so we rely mostly on buses (which probably come once every 30 minutes).
2. The buses go in circle, instead of going both ways


Let me take an example from the 18A bus route above: you're on Avenida D. Joao IV and want to go to Jardim M. Flora. You must go to Almeida Ribeiro-Ponte16, and then back to Perola Oriental Terminal, and then take another ride to Jardim M. Flora. It's wasting time, money and energy!

Another transportation option is the free shuttle buses that go from casinos to ferry terminal/airport. But the routes of such buses are not mapped out, so it would not be wise to use shuttle bus if you're in rush.
  • Ferry between HK and Macau
Aneen (again!) found information on Cotai  Water Jet's promotion via Facebook. By becoming a follower, you can apply for a discount on one ferry ride. You can check this link for more information. Be sure to check which ferry terminal you use for departure as HK and Macau has several ferry terminals.

Thank you Cotai Water Jet!

Photo at Tourism Sites
When you go to a tourism attraction and an officer offers to your picture with his DSLR camera, your first reaction must be: "Oh, but is it free?" The officer will smile and convince you that the photography service is free. The photographer will give you a coupon for the photo. But when you want to see the photo, the officer behind the printing machine will say that if you want to see it printed, you'll have to pay. And the pay is always more than 100 HKD.

We experienced this for the first time at Madame Tussaud's, where we were asked to pay 120 HKD per photo. We kindly declined and continued taking photos with our own camera. From then on, everytime an officer takes our photo, we just ignore him.

Food
I can't give any recommendation on local food because I don't eat much in Hong Kong. I brought cereal drink, biscuits and instant noodles, which I ate for breakfast. I often skipped lunch and only had light snacks for dinner. I was afraid that the food was not halal, while halal food was more expensive. I only ate out a few times, with twice of them were because my friend who resides in HK took me there.

Halal dimsum at Masjid Ammar's cafeteria, EK treated us there.

EK treated us to a seafood restaurant, yummy

In the end, because I was hungry I tried KFC HK's Okonomiyaki Crispy Chicken + mushroom black pepper rice + egg tarts. You just have to try all variants of egg tarts while in HK.


However, no egg tart can beat Lord Stow's egg tart in Macau. Let's hope that it will open a branch here in Jakarta any time soon.

Accommodation
  • HK
On the first night, we stayed at Sydney Hostel, Chungking Mansion. We forgot to take pictures of the room, but there are many on the internet. If you're a first time backpacker, I would not recommend this place as it can be very intimidating. Upon approaching the building, many people tried to sell us things: room, food, tour packages. I kept my face straight and it kinda worked. But Aneen was bombarded with offers.

The next day, we stayed with Indonesian migrant workers. There are around 150,000 Indonesian migrant workers in Hong Kong. Most of them live with their employers, but some rent a place with other migrant workers. Some others rent a place to provide a haven for fellow migrant workers who experience either sudden terminated contact or cannot stand their employers and run away.

I'm not exactly sure which category our accommodation falls into, which is why I'd like to keep it under the radar. We only pay 50 HKD/night/person. If you'd like stay at their place, just shoot me the question and reason for staying via email (Read the About section to find my email). They only take women for their guests.

We stayed at EK's apartment when we're back from Macau. EK's apartment was near the airport and it took only 15 minutes from the apartment to the airport. Thank you for your hospitality, EK.
  • Macau
We didn't exactly plan to spend a night in Macau, but since we had difficulty on the first day, we thought we should at least try to conquer Macau the next day. We contacted our migrant worker friend in HK and asked if they had a friend in Macau who could take us in for just one night. Long story short, we stayed with them that night. But we were surprised to see so many migrant workers at the place. 

One of them told us that her contract in HK was ended and she didn't want to make her parents worry if she came home. So she went to Macau (for a visa run, I suppose) and waited for her next contract to complete. Everyone was tense and spoke in a hushed tone. They were kind and even offered us dinner, but it was a relieve to leave the next day.

Hmm, is that all? I guess so. Well, see you on the next posts, then.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Disneyland Hong Kong

Before I began, let me emphasized that I've been wanting to visit Disneyland. So when Aneen persuaded me to buy the ticket to HK, I agreed under one condition: we should put Disneyland in the itinerary. It's a deal!

To reach Disneyland, you must go to MTR Sunny Bay and wait for the Disneyland train. You'd recognize it when it comes.

Inside the car: the grab handles are Disney-thematic

Hi Pluto!

Approaching the main gate

A station for a mini train that encircles the theme park


View along the main street

That rubbish bin followed the girl around after she dropped something into it. It stopped after a few meters.

Tomorrowland

For a non thrillseeker, I survived Space Mountain, albeit barely...

Approaching Fantasyland aka Sleeping Beauty Castle



 Stroller area. The theme park pays attention to the needs of its visitors. Children, senior citizens and people with special needs have the same accessibility around the park.


