#Bangcock Day 1: NAIA and Suvarnabhumi, Baiyoke, and shopping (also, money matters when traveling)

But first, let me take a selfie

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And -fies of random afams in the airport. Hello, Northern European-looking guy!

20141118_085223IMG_5832IMG_5833I want this pop art-inspired luggage cover!

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NAIA Terminal 2 was still a bit gloomy, yet buzzing with travelers, when we got to the airport. A lot were boarding for different flights so we easily found a spot to lounge. We arrived an hour early and we were enjoying the silence… when the President arrived for a flight… (What were we thinking, it’s the national carrier PAL’s terminal after all.) Lol, no pictures because I was so tired, coming from work and shit.

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The flight to Bangkok was usual – though I can bet a finger that PAL’s food could improve. And I hope there were no crying kids, because god knows I needed sleep that day. Seeing Suvarnabhumi airport again was refreshing though! The space-inspired international hub was in its usual hustle and it was energizing to be back!

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First order of business though when we landed was to get some baht. I used to lug around dollar notes when I’m traveling but due to recommendations from Val and the internet, I had to try withdrawing from the local ATM. I was curious if I can save a few hundred pesos… but turns out it’s just the same. The exchange rate in the Philippines for buying baht was at 1.6, and I think I saved only a couple of ten pesos, since essentially the Bank in Thailand will convert your pesos to dollars then to baht… plus fees from both banks. Basically, I approximately got an exchange rate of 1.45. If you have some tricks up your sleeve with these currency exchange, please hit me up huhuhu.

IMG_5842Hello, photobomber!

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This time around, we opted to stay at Baiyoke Sky Hotel, only Bangkok’s tallest skyscraper at 89 floors. Thanks to Val who treated us the hotel room, being it her birthday treat! The hotel is kinda old though… you can literally smell it. The actual lobby is at the 18th floor and if you go down on lunch time be prepared to the swarm of tourist groups as the tower is also a tourist attraction. So. Many. PEOPLE. FML (for my life, that is.)

IMG_5849IMG_5850Well I have to give it to them for having a fruit stand — INSIDE THE HOTEL LOBBY!

IMG_5851IMG_5852The bar near the smoking area on the 18th floor also has a driving range. If you got golf skills, time to show off!

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The view of the Pratunam skyline from the room pays for what seems to be things that need attention. For one, I think Baiyoke needs to be more conscious about attendant’s behavior — especially those who are in the front desk… Everything’s bearable if their people are smiling.

/endrant

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There’s nothing much to do at the hotel, so off to the nearest mall/market we went! Right outside the hotel is the Pratunam Market and it’s a hella big market – food, clothes, accessories, and all sort of Asian Market fare can be found there. If you walk a little further, it’ll bring you to Platinum Fashion Mall – where you’d find one the best deals on clothes, all the more if you buy in bulk. I guess, businesses here in Manila who source in Bangkok get their stuff here! Plenty of good stuff… and I love their foodcourt – where you need to exchange your money for a card you swipe to buy food. Snazzy!

IMG_5863IMG_5864The first of many Tom Yum Goongs for this trip!

IMG_5866IMG_5867IMG_5869IMG_5870IMG_5871IMG_5872IMG_5874Almost bought this!!!!

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It was just the first day, but coming from work I just felt very tired and I crashed the minute I saw my bed after walking in the humongous Platinum mall. We even rode the tuktuk, who totally scammed us with a 100 baht charge, but kebs we’re too tired to argue.

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The next day we’ve had the party of our lives so stay tuned for more stories!

*With photos from Con and Val

 

Back from obscurity… and #Bangcock!

Finally, getting back up from a stomach flu! I haven’t felt that bad in the gut since god knows when and… I admit I’m still not that well… but manageable at the least! Phew… is this growing old?

IMG_5880Pratunam at night looks so lovely

But anyway, last week two of my friends from the office and I went to a whimsical trip to Bangkok and it never felt any better than being back in a city that I love! I was just there last year and despite the then-starting protests, the city was electric and full of energy… and still is the same! Though unplanned and this trip left me practically using up money that I shouldn’t, I wouldn’t regret anything. It was a hell lot of fun!

