Monday, May 29, 2017

Hong Kong Savvy

So off we went to Hong Kong on the 2nd week of May, 2017. Here, I will be sharing with you how we were able to stay in Hong Kong for less than Php 20K.

Senado Square, Macau

Every Juan Flies

Let's begin by saying that we got our pretty cheap two-way fares via Cebu Pacific Air for Php 3,982.00 each. This, we had booked months (6 months or so) before our trip. It's pretty helpful to subscribe to their newsletter to be informed of the latest promo fares for both local and international destinations. Or, you can simply hit the like button on their Facebook page to see their latest updates.

We're so lucky we have direct flights from Iloilo to Hong Kong. Only problem is there are only 1 or 2 flights for Iloilo to Hong Kong in a week and the flights usually start from 11PM onwards. Thus, we had to board at 9 or 10PM and arrive at 2AM in Hong Kong.

Tai Wah: The Friendly Guest House

Perhaps the next thing to look for after buying plane tickets is a place to stay at while in Hong Kong. We wanted to keep a tight budget to be able to do more with our money during our stay and so we opted for cheaper guest houses or inns if we could find any. 

Lucky enough, we had friends who had recently been there and they recommended we stay at Tai Wah Guest House which is located at Tsim Sha Tsui. We found the cheapest rates by far at Agoda and so for 4 days and 3 nights, we only paid Php 4,655.00 good for 2 persons sharing a single room.

At their reception, you'll be greeted by very accommodating Filipinas. I just love how I feel at home in a different country knowing that someone truly understands you and your ways since you grew up in the same country with the same culture.

Klook App

Next, we bought tickets for Hong Kong Disneyland using a very helpful app, KLOOK. Using this app, I get to buy a one-day admission ticket for only Php 3,509.69 instead of Php 3,989.00++. You'll be surprised how prices can change when using a credit card since they base the amount on the latest exchange rate for the day. In my case, I used my credit card to pay for a Disneyland Ticket amounting to Php 3,483.00 via the app but later on, I found out that after my payment had been processed, I was charged Php 3,509.69. Anyway, this is way cheaper than buying at the official Hong Kong Disneyland website so I took it.

Also, they're giving away discounts for first-time users of the app. Thus, the cheaper price.

The Indispensable "Octopus Card"

Immediately after arriving at the airport, we looked for the "Octopus Card" which can pretty well be bought from any 7/11 Stores and of course, at their Mass Transit Railway (MTR). 

This card can do wonders! I mean we don't have it in the Philippines and so I'm in awe. It's like having a Metro Rail Transit (MRT) card, a Happy Plus Card (Jollibee) and a debit card in one.

It's very important since most of the time, you need to ride trains and less of buses if you want to move from one place to another at a faster pace. The MTR usually closes at 12MN and I remember that since we arrived at 2AM, we had to take the bus from the airport and arrive at Tsim Sha Tsui at 4:30AM. Whereas when we rode the MTR from Tsim Sha Tsui to the airport, it only took us 30 minutes.

For some reasons, I found it very convenient loading it with a certain amount and being able to use it when I dine at McDonald's, KFC, Cafe de Coral (largest, most successful Chinese fast-food brand in HK) or wherever they accept it. I can use it when I ride the MTR and buy midnight snacks at 7/11 Stores. It just makes me feel safe and happy using this card. How I wish we had one in the Philippines. Haha.

By the way, one Octopus Card costs HKD 39.50 and that's without any load into it. Thus, you have to pay another for the load to use it. 

No More 'Stamping' in Passports

I always wanted to be able to have 2 stamps on my passport by just visiting one country. Thus, my deepest desire to go to Macau while in Hong Kong. 

Canton Road

Much to my dismay, they don't do stamping in Hong Kong anymore because according to Mr. Corrado Chow, then Asst. Immigration Director, in a press release that he made last February 8, 2013, it would save them 3 seconds per visitor if they replaced stamping with computer-generated slips. Also, issuing those slips made it more convenient for visitors as they no longer have to face the fear of losing their slips as their information have already been stored in the above-mentioned computers.

Oh well! Here goes nothing...

Former Kowloon-Canton Railway Clock Tower

When in Macau, Use the Temporary Ferry Terminal

From our guest house, we walked to the Hong Kong China Ferry Terminal and paid HKD 164.00 for our ferry ride from Hong Kong to Macau. 

I can't remember how much we paid on our way back but do take not that the fare gets more expensive as the night falls. 

Senado Square

Then, we arrived at the Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal in Macau. We actually made a mistake because this terminal was an old one and all ferries usually come back from Macau to Hong Kong via the Temporary Ferry Terminal in Taipa, Macau. 

The Venetian

For a moment, we thought we got lost because when we decided to go back to Hong Kong, we had a difficult time crossing streets and riding one bus to another because the two piers were not near each other in Macau. It took us quite some time to realize this while looking at our maps, but thank God we made it.

