Sunday, January 20, 2008

Yatta! Hong Kong! Part 2

This is the second part of my latest trip to Hong Kong, during my last post, I went over the first day of our trip. Now let us get on with the rest of the journey.

Warning! Picture laden post!

Day 2 began real early, as we were checked into the Holiday Inn, we decided that the promo buffet breakfast was a real sweet deal. Normally breakfast on tour packages consists of set meals at predetermined fast food locations that required you to explore around a bit to locate the restaurant in question. Not really tourist friendly, but it too is a touristy thing.

Luckily if that is the package you have your friendly hotel concierge will always be ready to assist you.

Moving on, as set meals are not really that filling for the daily bodily requirements of walking and shopping, a more substantial meal was indeed a welcome sight. We normally have set breakfasts whenever we go, sometimes though we also spring for the daily in hotel breakfast buffet when affordable.

Cafe Vienna... Last time we had the breakfast buffet promo also at Cafe Vienna, and luckily the food quality remains excellent despite the almost one year gap from last time I was here.

Cafe Vienna as may be evident from the name caters its breakfast according to the American / English / Chinese menu. Toasts, teas, sausages, bratwursts, cereals, dumplings and more are usually par for the course with small specialty dishes served daily. There is also always an area that creates waffles and pancakes daily.

Here we have the behind the chef scene of the beauty that is the buffet area... The man is actually waiting for his personalized omelet to finish cooking. Cafe Vienna has several buffet areas split up on several tables / sections. Not seen is the table that caters to the cold cuts and various other raw meats like sushi, and the table that has the various many toasts / breads along with your favorite choice of fruit preserve.

Here we have a selection of hotcakes, mini French toasts as well as an egg Benedict (poached egg on ham served with half a muffin).

My breakfast for the second day; the platter with the hotcakes, egg Benedict, Frenchies and another platter with runny scrambled eggs (my favorite preparation of eggs!) bacon strips, sausage, meat dumplings, smoked salmon with lemon and finally a tall glass of chocolate milk! Phew...

After breakfast we proceeded with the agenda for the day. The second day had a day trip to China in store. We would take the train from Kowloon (the area where the hotel is) and take it to Lo Wu. There we would be able to literally cross a bridge over to China (well the border region... still China...)

Some clarifications... HK is the country you go to, but also a side of the general area, with the other side being Kowloon. Kowloon is still Hong Kong though (confusing...) just leave it that there is Hong Kong, and within Hong Kong are the Hong Kong side (business district) and Kowloon side (fun district / hotels / malls / tourists) which is where we usually were. Travelers to HK will want to be on the Kowloon side as that is a good place to start learning all there is about HK, and most the shops and malls are on that side anyway.

Continuing, the train that day was pretty bare. Hardly any passengers at all, well it was a Friday, so most everyone was at work already I'd wager.

After a forty minute train ride (uneventful.. but you get to see the pretty landscape roll by as you go) we arrive at Lo Wu and the immigration building set up to process people into or from China. Literally it 's like going through the immigration process at the airport, only you don't fly to get to your destination, you walk.

Because China has stricter regulations and is not a free port, a China Visa is required to get in. Easily obtained at a desk at the China side terminal after your passport is processed to have already left HK, it is however a troublesome process that will take about an hour or two of your time depending on the line during the time you go.

However, there was a slight snag... We were able to obtain Chinese Visas rather easily, however, when my cousin went over for her turn to get the Visa she was denied. My cousin is American you see, and there was a dispute between China and the US at the time. The Chinese denies foreigners a Visa if one was not arranged for prior to the visit.

Unable to obtain a Visa, she had to go back, I volunteered to go with her seeing as she was unfamiliar with HK and might get lost.

The folks and my sister would proceed into China for a day of shopping, while we would travel back to HK and to the hotel to go about the day going where ever we could.

The problem was further exacerbated by the fact that our passports show that we had already left HK, but did not receive the stamp that said we had arrived in China. This caused a problem with records so they had to nullify our current limbo status and make so we never left HK in the first place...

Sad to say the process ate up another hour and a half...

Very much hungry we were able to get the fixed passports and traveled back to Kowloon side and decided to get lunch ASAP!

My cousin and I decided to eat at the local McDonald's, its pretty much the same as what we have here, except their largest drinks are a little smaller compared to those here. Plus they have a few things we don't have.

The bright red box in front of the Big Mac (mine) is something they call a Big N' Tasty (my cousins'). Its like a Big Mac without the middle layer of bread and with some weird BBQ thing...

Then there's this thing, over there, McDonald's has potato wedges! Neat!

After lunch it was already past 4PM! We had a little time to go around and rest before the gang got back from China for dinner (around 9pm) so we decided to walk about the area looking for stuff to buy. As we exit the building basement where McDonald's was, I notice a sign on one of the buildings that we passed by...

Guess what? Even here the place where I work follows me... [@_@] However it's now a boutique! Remember my first post had pictures of some phallic mollusk... I think I know what they become...

Phallic sushi! I sure hope thats tuna...