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I got to do other things than temple tramping because I’ve done that last year! So it was about museums, the sex district, lots of drinking… and definitely it also involved lots of food. The city looks a hell lot like Manila but I guess there is really something being in a different city other than yours… makes you feel alive.

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Central Thailand has one of the best cuisines across all of Asia, and I wouldn’t miss it for the world! I even learned a thing or two from Baipai Thai Cooking School! Met a couple of people from our small class , had tons of fun playing around the kitchen (without burning anything, of course!) Will definitely whip some Thai realness in the kitchen from now on… where to find ingredients though; we will scout for, that is.

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And what is #Bangcock when there is no sleaze involved. I know any city would kinda regret if they’re known for sex shows but I think it just adds charm to good ol’ Bangkok. You all know the story guys… HANGOVER! So Two Gays and A Girl booked the Hangover Tour for kicks and it was a looooooot of oohs and aahs quite literally. Bangkok at night changes from sobriety to sleaze in a snap!

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There is a lot to tell about our little getaway to Bangkok, including photos I prolly shouldn’t have taken but I’ll share anyway…

I can’t wait to tell all of ’em to you! Stay tuned!

Hong Kong Hustle: Coffee Shop Hopping at Jervois Street

I didn’t get to have all the coffee that I want back in Hong Kong but I took note of the interesting cafes that I saw while strolling around the area. Hopefully, they’ll be of help for you as well! 

Most of these are found at Hong Kong Island – in Sheung Wan, Wan Chai, and Causeway Bay. Hopefully, this list will grow – because I’ll definitely go back soon! Maybe a lesson or two from the Coffee Academics… and an overcaffeinated vacation…

Ah! One can dream…


 

IMG_5513The Coffee Academics 
38 Yiu Wa St, Causeway Bay
+852 2156 0313
10am – 11pm

IMG_558818 Grams Specialty Coffee
77 Wing Lok St, Sheung Wan
8am – 7am (I’m not sure if this is serious tho lol)

IMG_5590VEYGO Coffee
Kai Fung Mansion, 2-24 Jervois St
Sheung Wan
+852 2205 1011
9am – 10pm

IMG_5591Catfe
85 Jervois St, Sheung Wan
+852 3590 2686

IMG_5592Fetch Coffee
109 Jervois St, Sheung Wan

IMG_5595Backerei Cafe
G/F Western Market, Sheung Wan

IMG_5602Agnes B. Cafe L.P.G.
17-19 Yun Ping Rd, Causeway Bay

IMG_5675Rabbithole Coffee and Roaster
3 Landale St, Wan Chai
+852 2528 0039
7:30am – 8pm

IMG_5692Barista Jam
126-128 Jervois St, Sheung Wan
+852 2854 2211

IMG_5694Cupping Room
LG/F 299 Queen’s Road Central
Sheung Wan
+852 2799 3398

IMG_5695Corner Kitchen Cafe
226 Hollywood Rd, Sheung Wan
+852 2547 8008

IMG_5697Caffe Habitu
Hung Hom, near HK Polytechnic Uni

 

Flying away… yet again.

DSC_0300From last year’s trip

By the time this reaches your screens, I’ll be in the airport, hovering towards the boarding gate because I’ve probably just arrived from work to catch a plane to the chaotic yet charming Venice-esque city of smiles. I’m with two friends who I’ll be traveling with for the first time and I have never been excited to be back in a city I’ve been before. The last time I was there, I was a bit tired from the Angkor Wat tours and I can admit that I haven’t done so much. Heck, I missed on having a bowl of authentic Tom Yum Goong served in the streets!! But I’m glad I did the temples then, because now I have time for other things like exploring the other districts like Pratunam and Ratchethewi and Khao San, and maybe take cooking classes, and Thai massage (perhaps with a happy ending… hehe) and so much moooooooore!

I was just on a trip last month, and even though this trip might really leave me broke and eating free food from the office pantry for the rest of the year, I wouldn’t care… (maybe not the wisest decision, but I’m so up for spontaneity right now)

Yes, I’ll be in this flight and will have a good time. 

