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Friday, October 8, 2010

Hong Kong Part III Shopping and Madame Tussaud

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On our third day in Hong Kong, we planned it for shopping. Our first stop was to go to this bling bling shop that I had seen at youtube. I was really excited to go to this shop upon seeing that video that I jotted down the address ang google-mapped it. It was near our hotel and also near a mall named Dragon Centre where I was planning to take them after for shopping.

We rode to Sham Shi Po station and exited at A22 and walked. If there’s one thing I really love about google maps is that you can actually drag this person icon on the street so you can have a 360 degree view so it was easier for me to locate the shop. Unfortunately, it seemed like it was too small than what was shown in the video, very disappointing for me. I was hoping to find ready-made crystallized stuff but to no avail. We then proceeded to the next shop where I spent HKD100.00 for crystals 8 grams for HKD20. I was very pleased when the vendor handed back the extra HKD100.00 to me, she was very honest because I mistakenly paid twice. She also knew that I was Filipino and I never felt any negative energy from them and they were so nice to me.

I know my parents were getting impatient to shop so we walked towards Dragon Centre which was two blocks away, it was 10 am and the mall was already open but a lot of shops are still close. We found out later that most of the shops open at 11 am which is so unlike the malls we have here when  malls open at 10am, every shop should also be open and you’d be fined if you open or close late. My mom in particular didn’t like the place because it was a bit of a reminiscent of MBK in Bangkok. But she shopped a lot at the Bossini store below. Our purchase reached a HKD400 that we got a stroller bag for the price fo HKD100.00. That bag was a blessing in disguise because it was easier for my Dad to drag it around and put all the things we shop inside it.

We were at a lost where we would go next. I suggested that we go first to Golden Center where electronics can be found at cheap prices. My mom was able to buy an 8 GB USB stick for HKD90 while in the Philippines it costs  about  PHP700-PHP1000.00. We then rode the MTR to Admirality since my sister said we can go visit Pacific Place, a mall that  a person from the HSBC branch in Dragon Centre recommended. It turns out, this mall sells high-end products that we can’t afford (we can actually afford them but we won’t spend that much on stuff). Noon was fast approaching and we can’t find a fastfood where we can eat. Finally after  45 minutes of searching, we were able to find a KFC branch near a building  beside Queen’s Plaza.

In my personal opinion, shopping in Hong Kong for those on foot is very inconvenient because malls usually sell high-end and branded stuff and they are usually 2-3 floors only. If you want those cheaper brands like Giordano, Esprit  or random unbranded stuff, you have to walk on the street because they are housed on stall or shops along the MTR stations or around the long Tsim Sha Tsui road. It’s very much unlike Bangkok where if you want cheap stuff you can go to MBK and if you want  shops with high end products you can cross the street and go to Siam Paragon and if you want mid-level price range, you can just go to Central Plaza which is just beside Siam Paragon.

After our lunch, we scoured Queen's Plaza and I splurge on make-up from Sasa and Watsons's. I was able to spot a stand were they sell miniature perfumes for as low as HKD22, the perfect pasalubong. I splurge on that too and my Mom and Dad also bought a lot of that for pasalubongs. I insisted we go to Sogo at Tsim Sha Tsui so that after shopping, we could hang out by the Avenue of the Stars. So we rode the MTR again and walked a long way towards the Sogo Exit ( if I remember correctly is F and J2?).  It was a good timing because Sogo was having a birthday sale and a lot of stuff were discounted at more than 30%. My sister and mother each bought Lacoste bags now priced at HKD350-HKD390 when their original price is around HKD690. You can’t buy any original Lacoste bags at that price in the Philippines. I was able to buy a COBO bag that can be a shoulder or a sling bag. It originally cost around HKD800 but I bought it at HKD390. I never heard of the brand but it’s made and registered in Italy and the handles are pure leather. One bag brand that intrigued me the most is Che Che, I haven’t heard of that but their bags are super cute but they cost a whole lot.

A lot of cute ballet flats from Hush Puppies were also on sale but I didn’t buy because they were still expensive for me and I’m very comfortable in my Gold Ecco flats. People flock to Longchamp were some bags were sold at only HKD650-HKD900 from their original price of HKD1050-HKD1400. After shopping there, we went outside Sogo and walked to Avenue of the Stars. We relaxed for awhile before walking back to our hotel for a rest. After our rest we ate at the dimsum shop beside the hotel and we went out again and went to Ladies Market were we weren't satisfied again. The stuff they sell are the same and there was a bunch of rude foreigners who block edthe entire street like they own it. One in particular, told my sister to "shut up" when she said , "Excuse me " to pass.  We checked out some stuff at Broadway but their cameras were a bit expensive.

