Hong Kong – The Grand City Tour

Early this month, E and I went on a Hong Kong vacation with my favorite girls – Jessa, Pat, Ria – and Ria’s mom. Pat’s boyfriend Mar was also supposed to join us but unfortunately, after a sudden turn of events, he had to stay home in Singapore. Erika had coast guard duties to attend to and Adel’s all the way in the States.

This trip to Hong Kong took months of planning (thanks, Ri!) and saving up for. The mother-daughter trip turned barkada trip got us excited since June. The itinerary/budget was set months in advance, so we knew exactly how much money we needed to save up for. By July, we opened a joint bank account which we promised to deposit a certain amount of money weekly. By the time November rolled in, we didn’t need to shell out a huge amount. We also conveniently had a money stash for the hotel deposits which we paid for prior to the trip. It was a genius idea, spearheaded by Ria, our BPI girl.

By 8 P.M. of November 6, E and I, fresh from our Cebu weekend, trooped to the Mactan Cebu International Airport to meet Jessa, Ria and Tita Ceres. Pat, by that time, was already on the plane to Hong Kong from Singapore, where she’s currently based. This is me, charging my phone, waiting for our flight:

waiting for our HK flight -- at the Mactan Cebu International Airport

After a 3 hour flight, we arrived in Hong Kong at around 1 A.M.

just arrived in Hong Kong

At the airport, we were supposed to buy Airport Express Travel Passes for our MTR/bus rides, but there were no open counters. Decided to buy the next day. Took the bus to the HK Taisan Guesthouse, where we were booked for the night.


Though we diligently counted bus stops, we got confused along the way and we ended up getting off the bus a couple of stops too late. It was a bit scary walking along the streets at 3 in the morning but we did get home safe and sound.

So anyway, as I mentioned, we were booked at the HK Taisan Guesthouse for our first couple of nights. They have three locations, but we stayed at the Burlington House, on Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui. Since we’d be out most of the time, we wanted to stay somewhere cheap and just comfy enough to sleep in. In short, nothing fancy since we were staying at the Disney Hollywood Hotel on our third night.

The location was perfect, as it was on one of the main streets and a walking distance to a lot of stores and food establishments. It was also a few steps away from the MTR-Tsim Sha Tsui Station. Our room gave us a nice view of the city at night. It was a bit small, but the beds were comfortable, the shower had a heater and we had a computer with internet in the room. We also had free wi-fi.

But I haven’t mentioned the best part yet. The caretaker, Ate Yolly, is a Filipina and speaks Tagalog so it was easy to communicate. Also, they sell tickets to most tourist spots at discounted rates. We got our cable car, Peak Tram, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and Disneyland tickets from her and we saved some precious HKD.

We weren’t able to take photos of the HK Taisan Guesthouse, but they do have a website :)

We started off Day 1 with breakfast at the nearby McDonalds. The HK McDo breakfast tastes the same as ours. Hehe.

Then we walked to the MTR station, bought Octopus cards (consumable cards which can be used to pay for MTR rides, bus rides, ferry rides and even to buy stuff from 7Eleven) and took the train to Tung Chung.

At Tung Chung, we lined up for the cable car ride. Thank goodness we bought tickets at the Taisan Guesthouse, as the line was impossibly long and I couldn’t imagine falling in line there. The line to the actual cable car was also long, but hey, at least we only had that line to worry about.

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See how happy we were when we skipped the line for the tickets?


Finally, we got on the cable car, ready for our relaxing 5.7km/25 minute trip. The cable car seats 8 people, so it was us plus a middle-aged couple. The view was breathtaking from the top and the air got cooler and cooler as we neared Ngong Ping. The long ride meant lots of picture-taking time.

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When we stepped off the cable car, we walked right through bubbles, bubbles and more bubbles. It took us a while to settle down because we obviously couldn’t stop taking photos.

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So finally, we got ourselves together and entered Ngong Ping Village. There are a lot of things you can do here but main highlight is the Big Buddha sitting on top of the hill.

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Before we could fully explore the place, it started to rain so we decided to eat lunch first. There was a number of decent-looking restaurants in the area but what caught our attention was this little carinderia. As Jessa pointed out, this was “authentic” Hong Kong local food. (The word “authentic” was going to be the word of the trip.) We got noodles, siomai, rice rolls and sticky rice with meat. I burnt my tongue early on because of the noodles. My taste buds died and I had to eat ice cream after. Haha.


After our lunch, we continued our sightseeing and headed to the Big Buddha. We got lazy and decided not to climb up the stairs. Hihi. The view from below was amazing already.


Afterwards, we resumed picture-taking and did some souvenir shopping.

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And that wraps up our Ngong Ping Village trip. Now, some touristy shots:


Our feet hurt after all the walking and we were bringing around too many shopping bags so we went back to Taisan to regroup. We packed up the stuff we bought, freshened up and prepared our feet for more walking.

That night, our main agenda was to check out the Symphony of Lights and to walk along the Avenue of the Stars. But before that, we took a scenic ferry ride to Hong Kong island. Too bad the ride was too quick. Just as we were relaxing, we had to get off the boat.

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view from our boat
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From the pier, we took the bridge connecting us to IFC Mall (the largest shopping mall on Hong Kong island).


After walking around, we asked the girl at the concierge if she could recommend us a good dinner place. She directed us to Cafe de Coral. The food was affordable and the servings were filling. I think I want to eat there again. If we don’t look happy in the pictures, it’s not because we didn’t like the food, because we did. It’s just that we were super duper tired from all the walking. Haha.


After dinner, more walking and sightseeing to burn off the calories.


Finally, we rode the ferry back to Kowloon island. The Symphony of Lights started as we were on the ferry, so we only caught the last portion when we landed. The Symphony of Lights is a light and sound show that features the buildings and skyscrapers along Victoria Harbour. Lights and buildings are always mesmerizing and we stood there, in awe. The buildings looked great in photos, too.

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Then off we went for a night stroll along the famous Avenue of the Stars. The air was really chilly that night, but that didn’t stop all of us tourists from having fun. Look at all those people taking photos of a Bruce Lee statue.

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And here’s E and I posing beside Jackie Chan’s star.


From the Avenue of the Stars, we surprisingly walked all the way back to the Taisan Guesthouse. But not without our feet screaming at us.

Gave our feet a little bit of rest, then we gathered enough strength to continue with our sightseeing. Before the night ended, we managed to drag ourselves to the night market. The shops were preparing to close by the time we got there, so shopping wasn’t as fun. Only Pat came out successful. The rest of us were too tired to haggle, or were scared away by some very persistent tinderas.

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We ended our day past midnight. Our feet were sore and we just crashed into our beds.

Click here to read about the rest of our Hong Kong trip (The Peak, Madame Tussauds, Disneyland, etc.)

Photo Credits: Yza Urgel, Eliel Sarmiento, Ria Geromo