I promise to save up after though because plans for 2015 is slowly upcoming. PRETTY. AWESOME. SURPRISES. But scared as well… 

Also, I’ll take this opportunity to congratulate my friend, Ella, who was with me last year in the same city. It was also my first time to go to more than one country and it was awesome and was a great year-ender for me. She’s now based in London and I got nothing but all the happiness in the world for her. Kudos to you, Ella, and keep calm and carry on! (I just had to.)

I’ll see you guys, soon! And with more stories to share 🙂

Hong Kong Hustle: Day 4; The Peak, The Amazing Airport Express, and Overall HK Efficiency

Being tired for the three days we were in Hong Kong is all right. Leaving is not :(

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It was our last day in Hong Kong and it was a kinda sad day to leave. Hong Kong is such a magical place! But then again, life in Manila waits. So the first thing we did that morning to maximize our time was to head over to the In-town Check-in over at Kowloon station. This is so convenient! Imagine dropping your bags early on so you’d just have to be at the airport just in time for immigration and boarding. Saves a lot of hassle imho. ALL AIRPORTS NEED THIS!!! The process goes like this —

  • Check if you airline allows for this here. Furthermore, check how many hours prior boarding your airline allows to check in through here. Our flight then was 10pm and we checked in at around 10am. NEAT.
  • Enter the check-in area near the Airport Express at Kowloon or Hong Kong station by badging in your Octopus card or buy a single journey ticket (around HK$90)
  • Drop your baggages and get your boarding pass. Quite literally, you’re now checked in and all you need is to show up for immigration, additional baggage drop (if any), and boarding.
  • The fare deducted from your Octopus will be used when you board the Airport Express. Make sure you’re not on negative by then though.

VERY EFFICIENT, HONG KONG. VERY. EFFICIENT.

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Then we headed back to Sheung Wan for breakfast! There were a lot of interesting coffee shops around and it’ll be a shame not try even one. We holed up in Barista Jam and had my usual flat white. I love, too, that they also retail coffee brewers of every kind. It’s a small space but the crowd is lively and energetic for a drowsy Tuesday morning.

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Then, for the last day, we caught Bus 15 in the Exchange terminus to go to The Peak to while time. We wanted to try the funicular but we found it expensive, touristy, and well… if we can go there without any queueing that’d be great, right? I love the Peak so much! It gives you a good vantage of the Hong Kong skyline and it’s a great place to spend a couple of hours. But other than that, there’s the usual shops, restaurants, oh… there’s this watch shop which offers a lot of discounts! I got a Casio watch for HK$ 100 (just US$ 13!!!!!)

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For one last hurrah at dim sum, without even trying to look for it, we just saw the world’s cheapest most affordable Michelin star restaurant on our way to the Airport Express via the IFC Mall. At first, we didn’t notice it because it has no English signs but the logo really seemed so familiar. Nica said we should eat there because there are a lot of foreigners eating there, and I was just like, I’m just really hungry. So we went in and as soon as we sat down we realized it is Tim Ho Wan! We ordered our usual dim sum, but we really had to try the pork buns, well… because it caused a ruckus in Manila. Verdict: the pork buns tasted way better in Hong Kong. As expected.

IMG_5721IMG_5722Reflex

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The Airport Express takes just about 24 minutes to take you to the airport… which is in an outlying island away from the city side. There are just two terminals (PAL is in the second one) but we were directed towards Terminal 1 because we already checked in at the MTR (yes it is redundant but I can’t get over how efficient it is.) There are a lot of shopping opportunities here but let’s skip that. Let’s focus on the fact that there’s Popeye’s Fried Chicken there!!! Without thinking, we queued in and got biscuits and chicken because why not. Who cares about waistline (oh but wait, I doooo. Nooooo. HAHA!) And it was just easy to while time here because everything is so organized… I only wish the same for Manila.

IMG_5663It’s been real, Hong Kong

I need to be back soon!

 

Hong Kong Hustle: Day 3; Ngong Ping, Star Street Precinct, and Tired Feet

There is more to Hong Kong than skyscrapers and fast pace. We got to know the countryside and the side of the city that's a bit quieter than the rest of Central.