On our planned itinerary, we were supposed to go to Macau the following day but my Mom and Dad preferred that we stay in Hong Kong and shop again. We went to Harbor City were once again, most shops are of High End brands such as Louis Vuitton (people are actually lining up to go inside), Channel, Prada and etc. We went to the Esprit outlet and I was able to buy myself a pair of nice jeans. We also went to Silver Cord Mall before going to Victoria's Peak.
See that man with the child, the line extends from there and circled 4x that day

We rode the MTR to Central where I found a lot of Filipinas flocking around the garden. We then walked upwards to the Tram Station which was an additional torture to my feet. I have taken Mefanamic Acid that morning and it's effect is wearing off as well as the salonpas pads I placed on my heels. When we came at the top there was a very long line.  We waited for an hour to ride the Tram. My Mom was really in a bad mood and my feet were really aching. The worst part is, their were foreigners who pushed just to get into the Tram almost squashing the tiny kid held by his Chinese Grandpa.

When we finally arrived at the peak I felt so drained and I nauseous. I guess it's my fear of heights and fatigue. We spent an hour resting outside The Peak and then it was time for my sister and I to go see Madame Tussaud's wax figure.

You can't take pictures of Jackie Chan with your own camera but the rest, you can. My sister and I spent a lot of time taking pictures of each other with different figures. I have my favorite though, Aaron Kwok's. I also loved Cecilia Cheung's figure. Just a trivia though aside from the famous Edison Chen Scandal, I know about Cecilia because she is Nicholas Tse's wife and they both got married here in the Philippines at Amanpulo a very exclusive beach resort where stars like Mariah Carrey stayed. It's a whole island to be rented and it has it's own landing strip.

I was a bit disappointed with the Museum too because when we were younger, Nido sponsored a wax museum in our city at Victoria Plaza and each wax figure stood with a nice background or setting. Like a figure of Dracula would be standing near a coffin or Frankenstein in a laboratory complete with sound effects while the wax figures except for some like Aaron Kwok and Madonna are just standing without nice backgrounds, in particular Nicole Kidman's figure where you could see a door behind her.

Since Halloween is near, there was also a haunted asylum which really scared me. I just had my head bowed all the time because I was scared. Ghosts would just appear out of nowhere scaring  people off.

with Aaron Kwok-so cute!

Janice Vidal is part Filipino -CantoPop Idol

Barbie Hsu-Meteor Garden Star

Cafe de Coral @ Argyle
hot pot

If we lined up for an hour to go up, another hour is spent for going down and I barely have the energy to take pictures. I was so drained. I practically dragged myself to ride the MTR, I might as well just rolled down the hill. We stopped at Mongkok station and had dinner at Cafe de Coral where I had their steak. It was just good, I prefer Pancake House's steak. I would have liked to look around at Argyle Center but everyone was so tired so we went back to the hotel and packed our bags for the trip home the following day.

Our last day, we were supposed to go to Nan Lian gardens but surprisingly, my mom is still not finished with her shopping (it made my sister and I do a pact that next time we go abroad, it'll be only the 2 of us). We went back to Golden Center where she bought her Sony Vaio Netbook at HKD3600+. We also went back to Sogo where we had a sumptious Japanes lunch (reminds me of Rai Rai Ken) and we also went back for the scarf she wanted at a shop in Harbor City before we went back to the hotel to get our bags. We rode the taxi back to HKIA and had our Octopus card refunded. We had some last minute shopping done at the Disney store at the airport before we boarded our plane.

hehehehe! did they buy the entire HK?

So this is the end of our HK trip. Once again, thanks to the people at PEX for all the tips.  I hope returned the favor with this blog. Ciao!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Part II Disneyland Hong Kong

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On our second day in Hong Kong, we spent it at Disneyland. Initially, I had suggested to go there after lunch instead of morning. My sister wouldn’t hear of it so we went there. We bought tickets from the travel desk located at our hotel’s ground floor at HKD350.

We then rode the MTR from Prince Edward Station to Central. It was funny how I did not realize that we could have taken a shorter route and avoid 20 minutes of walking and time. It took us almost an hour to go there, We arrived at quarter to 11 am. We should have rode to Lai King Station which is also an interchange station of the Tung Chung Line that will take us to Sunny Bay Station where the Disney Station is located. We only realized this when we were on our way home.

