The Chronicles of SAR: First Day at Hong Kong (Day 03)

Our China Special Administrative Region (SAR) tour would of course not be complete if we didn’t visit the other SAR, Hong Kong.  For our third day, we were up early to temporarily say goodbye to Macau, and say hello to Hong Kong.

First glimpse of Hong Kong

This is part of a series

Hong Kong is just about an hour away from Macau via ferry, which is probably the most cost-effective way to get there.  The ferries that service Macau-Hong Kong is similar to those in the Philippines, although I think they’re faster.  Being an international trip in itself, you do need your passport, making this my first international sea trip.

Inside Terminal Marítimo do Porto Exterior (Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal) also known as the Macau Ferry Terminal
Everything is similar with ferries in the Philippines
Mostly empty seats
Good bye, Macau! See you in two days!

Arriving in Hong Kong from Macau gave me a bit of a “culture-shock”—it’s like coming from the province and arriving in a big city.  Hong Kong is really busy and crowded especially compared to the laid-back Macau.  And you definitely know that you’re in one of the places with the most expensive real state in the world as every space is maximized to full use.  There are still sidewalks despite the limited and expensive space, but the volume of pedestrians in some areas make it so much like Manila—congested.

We have arrived!
Hong Kong’s famous double-decker bus: what interested me was the ad 🙂 (No it’s not just the lady in a bikini, look at what the product is—a proud Philippine product)

We stayed in this hostel in Tsim Sha Tsui area along Nathan Road so we’re pretty much a stone’s throw away from the nearest MTR station.  It was here that we were acquainted with how precious space is in Hong Kong.  Aside from the “creative” use of space which leads to semi-labyrinth floor plans reminiscent of those in Divisoria, rooms here are very, very small.  Next to the capsule hotels of Tokyo, the single bed rooms in Hong Kong are the smallest one I’ve ever seen!

The really small “solo” room

After checking in our hostel, we were off for lunch, and the rest of our tour.  Like our previous challenges with time and space, we were not aware of any authentic Hong Kong restaurants in the area so we opted to eat with the nearest one, Café de Coral (again!).  Don’t get me wrong, Café de Coral’s food is really good, but it’s presence in both Macau and Hong Kong doesn’t exactly make it unique.  But since we’re already there, might as well enjoy.  I noticed that Café de Coral in Hong Kong displays their menu both in Chinese and English, which was a huge relief, and they do have some variations with their offerings.  Communicating in English here is also much better.

A Christmas tree made of chocolates 😛
My lunch: Café de Coral’s Yin Yang Rice
An MTR ticketing machine
Inside an MTR train: similar to Manila’s LRT Line 2 trains
En route...

First stop, Tung Chung.  Hong Kong is composed of several islands, and Tung Chung is not in Hong Kong Island but is in Lantau Island.  Even where we were staying is not in Hong Kong Island but is in Kowloon Peninsula, New Territories.  Hong Kong redefines our usual “island hopping” experience as you can actually get into these different islands via MTR so if you’re not aware of Hong Kong’s geography, you may actually think that all these places are all in one island!  Convenience at its finest!  (How I wish that Metro Manila’s train system was at least half as efficient)

Hong Kong MTR system map (courtesy Wikipedia)
Tung Chung

So why did we go to Tung Chung?  To get to Ngong Ping!  Yes, up until now that I’m back from Hong Kong, I still can’t make any sense of the names of the places I’ve been in Hong Kong as they all sound like random syllables to me.  Anyways, to those who haven’t been to Ngong Ping, it is where the famous Giant Buddha statue of Lantau Island, Hong Kong can be found.  It is on top of a hill and the best way of getting there is with a cable car!  Cool!

On our way to Ngong Ping
That’s where we’re going
Ooohhh… outlet stores… 😀
My ticket to Ngong Ping
My first cable car ride, weee!
Here’s our ride
Looking back at where we came from
Another form of island hopping
Not for those scared of heights!
Rising towards the mountains
Much better than riding a roller coaster
Now crossing the mountains
You may also go to Ngong Ping via the trails if you prefer 🙂
There it is, what we came for: the Tian Tan Buddha (Giant Buddha) of Ngong Ping
Approaching Ngong Ping

Ngong Ping is a popular tourist destination in Lantau Island, Hong Kong, which is home to the Po Lin Monastery and Tian Tan Buddha (Giant Buddha) among other attractions.  It is quite “touristy” and it feels like a theme park, but it is quite an interesting place to visit.  To those with open minds, it can be a very spiritual journey in itself.

Ngong Ping Tourist Village
It’s snowing! Nah, just kidding: these are artificial snow for the kids 🙂
This place is really “touristy”
Let’s eat!

