Hong Kong 2011

Day 1

Landing at the Airport, the skies look misty and foggy. We had to alight on the taxiiway and take an Airport bus to the terminal. That was quite cool.
The Airport is pretty accessible like ours, with an express train to town and many public buses. We bought an octupus card, their ezlink equivalent, and took a bus to Taipo, my friend’s house. Speaking about buses, they use mostly double deckers, with the same Volvo engine as us. But their inferior built is nicer than SBST, with headrests on seats and wider/straighter stairwells for the newer buses. Even the aircon thing is the same. But they have widescreen tvs and some use digital LEDs to show the next bus stop in Chinese characters. Also, their wheelchair thing is between the front and back door on the left side. And no need to tap card on exit.
We travelled through 2 suspension bridges and reached Tai Po, a new town in the new territories. My friend’s house is actually a HUDC kinda thing. It looks pretty nice outside, the other blocks opposite look slightly older with older windows. There are a number of nice playgrounds and a multi storey carpark like ours. They have a security gate and guard at the lobby, and the 3 lifts serve different sets of floors. The different thing is that the lift corridors are very enclosed and tight, no place to put plants, no opening to look outside. Quite glommy. The house itself, is very small, it has 2 bedrooms, one tiny kitchen, living room and a toilet. Its about the size of our HDB 3-room flat, however the bedroom is really really small. Enough space for a queen bed and closet, no walking area or table.
Later we walked around the neighbourhood centre, which is somewhat like a heartland bras basah complex. It has a wet market, shops, food, supermarket and even a McDonald’s. It feels like Singapore, with many heartlanders and elderly playing chess nearby. A free feeder bus goes to the MTR station, maybe we should have that too. We had our first Yam cha, but wasn’t that fantastic.
After lunch, we took a short walk to the train station. The town centre is much like ours: bus interchange, shopping mall, Starbucks, and flats. We took the East rail line (sounds like Israel) to Mongkok East to shop. There were 12 carriages (!) and even a quiet car and first class compartment with cushion seats. Quite cool! The trains interior look pretty similar, though they have news TVs around. Well even the train symbols, map colours are the same. After all, our MRT copied their MTR, especially the lighted station thingy above the train doors. At Mongkok,  We started from flower market to goldfish/pets street and to ladies’ street. The town area is pretty crowded for a weekday late afternoon. Most of the apartment buildings look pretty old and torn,with no new paint or new windows. The contrast is even more at nathan road at night. The bright billbards and shops make it look like orchard or times square for the street level. But the upper level seems to be stuck in time for the last 30 years. For once I appreciate the PAP for constantly upgrading our flats, roads and buildings.  I would say Singapore’s heartlands and town look more modern and well kept.
Ladies st is like a long congested bugis with many tents selling all kinds of accessories. Goldfish st sells many fishes and pets. We saw many cute tiny poodles, puppies and kittens! Of course, food is abundant. How can one not try smelly toufu? Haha. It wasn’t that smelly upon eating. There was also gong cha and various other food and drinks as well.
At night, we walked to Temple street, which is another night market, and an area that sells sex toys. Yea openly like a pasar malam. We walked around, saw some seafood chilli crabs which probably cannot beat ours, and we ate a nice claypot rice dinner. HK people have a tradition of rinising your utensils with hot water or tea. It was quite funny. The Claypot rice with beef, chicken Chinese sausage was awesome. And they have this deep fried duck egg oyster thing whic tastes really cool, like a different variation of Au Rua.
Day 2

The second morning we ate a nice hk fast food cafe style breakfast, which serves western and fusion and Chinese sets. Scrambled egg and sausage patty. We took the feeder bus and the MTR to Hung Hom and transferred to a bus to Ocean Park. We decided to jump straight to the rides. I think the best rides were the abyss drop, and the flash claw thingy. The roller coaster is so-so, can’t be compared to six flags. Haha but fortunately the queue was quite little and we actually took it twice and managed to sit in front. The spacewheel was horrible, the centrifugal force causes dizziness and headache. I’ll always remember taking the Abyss Drop when I was very young, and I thought it was a stress relieving machine because it allows you to scream your hearts out. Now I think the free falling feeling is liberating, like your heart in your mouth, making you weightless.
In the evening, we had a late dinner at a neighbourhood hawker noodle stall. Original HK beef brisket noodles, best eaten with red vinegar and home made soya bean drink. The best part of their noodles is that you can mix one meat with other forms such as dumplings.
Day 3