So then we arrive at Sunny Bay. It was Friday and a holiday in Hong Kong that’s why there are a lot of people there but most of the people are Filipinos and Koreans. Some are from Mainland China. The Disney train had Mickey Mouse Shaped Windows. Once we arrive we went inside where it was really very hot. It is very advisable you wear sunblock, shades and bring an umbrella. We only bought one umbrella but umbrellas were available just before you enter into the main park, We bought an automatic umbrella with blue Mickeys at the price of HKD150.

We were lucky that the Halloween Special of Disney had started already. Malificent’s head as well as her Dragon’s guarded the entrance of Disneyland. We then rode this train that would take us to Fantasyland, northern part of the theme park. It’s better to start from there down to Main Street to avoid redundancy. However, if you are short of money for lunch and souvenirs, you can have them changed at Mainstreet. That day the exchange was 7.28 which was way better than the exchange rate of 7.10 and 7.15 from the airport and the hotel respectively.

Tip: There's a shop near Tiki Liki where we were able to buy 4 Key Chains at the price of HKD100.00. The original price of these were HKD60 each. You can also buy those Key Chains in Pairs to save money, though these converted to Peso is already expensive (key chain is about PHP300 per piece).

Once in Fantasyland, we walked pass the carousel to our right side (facing the entrance) and proceeded to Adventureland where we rode the Jungle Boat/Ferry Ride. But before that, we passed by a small souvenir shop where we bought Disney Shirts. I wasn’t able to buy souvenirs because I haven’t had my dollars changed (epic fail on my part). I saw this cute Dooney and Burke Bag but it was too expensive. I was also tempted to buy the soft black and pink Disney bag but thought that I might not have enough for other stuff later.

At the dock, they would classify you according to the language you understand. Chinese speakers were separated from the English and Korean. Our boat was manned by a female Caucasian. I wasn’t able to remember her name because she talks too fast. It’s also best if you are seated at the back of the boat rather than the front where I was seated with my Dad. The chances of getting wet is lower compared to those at the front and you’d have the advantage of having additional seconds to point or get a better angle in taking pictures. In front. I was just shooting and almost everything was blurred so I changed the setting of my Panasonic Lumix to highspeed burst. We also learned that it was better to video tape the ride so you won’t miss a thing because everything was a tad too fast.

After our ride, we split up. My parents watched the Lion King show while my sister and I crossed the lagoon towards Tarzan’s tree house (via a raft )which is also the highest point in the Theme Park. You could see Jane and Tarzan’s statue. Nostalgia hit me when I saw baby Tarzan and his mother Ape looking at a picture frame that flashes scenes from the movie while strains of “You’ll Be In My Heart” plays softly.

After the this, we walked towards the alley between Fantasy Land and Tomorrow Land where the cast were already preparing for the Disney Parade. It is also preferable if you watch the parade from here instead of Main Street because there are benches as well as shades to protect you from the heat of the sun.

I love the parade and of course, it will give you the Last-Song-Syndrome. You would see the Disney Princesses, Chip and Dale, Donald and Daisy Duck, Mickey Mouse etc. I swear, I think half of the cast are actually Filipino from the band to the dancers. The Princesses looked like they are foreigners instead of Chinese which is a contrast according to my Dad who has been to Tokyo Disneyland where the cast are Japanese even the Princesses. I tried to get a good shot of the Disney Princesses, in particular Sleeping Beauty because she was really pretty. (I wonder what kind of Makep-UP they were wearing it seems like it doesn’t melt from the heat of the sun and it doesn’t look thick)

After the parade we then proceeded to Tomorrowland where our Dad herded us to ride Space Mountain. I’m a big scaredy-cat. I don’t like riding rollercoasters so if you are like me, beware of this ride because this is their closest version of a rollercoaster without the upside-down twist. I was fooled, I thought it was just like those ride where you’d see LED screens flashing around you but then I never realize until the ride was over that it was a mini rollercoaster. The whole time my head was bowed down for fear that I would hit the ceiling (epic fail). After the ride I was numb, I felt like my knees were shaking and my Mom lost her appetite. (She was involved in a car crash last year where she was the only survivor so imagine how traumatic it must have felt for her) while my Dad and sister enjoyed the ride .