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Day 3 and the walking wasn’t backing down! We headed to Lantau Island where the Tian Tan Buddha is. It’s the big bronze (was it??) Buddha bronze statue you see in postcards. Lantau is the biggest outlying island in Hong Kong and has the country feel on it – save for the humongous number of tourists though! We took the train to Tung Chung station and rode the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car to the island itself. It lands you to Ngong Ping Village where you can walk to the Tian Tan and Po Lin Monastery (thousand Buddhas!)

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Took us an hour or so to get to the island – including the time to queue for the cable car. Ngong Ping offers Standard Cabins and Crystal Cabins for HK$ 150 (US$ 20) and HK$235 (US$ 30) respectively. I am so glad we didn’t take the crystal cabin no matter how tempting it was. It will make you see how many hundreds of feet you’re high up. The Standard Cabin made me light in the head already and was thankful to see ground after. On the way back, I was a bit braver but still heights are not my strongest suit… so maybe no Crystal Cabin for me… ever!
IMG_5641IMG_5642IMG_5643There’s also a trail for hikers up to the Tian Tan Buddha. You may start by taking the ferry to Lantau from the pier at Central. 

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Throngs and throngs of tourists flock towards this part of Hong Kong as the Tian Tan Buddha is one of its most famous attractions. But there’s a laidback feel and you should feel comfortable enough to walk side by side them. Right beside the cable car station is Ngong Ping Village where there are a respectable lot of establishments to keep you from famishing yourself, or deprived of souvenirs.

IMG_5649IMG_5650IMG_5653High five, Gautama!

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One can easily spend a half day in Lantau, but there’s really nothing much to do there. Still, I really appreciated the calm break from the fast-paced city side. Very country mouse moment right there, folks! Now if you ask me, I believe that in every city there is a patch of quietness and it’ll just take you a little more strolling around… and a bit of research. Back in Wan Chai, we headed for the quiet yet really straightforward and downright artsy alley called the Star Street Precinct. The goal is: to pay homage to the Monocle store, and you know, get my monthly fix of read – which is cheaper by around PhP 200 elsewhere but Manila.

IMG_5664IMG_5665Stopped by JP Books for some more postcards to send back home

IMG_5666IMG_5667IMG_5668IMG_5669IMG_5670IMG_5671My favorite store, which name I forgot, by the corner of the precinct

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On our third day we were starting to feel the fatigue creep up, and we were in much need of a massage already. So off to Google to find the nearest to us. We found a small massage place which offers authentic Thai massage called Nirvana. It’s along the main drag in Wan Chai – Johnston Rd. – but may be a bit difficult to spot as it is in the nondescript Tung Fong building. The massage was a-ok, and the only masseur is a cute Thai guy *hihi*

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A bit of a side story: we were strapped for cash because we didn’t anticipate our, errr… lack of resistance to purchase things. All’s good though since we brought our ATM cards but, boom! BPI requires you to call before to activate your ATM for international use. So if you plan, or even just for backup, save yourself from the hassles of roaming charges and call the bank (any, for that matter, just to be sure) before leaving. BPI was kind enough to expedite (usually takes a day, I guess) because we were really in dire need.

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Oh well, what’s a trip without the misadventures? You only learn and become a better citizen of the world. And saves you the hassle on more important trips! Before that day ended, we rewarded ourself with fastfood (because, stress) and off to the Temple Street Night Market where we totally didn’t find anything interesting but saw the local life at night which was great – makeshift karaoke booths in the streets, hawkers, that escalated quickly porn DVDs and lots of sex toys.

I wish I brought mandals… there you go, another lesson!

 

Hong Kong Hustle: Day 2; Lazy Pandas, Touristy Things, and Quirky Finds Shopping

Day 2 is about touristy things and lots of walking... jeez it was gloriously tiring, but I'll do it all over again

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The first agenda of the day was to see pandas at the Ocean Park. We had coffee and croissant at a local Starbucks and got to Admiralty station for the bus. Unfortunately, there had been a reroute, so we got back to the MTR to Tin Hau. I just have to spend a moment though to say that the signs were put up the night before and it was so efficient and traveler-friendly of that move right there!