The third day we walked to the tai po town centre hawker centre and market, built by the food and hygiene department. It looks very much like a Singapore wet market, just that it is much larger and is air conditioned. They have much more variety of seafood, abalone, lobsters and even live chickens. At the hawker centre, it was pretty crowded, and we ate Chinese Cantonese porridge with pork spare parts. Their you tiao (fried dough) is quite special, they put a layer of chee chiong fun skin around it. Best eaten with seasame and (Yong tau foo) sweet sauce. And I drank this weird coffee red bean drink.
We took a train to Sheung Wan, walked around the western market, which is an upclass tourist thingy. We then took the double decker traditional tram to Central. The tram is like a double decker version of the SF streetcar, and the ancient feel is very cool and it costs only like <S$0.40 to ride. At Central, we walked through a narrow pushcarts street, before making a huge detour in H&M, in which the guys actually took longer to shop than the girls for the first time! Lol. We walked up the central midlevels travelator, the longest ones in the world. We then walked to the old school ‘bing stutt’ Starbucks at Dundell St. It is a Starbucks trying to be an old school Chinese coffeeshop with wooden chairs and Chinese menus. Quite cool and fusion. And they even sell HK’s polo bun with butter. Haha. And again, we skipped lunch just like the previous day. Not good.
We walked up the battery path to St. John’s cathedral, and then joined the super long queue for the peak tram. It took us like 1.5 hours before we were on it! There were so many foreigners who seem more kiasu than us, rushing and snatching for the seats. The crowd is quite scary. The tram is like the SF cable car, but longer with 2 carriages and wider with seats horizontally. The slopes are even steeper though, about 50 degrees and if you are standing, you’ve to balance quite a big. Feels like pirate ship haha. At the peak, we went up to the sky terrace which is super crowded. The view is amazing though, nice cooling wind, awesome night skyline, much better than MBS or flyer. Can really see how much more crowded HK is, with so many flats and buildings so close to one another.
After that I went to meet canny at Causeway Bay! Due to the long peak tram queue I could only meet her at 9.30pm for dinner at a cha chan ting, which has many fusion food like Malaysia, Singapore, western etc.  Their specialty is their crispy bun which goes well with condensed milk. Canny also brought us to buy HK dang sui dessert, and we took an express mini bus that goes expressway direct back to our place. The express mini bus can only sit 16 people, and is pretty cool cos it has a speedometer to show how fast the driver is speeding, up to 80kmh on the mountain roads, almost like Initial D lol.
Day 4

We woke up early in the morning to go to Kowloon City Vineyard Church at the Australian Int’l School where Jackie Pullinger is. It was a bilinguial fellowship, with about 400 people in a school hall. They worshipped alternating in Cantonese and English, while preaching was translated line by line. It was quite cool to sing the songs Iike Above  All in Cantonese using Chinese characters and pronounciation spellings. The worship was long and informal with many silent breaks and prayers in between. The testimony section was very detailed, with 3 people giving an account of their mission trip in Vietnam which food was multiplied like how Jesus broke bread. Later, we thought there was no preaching, but Jackie preached a short word on rejecting insults and putting on the shield of faith in the mission field, and not be man-pleasing but God-pleasing. After the service, we managed to catch her to take a pic before she rushed off. She said, oh Singaporeans and their pictures! Lol. One of her members, who is the same age as my Dad, shared with us many testimonies which Jackie and her ministry has affected his life. Amazing stuff, because speaking in tongues delivered them out of drugs.
After lunch, we took a ferry to Lamma Island, which is a like a larger and more hilly version of Ubin. There was a small row of shophouses in the village near the jetty where they sell seafood. We started the hike up the grasshills and were rewarded with views of the Hongkong Harbour and the deep blue Pacific Ocean and the horizon. Haven’t seen the Pacific since Santa Cruz! The view reminds me of how much more awesome Point Reyes is. There was a sandy off road path up the hill to a few tombs, we explored it, thinking that we will reach the peak, but there was another higher peak! Too bad we don’t have enough time haha. There’s also an refinery industrial thingy and a wind turbine on the island. The other village was livelier, with a few pubs filled with Ang Mohs hanging out, and many small shops selling souvenirs and stuff. Looks like there’s some gentrification in here.
We went causeway bay again for dinner at some Shanghai place, shopped around before going back.
Day 5

We took ferry to Macau, walked around the Sands casino, then went to the historic centre of Macau at Senado Square. I like the place, it’s a nice fusion of European (Portugese) architecture and Chinese culture, albeit a little touristy. It was very crowded, and the buildings are filled with shops selling pastries, almond cakes, bak kwa, and of course, Portugese egg tarts! They are very smart cos most major fashion brands are in the area. Amongst the small alleys there are various Chinese shops amongst apartment blocks, with locals playing their daily mahjong. The Christian area consists of a few old Catholic churches, a square, and the famous Ruins of St. Paul’s. Later, each of us bought different variations of almond cookies from Koi Hei, and we walked along the Avenue to take the free shuttle bus to Venetian.
We saw a very grand and shiny golden hotel, thought that it’s ours, but it’s actually the Galaxy, a new development. Very beautiful. We reached the back gate of the hotel on the Cotai Strip. The strip is trying quite hard to look like Las Vegas but don’t have enough vibe on the streets yet.
After checking in, we had an expensive hotel buffet with seafood, dim sum, Indian and desserts. We also walked around the Grand Canal Shoppes. Somehow I thought there seem to be more shops than the Las Vegas one, but I can’t remember how big the latter is. We took lots of photos of the nice architecture, my friends kept commenting how real the sky looks, although it doesn’t move. I think this Venetian is as good as the one in Vegas. The lighting was also quite interesting, it looks amazingly like daytime for most of it, except for St. Mark’s Square in which the lights were dimmed to simulate nightlife. Pretty cool. Our hotel suite was luxurious, two queen beds, a sofa area, two TVs, a large bathroom with a separate section for the w.c. All the knobs and taps are gold in colour, looks very grand. Awesome hotel stay for a night!
Day 6