The rest of the day was uneventful, and we really just went around and did a lot window shopping. Afterwards we went back to the hotel to get some rest. We were pretty tired because we have been walking for almost 7 hours already.

By the time we got back to the hotel it was already about 6 / 7 PM and my sister just called me up saying that they were already on their way back.

By around 8 they get back and we ate dinner at a small Chinese resto, I wasn't able to get any pictures seeing as I just woke up when they got back and left the camera back at the hotel.

After dinner we went back to the hotel to get some rest as tomorrow we had another early day going to one of their local equivalents of Greenhills... Stanley Market.

-------Day 3-------

Day three began a little slower than the previous days. Our feet were still a little soar from all the walking we did yesterday, and well it's not easy walking around with tender feet.

Breakfast over at the Cafe Vienna was the first thing on the agenda so we head on over for a bite.

Breakfast today had a little more Chinese dishes than yesterday and there were a few dishes in particular that I found excellent. Today I had BBQ meat buns (asado siopao), chicken teriyaki on sticks, more of those really fluffy scrambled eggs, smoked salmon again, dumplings and the coup de grace fish fillet cooked in sweet coconut curry sauce!

The fish was excellent! Just the right amount of tender flakiness offset by the sweet, creamy coconut sauce that covers its outermost layer. The fillet is prepared by charring the outer layer very slightly crisping it to a soft yet substantial brown, while the insides remain moist and tender! Yum!

I also had some mini pancakes along with a poached egg served with spinach and cream sauce.

The poached egg was also quite delectable! Not a hint of yucky spinachy flavor.

Next we were off to the station to try to get to HK side Central station. From there we would catch a bus that would go all the way to Stanley.

The train was pretty crowded today! Being a Saturday some people (a lot actually) got a day off and were probably all on this very train!

When we got to Central station on the way to the bus terminal I noticed this booth. Last time these booths were not around, and apparently these are new things over there... Anybody need to send an email?

Some popular buildings over at Hong Kong were also in plain sight near the terminal, these buildings are always shown when ads for Hong Kong run on TV and such.

This is their local bus terminal, a lot cleaner and organized than say EDSA station. Catching a bus is easy as there are strict schedules that all buses there adhere to, full or not if the bus has to go it has to go!

Over in HK, double decker buses are still very much used. These is a short line of people wanting to board the Stanley bus (its bus number 6) most of them Foreigners -_-.

It's quite the bus ride going to Stanley, about an hour (that's far by HK standards) I usually end up sleeping, but was awake to catch photos of Causeway Bay. This is their equivalent of Forbes. Only the truly filthy rich get to live in this area.

A seaside hotel built into the rock face. You can see a mountain in the background where there is a gaping hole in the front of the building. This is Feng Shui, this building allows the dragon winds to pass through, thereby ushering in prosperity for the property and its occupants (as I remember from a tour around Causeway Bay from when I was still quite the tourist back in the day, don't crucify me if I got the details wrong... hehe).

This is the entrance to Stanley Market, it's quite crowded due to the cheap goods available here. Remember as a rule of thumb, if you've got force discount ability level 3 above you should be able to get 1/4 to 1/3rd off the price... If you're good, and this also depends on the products in question.

After walking around Stanley for a while (loaded with bought items) we got hungry and decided to eat over at Deli France. We got the pasta and pizza combo which came with lemon iced tea.

The pizza was standard fare, and the pasta was also good... Needless to say that in true Deli France fashion they went rather well together.

The iced tea on the other hand was really great! The perfect refreshment for a day of traveling! Sadly they don't enjoy bottomless drinks over at Deli France and the iced tea was drained empty somewhat quickly...

After our late lunch, we decided to head back so that I and my sister and cousin could do some shopping of our own (toys... heheheh). As I said before, it's best to bide your tie and shop for small trinkets or toys during the first half of your stay. Having money to burn makes walking around HK very exciting, the possibilities of what you could buy with your cash is always a neat thing to think about while walking amidst the sea of shops.

More shots of Causeway Bay on the way back to the hotel. We decided to bypass Central Station, and just ride the bus until it passed by our hotel. It would take more time, but we were loaded with a bunch of stuff from Stanley which made negotiating the subway rather troublesome.

Here is one of the many roads in HK with a grove of trees. HK has a very pleasant climate, and trees help keep the air fresh in some areas, where other areas will constantly smell of Chinese food... honest!

When we got back, we dropped our luggage back at the hotel and proceeded to go about buying our things. We were able to get rest on the bus as it was a near hour and a half trip back to the hotel.

One more day to go!

Peace! 0_o


Sundarraj Jayaraj said...

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SiMo said...

Yeah, China is beautiful and quite historic, but I still enjoy the shopping experience that Hong Kong brings.

I was able to go to China a couple of years back. It was a relatively short experience as we really only stayed for the day.

I'd probably go back on a tour around China again only after my parents agree that we do so after I've gone and spent all my shopping money in Hong Kong first!

Good luck on that trip to China!

Peace! O_o