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I haven’t seen theme parks abroad plainly because I’m boring like that almost always alone traveling so it was kind of refreshing to see the humongous park. But I’ll be honest that, I wasn’t so thrilled – haha! Signs of ageing, indeed.

IMG_5550The cable car leads to the Penguin shows. The lines were incessantly long, so no we didn’t go.

IMG_5552IMG_5554IMG_5555IMG_5556This may start to seem like a bad review, please bear with me haha we just went here for the PANDAS! 

IMG_5557IMG_5559Cue: “Who is that girl I see / Staring straight back at me…”

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The Ocean Park houses a lot of zoo animals including this sad-looking but adorably cute fish that Nica and I couldn’t stop staring at! He’s like that chubby-faced kid from Up!

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AND FINALLY! PANDAS!!!! But lazy pandas, at that! I think s/he fully know that he’s being watched and that s/he’s being a troll for not moving. Huhuhuhu, that all our HK$ 320 (US$ 42) went to because spending half a day there with the hot sun above and the throngs of Hongkongers slash tourist crowd was too much to bear. I think half of the island’s population were concentrated there on a Sunday. So yeah, we watched this lazy panda, which I’d correct myself was just making kuyakoy (moving its feet sublimely as it slept) on us, and the playful red panda enjoying the tourists’ attention.

IMG_5573IMG_5574IMG_5578Another lazy panda. Much lazier panda.

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We were a bit disappointed with the pandas, so we went back to Sheung Wan to grab lunch. We ate at this nondescript diner with no English menu and a TV with horseracing on all day. Pretty legit. I felt like a kung fu scene from one of those movies we used to watch when we were kids would happen anytime. Flip all the tables, flying kicks, and flailing people. The works. But nah, it was just a peaceful meal with bouts of arguments in Cantonese, I think, whether who won the race and if their bets earned money. Beats me.

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We continued walking from Sheung Wan to Soho and the Aberdeen area (yes, walked) and saw these quirky wastelands (!!!!!!!) There were a lot of home stuff, but mostly were artisanal or curated so I guess that’s why it was a bit expensive. But, I got a few things like a wooden postcard (another !!!!!!!!) and we just passed through. We were looking for PMQ which was at the end of Soho bisecting Aberdeen.

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PMQ or Police Married Quarters is formerly what you think it is. It was transformed into blocks of creative shops selling artistic items from toys, postcards, books to clothes, furniture, and food. In Manila, we have these kind of stores, but not on steroids like these ones! We were just in time, I think there was an event there and there were a loooooot of people – both locals and foreigners – checking out the good stuff. I had an amaziiiing time looking at the stores. The stuff they sell there were on the pricier side though, so unless you came with a big budget, don’t expect to bring home a lot of stuff. I brought home a couple of postcards, a biographical photo-poetry book, and a really good shopping experience.

IMG_5611IMG_5612IMG_5613IMG_5614IMG_5615IMG_5616Five floors times two plus basements! There’s a connecting bridge somewhere in the fourth floor.

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The walking didn’t stop there. Oh god, can you imagine our aching feet?! But the city is too charming to resist. Literally, the place is a living and self-manifesting art in itself. Walk a bit and you’ll see great street art and the next would be a slew of local market finds like meat, vegetables, and oh dim sum ingredients (I think that was Graham Street Market, one of the oldest in Hong Kong!) We rode the train back to Austin and lucky for us, there are a lot of dim sum places in the area so, hello dinner!

IMG_5626In a funny-sounding yet renown place called Dimdimsum (to the tune of the minions song)

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We wouldn’t mind egg tarts for dessert really (from another store with no English menu again.)

Holing up

As you’d know if you’ve been reading up lately – I’ve been trying to get weekends to be really interesting for me. Life has been a bit routinary for me, and I badly want for weekends as terrific as they can. This would usually involve sleep deprivation, a big gash in the pocket, and random bouts of fatigue come the work week. For the past few weekends though, since I came back from a very off-budget trip (with another one boding in a week,) I’d rather myself spend weekends holing up in my apartment. This has given me a time for contemplation – mostly on how the past weekends went and also on life, yolo-ing, and the grand scheme of things. Read more

Hong Kong Hustle: Day 1; Causeway Bay and s’more

The hustle continues on Day 1!