From left to right: Beef Wok, Grilled Pork & Beef Brisket w/ Curry Sauce

We ate at a restaurant adjacent to Space Mountain. I found out later that the food served or available are the same in other parts of the Theme Park (Fantasy/Adventure and Mainstreet). Unlike in Bangkok’s Dreamland, the ticket is not inclusive of food so you really have to have money. Food is at the price range of HKD45-60 per order. It was very satisfying though.

the unaffordables- very expensive pieces

My mother wanted to go home after so we split up again. We walked them towards Main Street where we have our dollars changed and shopped for souvenirs. Unlike them parks in the Philippines (Enchanted Kingdom) and Bangkok(Dreamland) the facades along Main Street are actually shops that are full of souvenirs. There’s a store of crafts (glass and crystals) and jewelry. The crafts were really expensive and even if I can afford them, I think I would have a hard time carrying them back home because they are breakable and Cebu Pacific is not known for handling baggage with care (my stroller bag broke, I can’t pull the handle anymore when I got it off the carousel at HKIA and there are shoe marks on it. I didn’t have “Fragile” stuck on to it because there was nothing really breakable inside it but it doesn’t make sense why my bag was handled poorly. Even on our flight back home when we had our bags classified as “Fragile” we lost the protective strap of one of our bags, thankfully no stuff got lost so better if you have locks). If you are an art collector and can afford these however, I suggest you buy it here because these are not available at the Disney Store at the airport. Key Chains (though not all variety are available) and biscuits and shirts are available at the Disney Store at the airport but for more variety, it’s better to shop it here than at the airport.

We also had our pictures taken with Goofy but were not able to take pictures with Mickey and Minnie because there were a lot people in line.

When taking your photo, you can hand your camera to an assistant to take pictures of you and the character and they also have an official photographer to take your photos. They will give you tickets so that you can purchase their shots if you want to (we didn’t).

At four in the afternoon, the Disney Parade started again, So for those who missed getting good shots, here’s another chance. This time we were at Main Street.

We headed back to Fantasy Land to get our picture taken with Belle and Cinderella, (I wonder where Ariel and Sleeping Beauty were). The Princesses talked to people who were having their pictures taken and they have tiny high pitch voices, reminiscent of old Hollywood stars. In comparison, their characters were taken care of like there’s actually a place away from the heat where you can have your pictures taken with them unlike other theme parks (okay, I should stop comparing-this is Disney –of course! Everything’s of superior quality). We then went to ride the “Small World Ride” after guzzling a big bottle of water (it’s also better if you could bring your own water because water costs twice more in here than 7/11’s which is also a bit expensive than Park n Shop’s). I enjoyed the boat ride too. The dolls were cute, it reminded me of the pictures that my Dad took when he went to Disneyland Tokyo.

Pictures inside the "Small World Ride"

It was already 5:30 when we got out so we passed by Adventureland again before proceeding to Haunted Hotel. We passed by this souvenir shop where there was a sale, you’d get 4 Key Chains for the price of HKD100.00 and these key rings' original price is at HKD60.00 each. It’s also wise if you buy those in pairs so that you can split them if you have a lot of people to give “pasalubongs” to. Halloween specials were already starting by that time. Adventureland was bathed in eerie lights already.

We then went to the Haunted Hotel. There was a long line but it moves fast. The Haunted Hotel wasn’ t really that scary. But it is way bigger than other Haunted Houses I’ve been. After that, we were suppose to stay at 7pm for the fireworks display but later found out that it starts at 9PM. Bummer! We were already tired. This is the disadvantage of going there early. We could have gone there after lunch and stayed up until 9 without getting tired (the heat contributed to the rapid depletion of our energy). My sister and I decided to go home.

It was fortunate however that when we were passing by Main Street, the ghost dance started, As I was about to cross the street , the cast in ghostly costumes ran out and started scaring people off before dancing. It was really nice how after the dance the characters stayed put to allow people to take pictures of them. I really enjoyed it. What a nice Halloween Feature.

Despite the fact that we didn’t get to see the fireworks, we were very much satisfied with our Disney Tour. We made most out of their expensive entrance ticket.

On the way back to the hotel, it was very funny how an Indian Guy hit on me despite the fact that I think I looked haggard. We were riding the MTR when my sister notice how these Indian Guys (about 20 something) were talking and staring at us. When a seat was suddenly vacant beside them, I grabbed the opportunity to sit because my feet were starting to ache. The Indian said, “You are very pretty. What is your name? Where are you from” I didn’t know what to say, I told my sister in Tagalog that we will stop by Sham Shi Po rather than Prince Edward. The Indian guy figured I was Filipino and asked where I was staying, I said my thanks for the compliment and hastily took off when the doors for Sham Shi Po station opened.

We walked out of Sham Shi Po and started to look for the bling bling shop I wanted to go to but I didn’t remember the exact address already and my feet were really hurting already so we went back to the station to ride back to our hotel after walking two blocks in Sham Shi Po. At the hotel, our parents have prepared a KFC meal for us- what a nice thing to eat at the end of a happy day.

Part III (Shopping , Peak Tram and Madame Tussaud’s) would be up next.