The Giant Buddha being the main attraction in Ngong Ping, you’d have to expect that the area circles around Buddha as its theme.  It’s not strictly religious, but it’s really spiritual provided you’re there not merely for entertainment purposes.

A Monkey’s Tale Theatre is a pretty interesting show for all ages inspired by the famous Buddhist Jataka stories. I highly recommend you start with this attraction when you visit Ngong Ping to set the mood for the rest of your “journey.”
The Bodhi Wishing Shrine: as the name implies, you may ask your wishes here. The Bodhi tree, known as the Bo tree, is the “Tree of Awakening” under which Siddhartha meditated eventually attaining enlightenment and becoming Buddha.
Walking with Buddha is a multimedia show following the life of Siddhartha Gautama—the man who became Buddha—and his path to enlightenment. It is best to drop by here before going to the Giant Buddha
Route from the Tourist Village to the Giant Buddha
Let’s go!
Holy cow!
Stairs… 240 steps to get to the Buddha 
The Giant Buddha, at last! This 34-meter (112 ft) tall Buddha was the world’s tallest outdoor bronze seated Buddha until 2007.
Three of the six bronze statues known as “The Offering of the Six Devas” that surround the Buddha, posed offering flowers, incense, lamp, ointment, fruit, and music symbolizing charity, morality, patience, zeal, meditation, and wisdom, all of which are necessary to enter into nirvana.
View from the top
Had to have a picture here of course
The Buddha from another angle
Time to return
A model of the Altar of Heaven or Earthly Mount of Tian Tan, the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, located at the foot of the hill of the Buddha
Returning to the Tourist Village
One of the 12 Divine Generals that line the path
This dog was a scene-stealer, sitting in the middle of the road seemingly looking for attention from tourists (which he did successfully :D)
The first/last gate to/from the Giant Buddha
The Tourist Village starting to get empty as tourists rush to the cable car station to return to where they came from
Heading back…that bright island is the Airport Island of Hong Kong
Looks scary as a roller coaster, but it is definitely not 🙂
Back at City Gate Outlets in Tung Chung…this means one thing: shopping!
Tough rules: this is actually illegal in the Philippines so I was surprised to see that they allow this in Hong Kong
The fountain outside the City Gate Outlets

We got back to Kowloon a bit late but we still had some energy in us left to explore.  We first went to the night market but sadly it was closing time.  We managed to catch some stalls who’ve yet completely closed so some of us managed to buy some souvenirs.

Back in Kowloon
Doesn’t this kind of looks like a usual poster image of Hong Kong?
The night market
Is it time to buy a new watch? 😀
Some shirts, perhaps?

What’s more sad than the night market being closed was the weather not cooperating—it started to rain!  We noticed that people in Hong Kong don’t really mind getting wet as much as Filipinos do, but some of us were carrying cameras that aren’t water resistant (myself included) and we don’t have umbrellas so we took shelter for a while, and waited for the rains to weaken.  As with most of our SAR tour, no decent restaurant was found in our immediate area so we just moved on to our last destination for the night, the Avenue of Stars located along Victoria Harbour.

Avenue of Stars

Avenue of the Stars is like Hollywood Walk of Fame, and is a great place to see the skyline of Hong Kong.  But apparently our luck have run out and most of the lights were already turned off, and visibility was reduced because of the drizzle.

Lights, camera, action!
Bruce Lee
The skyline of Hong Kong Island
Ms. Piggy would be so envious!
Looking for shelter from the rain but all establishments in this area are closed…
It was a bit past midnight at that time and it was raining so we were surprised to find a group of runners running along the avenue!

Finally, time to go back to our hostel.  But before we do, we had to eat.  As much as I expected Hong Kong to be more accommodating during late hours, most establishment are closed so there’s not much choice to satisfy our hunger, except for convenience stores.  To think that it’s only around midnight!  And so as they say, “beggars can’t be choosers.”

Still raining! 😦 Looking for food…
So, what’s for dinner?
Looks good…
…if only it would cook well! It gets hot but doesn’t really cook evenly, and it tastes the way it looks—not really good…oh well at least my stomach accepted it well
That’s how our first day in Hong Kong ended: wet

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The Chronicles of SAR:

2 Comments Add yours

  1. pinoyleonardo says:

    You seemed to have enjoyed your trip in HK. Looks like you had a bargain getting the hostel in Tsim Tsa Shui area- which is close to a lot of attractions. When we were there, we had to take quite a trip to get there. Cool!


    1. dhenztm says:

      That area is pretty convenient albeit the rooms are really, really small. Wish we had more time though to really explore.


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