IMG_5479But first, let’s take a few minutes to adore this cute cat stuff toy in some store in the MTR concourse

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Travel in the city center is easy because it is interconnected by one of the massive train systems I’ve ever seen in Asia. Clearly, I haven’t been to Tokyo because I heard it’s crazier there – but this is far better than where I come from! I like it when the trains are interconnected in stations and I need only one card to access all the lines. Convenient!

 

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So from the ferry ride, we walked to the nearest MTR station… but ended up in IFC. Forgive this Apple fan who hadn’t seen a legit Apple Store. I just had to pay homage even if there are more people in there than in the food court (crazy, right?!) This one’s in IFC. The one in Causeway Bay (yes, I also went there) is also packed! W O O O O O O W .

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The apartment we booked in Airbnb was nestled in the Austin neighborhood in Kowloon. It’s a nice quiet neighborhood; quite raw and feeling very local. It’s also near the MTR, convenience stores, and more importantly dim sum places – so again, very convenient. The stress from the trip from Macau is starting to wear off as the Hong Kong Hustle actually begun!

IMG_5483IMG_5491Funny-sounding restaurant. Filipinos will get why.

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Our first order of business here is to actually eat dim sum (hehe, what a dim sum lover would do?) but we first headed to IKEA and checked some stuff. Nica and I just moved in together temporarily and it’s been a hobby to look for home stuff (very tita.) And I need those Swedish Meatballs because we don’t have Ikea in Manila… yet!

IMG_5494IMG_5492IMG_5495IMG_5497IMG_5498Checked out the Occupy HK protests in the main drag as well. The crowd staying there was dwindling but I think it’s livelier there than in Admiralty where it originally began. Quick side story: I was actually scared our trip was gonna get cancelled because of this – same as when we were in Bangkok last year, the coup d’etat began. While I’m somehow interested in conflict tourism, I wasn’t particularly psyched of the thought. I’m sensing a pattern here. Hmmmm… 

IMG_5501IMG_5499IMG_5502IMG_5503Pretty, pretty Nica!

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And finally time for dim sum! Now, Hong Kong is home to a lot of Michelin stars, but I heard Din Tai Fung is a must if you visit the city. Since we’re in Causeway Bay and there’s one nearby, we might as well line up. And oh boy, the line was long but they group you by how many you are in the dining group – so lucky for us, we’re just two and we were just 15 minutes in the line and we were seated. Generally, the dim sum was awesome! We didn’t eat that much because it was like second dinner already. (Now I’m hungry writing this now. Argh.)

IMG_5506IMG_5509IMG_5512Hello there, more-than-a-hundred-year-old tram!

IMG_5510The city is full of pretty decals like this one!

IMG_5511And I saw the Alexandre Plokhov collection in Uniqlo. Naturally, I bought.

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I’ve heard that coffee is great (and a bit (sic) expensive (sic)) around here, so it’s a part of my goal to try a coffee shop a day! Preferably, third wave (no scoffing.) My first stop would be The Coffee Academics. It was a bit hard to locate but all worth it. One of the best and well-executed flat whites I’ve ever had. Plus the crowd is vibrant and lively. I imagine myself hanging out there if I had the chance to live in Hong Kong. (I wish, wish, wish…)

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I wasn’t ready to give up my night yet even if I flew out straight from work. I just had to check out the nightlife, particularly at Jervois street, where a lot of friends I knew went, too. This is Volume BEAT and can you see how incredibly energetic the place is?!

IMG_5539Meet my gang for the night: Peter, Nick, Daniel, Cameron, and Stephen! Oh how I wish I have a photo of Antonio, too!

IMG_5536IMG_5537IMG_5533Freaking felt like home when I saw San Miguel beer in the 711!