We woke up later and enjoyed the comfy bed. After breakfast, we tried Lord’s Stow egg tarts, which is slightly charred and tasted really delicious. We shopped around, checked out, and took more photos. We ate the famous Macau pork chop bun, which is like a huge piece of pork chop with the bones in a softer version of the Delifrance bread, very interesting. We took the ferry back and had a steamboat dinner at a new town which looks like an older version of Sengkang with light rail trains on the streets. As usual, there’s playgrounds everywhere, an aircon markets, multistorey carparks etc. Just that their lift lobbies have a security.
Day 7

Today is shopping day again. We had an awesome Yam cha dim sum lunch at a restaurant in Dragon Centre at Sham Shui Po. We ordered a lot of dishes almost like a buffet and yet it only costs S$14 per person. The custard egg yolk bun is the most unique sweet creamy bao I ever ate. Later, I went to the Golden Computer Arcade, which is like a very tight compact version of Sim Lim Sq with many many small shops selling various computer accessories. They seem more competitive than in sg, and they have much more stuff. Many iPhone cases and parallel imported ipad2s. Quite interesting to also see the wide variety of tablet competitors on show too.
We walked down Apliu Street market, which sells gadgets and stuff like batteries and torches and binoculars, before going Mongkok to look at shoes along the street next to Ladies, and also to Mongkok Computer Centre. We bought famous Wife’s biscuits and ate some street snacks, and the Taiwanese sharetea bubble tea is pretty good! In the evening, we went down to Tsim Sha Shui to catch the Symphony of Lights at Avenue of the stars, where Canny and Billy met me! The light show is quite disappointing, no fireworks = not sl spectacular. Yes they synchronise with the music, but just seems like random laser beams and spotlights into the sky. Even my HK friend say they never bothered to see it before. However, I must say that the HK skyline and harbour is quite an amazing view, more beautiful and varied and taller and brighter and more colourful than our boring Marina Bay.
We went to a Wanton noodle place for dinner, and we went next door for some egg-milk pudding and scrambled eggs. The waiters are really fast and gan chiong, they want to take your orders quickly, serve you immediately, and then chase you away lol. Later, we went to a upmarket Lam Chong shopping mall in Mongkok, and there was a nice bus model shop which sells all the buses of KMB and citybus and all the Volvos. Very very nice collectibles! I am a bus enthusiast but not that hardcore. But I love trains so I bought a cute MTR stapler haha. We drank some mango at Hui Lao Shan, a popular mango dessert stall which is like everywhere.
Day 8
Breakfast for the last day was a set meal at a Cha Chan Ting, which includes noodles, toast, egg, and a drink. That’s quite a meal! And its only like S$5+, very worth it. Tb and I went to the HK railway museum, which showcases the history of the Kowloon-Canton railway and its merger with the MTR. On the tracks are the old first second third class carriages of the old intercity trains, when they were still run by diesel, and also an old narrow gauge steam engine. Didn’t I say I love trains? So anything locomotive and rail is a must see. Haha. We walked along the Fu Shin St market before taking the train to Kowloon Walked City park. What remains of the demolished city is only the middle temple-looking  building called the Yamen. It shows various exhibits of how conditions were like in the tight drug filled City. The rest of the park looks like Chinese Garden, with some excavated remains of the gates. If only there’s still one block of the walled city which its narrow alleys and rooms, that’s be super cool. We went for one last round of shopping and random walking at Mongkok. I discovered some cute toys and a mall which sells all kinds of second hand phones and accessories, and many many more sets of parallel imported ipad2s. They were like everywhere! While the official stocks are sold out! Bought some century egg pastry thing before going home, on first class MTR haha.
At the airport, we ate some Macau/Portuguese Style Baked Rice with some cheesy coconut sauce on top. Quite interesting. And we went into the departure gates at 7.55pm, thinking we are still on time for our 8.30pm. Little did we know that all the gates are in T1, and we had to take a skytrain from T2 and ran all the way to our departure gate! At the gate, there’s an airport bus with everyone inside waiting for us! We reached the plane at 8.25pm. So scary, almost missed our flight.
On the whole, it was a simple enjoyable trip, doing various things which one won’t do in a tour group, and again self-planning is fun. Although there were some anything-lah when we decide where to go, it was still all good. Still, I think America is more interesting since most of HK is similar to HK. Looking forward!