  
It's a 3D Movie with good effects. I felt splashes of water and gushes of wind during the movie screening

 A visit to Disneyland would not be complete without a picture of you and Mr & Mrs. Mouse :).



Disneyland always brings out the children in you :)

 
Flight of the Fantasy noon parade


 
We watched Festival of Lion King, a great musical you should not miss when visiting Disneyland

It rained in the afternoon, and most of the outdoor playground were closed. No need to be upset, there are indoor playgrounds you can try. 

You can also marvel at the cute buildings

We came after Easter, so there is egg decoration across the park. The eggs were made to look like Disney characters and was placed in various spots. It was like doing the egg hunt :).


 

 
 







Disneyland always closes the day by a firework show. The visitors were anxious about the firework show because the rain might hamper the execution. We were so relieved when the show finally kicked off. It was majestic!

The soundtrack of Aladdin (A Whole New World) has been stuck in my ears until now.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Macau

April 5: Lost in Macau


We left our bags at Mas Agung's place and took a ferry ride to Macau. Upon embarking in Macau, we realized something: the cellphone signal was gone! (insert horror soundtrack here). Okay, so maybe we're overreacting, but for two girls who can't speak Cantonese or Portuguese (Macau uses Portuguese, instead of English, for the street signage and other information, internet is a lifesaver.

We tried to calm ourselves and opened our gadget to see if there were Wi-Fi around. We found Wifigo, a Wi-Fi in every tourism attraction in Macau. It's Godsend. 

I've been wanting to go see the giant panda in Macau Giant Panda Pavillion, so we Googled how to get there. The instruction was not clear in the internet, it only said that we should go to Avenida Dr. Sun Yat Sen and take Bus No. 25. So we asked an officer at the ferry terminal. One officer relayed us to the other, and then it dawned on us: they didn't understand!

When traveling, be resourceful. I took a map at the information desk upon landing on Macau ground. There's Cantonese transliteration on places of interest. I pointed at Avenida Dr. Sun Yat Sen on the map. The officer told us to take the shuttle bus that goes to MGM Casino. "No need to pay. It's free," she said.

The ride was free, but we went in circles, wasting time from one casino to another. When we finally reached MGM Casino, we were sleepy. Macau on April 5 was foggy and a bit cooler than Hong Kong. We consulted our paper maps (because no Wifigo there! *cries*), and decided to go down a random road.

We stumbled upon this place: Kun Iam Ecumenical Center. Kun Iam was a princess who wanted to be a priest. Her father wanted her to marry a prince from another country, so he tried to stop her becoming a priest. Kun Iam persisted and later on she became a kind of saint who protected the area.

 
After all the effort to reach this place, it was closed *cries*. The officer said that it would be opened the next day.

From Macau Giant Panda Pavillion, we walked for a bit to buy Lord Stow's egg tart. A must-try when you're in Macau. It's the most delicious egg tart I've ever tried during the trip.

 
We also stopped by at St. Francis Xavier's Church in Coloane, Macau.

 
We had early dinner at Broadway Galaxy Macau. I forgot the name of the restaurant, but I remembered it was Singaporean laksa on the left and Malaysian beef dish on the right.

 
We managed to reach Macau Tower before the closing hour. Unfortunately it was very foggy that night. We couldn't see anything from the top. 

April 6: Getting Better in Macau

We left our accommodation at 8 a.m. and wandered on the empty streets. Life in Macau starts at around 9.30 a.m. so we just walked around, until we reached this place:

It's called Lotus Monument. The lotus flower in full bloom symbolises the everlasting prosperity of Macau. The sculpture was presented by the State Council of People's Republic of China in 1999 to mark the Macau sovereignty transfer from Portugal to the PRC.

In front of the Monument, there was Wine Museum and Grand Prix Museum. Admittance is free, so we went in.

 You can do wine tasting for 15 MOP

Michael Schumacher's car

 
One of the cars exhibited at the Grand Prix Museum

 
From those museums, we decided to go to Largo do Senado. After consulting the paper maps, I led the way. We passed this roundabout.

 
After walking for more than 30 minutes, we reached Largo do Senado. That was one huge proud grin from a girl who managed to read the maps in Macau. Yeah!

 

 

  Today's newspapers in Macau: a mix of English and Portuguese-language newspaper

 
St. Dominic's Church

 
Spiky head hahaha

 
Most shops around Largo do Senado sell snacks for souvenirs. This one is an exception.

 
The shops along the road to Ruins of St. Paul provide snack samples. We tried almost everything. I asked Aneen to eat first and inform me if it contained pork, because many snacks have pork fillings.

 
At Ruins of St. Paul

 
View from top of the stairs

 

 
 From Largo do Senado, we went back to Macau Giant Panda Pavillion, which was open that day, alhamdulillah. The pavillion houses two giant pandas, Kai Kai and Xin Xin.

 
Awww. Why do giant pandas have to look so cute?


We took the 17.45 ferry to Hong Kong. The second our feet touched Hong Kong soil, it felt like home. No kidding. Next post: Disneyland!