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Now, I will cap this post with a very interesting story. So after all that schnazz at Volume and I had my volume dose of boys, I was a bit drunk and must have made out with some guys when I headed out and decided to go home. I was stupidly waiting for a bus because I didn’t know that the buses there aren’t operating all day. I got bummed of the empty roads and asked someone in the streets if a bus will come anytime soon and he was kind enough to check the bus schedule for me. I was a bit worried, and flash-sobered-up, this time around because I know taking a cab here can be expensive! Eventually he, too, got a cab because he’s got something to do asap.

He asked me to join me in his cute Chinese accent, “I’ll buy you a cab” since his destination is on the way (go Kuya Cute Chinese why not! HAHA!) Without thinking doubly, I rode the cab with him, and I guess he looked like a good person so I did anyway. Midway, I was thinking if he’s gonna scam me or kill me or whatever. I chose to just pretend sleep to hide that I was nervous and we got to Austin in no time (and me apparently unharmed.) When I was reaching to my wallet to pay my share, he stopped me and said his boss will pay for the cab ride so he’s treating me the fare (!!!!!!!!!!) /faith in humanity, restored!!!

 

Hong Kong Hustle: Day 1; Getting There… Alternatively

Hong Kong (HKG) is just two hours away from Manila via direct flight, perhaps the most convenient way to get yourself in the region. It is also an amazing international hub that serves major airlines around the world… But it isn’t the only way to get inside Hong Kong.

IMG_5432Couple rucksacks! HAHA

Actually, traveling via Hong Kong airport is more costly than going through the other airport nearby – which is Macau International Airport (MFM). I got a flight that costed us just PhP 2,250 each (roughly US$ 50!) but, caveat: we flew through MFM and the trip took a bit longer as the ferry ride take a good hour to arrive. And some more…

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Again, kudos to AirAsia for a very relaxed flight, save for a bit of turbulence and some very rowdy, beer-smelling seatmates. Nica and I checked in online, and therefore didn’t get the chance to choose seats.

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The flight was actually just the same number of hours if you’ll fly through either airports. In Macau also, you have the choice not to go through immigration and be directly transferred to the pier where the ferry to Hong Kong is.

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By this time, you’ll need Hong Kong dollars to pay for the transfer — which will set you back HK$ 217 (US$ 28). Come to think of it, the cheap flight comes with a little drawback on the side. You can easily get the best rates at this bank behind me in the picture below. After having your money changed, just follow the signs that tells you where Express Link is.

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A few realizations on taking the Express Link, though:

  1. There is not a lot of concrete instructions here but I think it’s safe to say that the time is accurate. You just have to remember it will be difficult to communicate in English.
  2. Not a lot of foreign visitors (by this I mean, non-Chinese) take this service. We were waiting for someone who hopefully can speak English in the area but we’re kinda stuck with ourselves there.
  3. Once you paid your ticket, you’ll be given a sticker that says Taipa Ferry. They will not give you a receipt so don’t lose that sticker.
  4. We almost missed the ferry because there are no signs in the Ferry Terminal where people should go from the Express Link bus. So reminder, guys: follow the tour group you probably shared the bus with and go inside to get your ticket (which is included in the Express Link fee).
    • Telling this to you may also mean that we kinda lost our way then and went straight to the boat only to find out we need a ticket /facepalm.

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Despite the misadventures early on at Macau, we still made it to Hong Kong in one piece, albeit Nica’s sea sickness. The ferry would disembark at  Shun Tak Centre and at immigration, you will have to sign the arrival card like textbook, and queue for your passport stamp, errr… immigration paper! Don’t get weirded out that they won’t stamp your passport… I know, it’s sad if you’re collecting those stamps 🙁

I wonder; when did they stopped stamping passports? Hmmmmmmm….

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Oh, and if you’re going through this route, know that Hong Kong MTR station is just a few walks away from the ferry terminal – just follow these signs and you’ll be in the MTR in no time. Drop by IFC, too, if you want!

* On your way back, you may just follow the steps in reverse to go back to MFM.
** We extended our stay and chose to book another (albeit, expensive) flight and flew through HKG because Nica got sea sick of the ferry ride.

Photos taken using an iPhone 5

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