Gambling Capital of the World

As soon as we arrived in Macau, we were amazed at how most infrastructures were painted gold as if they were that of Aladdin's Arabian Nights. Haha. The buildings were really worth looking at and anywhere you looked at seemed so grandiose and colorful as if enticing you to come in and have some fun.

Unfortunately, we weren't into casinos and gambling so we just took advantage of the free rides the buses of the different hotels in Macau had to offer. But we did some strolling at the Venetian and at some other hotels like the Grand Lisboa, the Parisian, Galaxy, etc. We jumped from one hotel to the next until we reached our destination: Ruins of St. Paul, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We took the streets from Senado Square and wandered around, hopping from one shop to the other. Ooh! If I just had all the money in the world. Haha!!!

We went back to Tsim Sha Tsui tired but full of happy stories to share to our loved ones. At about 11PM, it was time to take a rest in preparation for another day ahead.

The Child in Me

Day two came and we had a hearty meal at KFC. What I like the most in Hong Kong is that instead of immediately offering coffee or soda for breakfast [like how it is in the Philippines], they let you choose between coffee or milk tea. No wonder why most people are slim and healthy!

After eating, we headed out to the train station and rode all the way to Hong Kong Disneyland. When we arrived, the place hadn't opened yet and so we waited for a while. We spent an entire day watching all the attractions and using all the rides in Disneyland.

We had a lot of fun and I felt that the child in me had been awakened once more. 

Shopping! Shopping! Shopping!

And while we wanted to go to Lantau Island or The Peak, our time left wouldn't allow us to. We weren't able to check if the cable cars were already working-- the reason why we wanted to go Lantau Island so badly. 

We didn't want to use the bus anymore because it took us a lot of time so we decided to take the MTR before 12MN. Thus, we thought of staying at Causeway Bay to go to Time Square, the most famous landmark in Hong Kong. There, we were able to go shopping for cheaper finds as most brands were on sale because it was Mother's Day. Hurray for Mother's Day!!!

We hopped from one mall to the next until it was time to go at 10PM. From Causeway Bay, we headed for Central Station and transferred to the station leading to the airport. And at about 10:45PM, we arrived at the airport. We boarded at 11PM and took the 2AM flight.

We finally got home after spending less than Php 10,000.00 excluding the airfare, Disneyland Tickets and accommodation. The above-mentioned amount included beef jerkies and other pasalubong for just a few of our loved ones. 

I guess this is all for now... :)

Friday, October 7, 2016

Ilocandia Tour: Baluarte ni Chavit Singson

We had no time to waste so we headed to the "Baluarte in Chavit" in Vigan City right after our tour to the Luna Shrine

This is the Safari Gallery inside Baluarte. It's pretty amazing. One of the best shots I took.

So here's what'll greet you the moment you enter the place. It's like a wide safari.

Further up, you'll find real, live animals...

This tiger over here looks a little cute from afar but just thinking about how it could cut your hand in a snap, makes me wanna have second thoughts.

These wax figures almost seem real and scary...

Looks like Mr. Singson helped in hunting these beasts down

And for our next stop: the Bantay Watch Tower.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Ilocandia Tour: Hidden Garden & the Luna Shrine

In this post, I will be sharing to you how we had a blast in Ilocos for only Php 2,995!

So we booked earlier, had our tickets for Php 2,400+ each and enjoyed the rest of our Ilocandia experience with Shawn Sam Travel and Tours.

We all met at the SM Mall of Asia at around 10pm. The flights had been delayed that day so we were an hour or so late. [Shawn Sam Travel and Tours accepted us as joiners so there were like 4 groups in that van.] We arrived at around 6am and had our breakfast at the Hidden Garden Restaurant, which by the way, is 4th among 36 restaurants in Vigan.

It was a looong ride and so we had to fill our stomachs up. Our kind and friendly driver took us to the Hidden Garden where we were to choose among their breakfast meals like the famous Ilocos longganisa, bagnet, bangus and tapa. Sorry, I don't have pictures. We were so hungry! But the bagnet was really good.

After our sumptuous breakfast, we headed straight to the Luna Shrine, the former home of the famous Luna Brothers: Antonio ("The Fiery General" of the Philippine-American War) and Juan (the brilliant painter behind the Spolarium). They were the 2 famous among 7 siblings.

Juan Luna
Statue of Juan Luna & Paz Pardo de Tavera
Pardo de Tavera Family with Friends
Reproduction of the 19th Century Microscope
Letter of Juan Luna to the Overseas Ministry declining his appointment as intern professor at the School of Arts & Crafts in Manila

The room of the Luna sisters

Juan and Antonio Luna
This is all for now. See you in my succeeding posts :)


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