The Hong Kong Experience

I feel guilty for not being able to write anything for quite sometime now. Weeks before we left Qatar for our annual vacation, I got my hands full with the teaching job that I had at the nursery. Then it was time to prepare for the much awaited holiday. On May 4, we were off to Hong Kong. Our itinerary was just so tight and it was very difficult to find time to write. Thanks to Tian because he was able to take some time off to update the blog somehow.

Our stay in Hong Kong was definitely a blast. This time was different from our visit in 2001. Back then, we were only 2 whereas this time, we were 8 in all (6 adults and 2 kids). Traveling as a couple is definitely much easier than being in a group with both the “young once” and the “young ones”. I am referring to Tian’s parents and the 2 girls Xiane and Yiyi (Xiane’s cousin). Everything had to be done a bit slower. But it was fun just the same, nothing compares to being able to travel with family. We had been to places we wanted to visit in Hong Kong such as the Victoria Peak and Madame Tussaud’s, Ocean Park, Ladies Market, Wanchai, and of course saving the best for last, Disneyland! It was fun being in another place and experiencing a different culture and way of life and meeting other people. 

Having stayed in HK for a week, we somehow got to live like the Chinese. We used their very efficient MTR with which we used the “Octopus Card” (a card that is widely used in public transportation such as the MTR, tram, bus and the ferry and recently also being used in some outlets like 7-11, KFC, Watsons, etc.) We ate authentic Chinese food, so authentic that you know the very distinct smell of it even as you pass by a restaurant. Unfortunately, only Tian and I were fond of Chinese food, that’s why it helped that our companions brought along with them tocino, adobo, salted eggs and kilawin from the Philippines. But most of all, we had to do what is a must among the citizens of Hong Kong and that is walking for a lot for the most part of the day. How our feet and legs ached every single day! Only in Hong Kong have we walked that much.

It was great shopping in HK although now, I’ve come to realize that it is still a bit more expensive to shop there than here in the Philippines. But a visit in HK will not be complete without some shopping spree. When in HK, the best place to shop is the Wanchai area. Items are much cheaper there than those at the Ladies Market in Mongkok. Take note that at the Ladies Market, prices are marked up so one has to have good haggling skills or else you’ll end up paying more than you really should. Don’t follow my example though. I was at this stall selling Chinese blouses and tiongsams. There was this specific blouse that I liked then I started to haggle. The lady was selling it for HK180 (about QR90 or Php1,100). Trying to push my luck, I asked the lady to give it to me for HK60! The lady said “that is too much less”. In short, she didn’t give it to me for that price. She was a bit upset although not mad and when I told everyone about it, they all had a good laugh. They all teased me for what I did. The thing is, I was supposed to haggle for half the original price but being the genius that I am in math, I made the wrong calculation thus ending up with HK60. Too bad I had to leave the stall before the lady got angry.

Our last 3 days in HK were spent in Disneyland Resort. We rented a mini-bus as transportation from the Stanford Hillview Hotel in Kowloon to Disneyland, which is about 30-minute drive. Then we checked into the Disney Hollywood Hotel which I definitely loved. It was very cozy, contemporary and stylish. The rooms are good-sized and most of all the service was nice. That same afternoon, Xiane got to swim in the pool with Goofy. But of course, fun in Disney only starts once you get inside the Park. Soon enough we hobnobbing with our favorite Disney characters such as Mickey and Minnie, Donald and Daisy, Chip and Dale, Goofy, Pluto, Winnie the Pooh, Woody and  Jessie, Buzz, Cinderella and Alice. Children and adults alike are so crazy to have their photos taken with these characters that spending a day in the park won’t be enough. We also enjoyed the rides which are quite different from rides in other theme parks. Most of the Disney rides are interactive. Xiane’s favorites would be the Astroblaster, Pooh’s Hunny Pot and Stitch Encounter. But one ride we will never forget is the Space Mountain which for us is the scariest ride we have ever ridden so far. It is like a roller coaster ride without the loops. But what makes it scary is that it is an indoor ride, where the only lights you’ll see are stars that give you the feeling that you’re in space. The turns are quite sharp and not being able to see in the dark, one cannot anticipate what’s going to happen next. But the thing that scared us the most about it was when Xiane took the ride with her Tita Tin. We didn’t have any idea yet then that’s why her dad allowed her to go through it. Besides she passed the height requirement. Thank God she surpassed it with flying colors. She didn’t cry but most of all she wasn’t hurt. However, we swore that she will never ride it again. The same thing goes for me. We also loved the Golden Mickey’s, The Festival of the Lion King, Disney On Parade, Disney in the Sky. We were very lucky to have seen The Golden Mickey’s as it is shown only in HK and the Disney Cruise. Unfortunately, the use of video cams was prohibited in the theater. Disney on Parade was so fun to watch. The Disney characters paraded in themed floats along with dancers and performers in costumes who are mostly Filipinos. Disney in the Sky is probably the grandest display of fireworks that I have ever seen. Our Disney experience was definitely well worth it. All of us really had a taste of what it is like to be in “the happiest place on earth”.

Our stay in HK was just the perfect way to start our vacation. Aside from all the fun we had, having spent it with Tian’s family makes it really more special and memorable. It is something that we will cherish for the rest of our lives.

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