21.05.2010 - 23.05.2010 28 °C
As early January of 2010, we didn’t ignore the chance of grabbing the Cebu Pacific Airlines limited international seat sale , in line with the their 14th year celebration of airline services. And this time we decided to arrange for an international trip to Macau for an irresistible offer that cost only P 3,200.00, roundtrip , taxes not included. This was such a big sale compared to the regular fare. To-date Cebu Pacific still offer this promo seat sale or cheap tickets every now and then specially during off-peak periods. Who would not seize such a glamorous offer??
My officemates and myself organized to purchase these very cheap air tickets thru online bookings and got a total of 10 tickets that day. Having a flight schedule set on May 21-23, 2010 or almost four months later , who cares??? at least we have enough time of preparation and better start saving up for our pocket money or baon for the trip…
For most of my officemates, this was their first time to travel abroad and we were all excited. For me, actually this wasn’t my first time traveling abroad. I was fortunate to travel in Japan in 2002 for a training program with my boss at Yokkaichi -- sponsored by ICETT Japan aimed at preparing a conservation plan for the municipality of General Trias.
Four long months of waiting….Gheezz.. We are all eager and a bit impatient … ‘coz this was our first time to travel in a foreign country together… international level…OMG… really ??? Can’t believe this!!!
We left General Trias at 3:00 PM for our 7:00 PM flight via Cebu Pacific. We arrived at NAIA early and we checked in our baggages smoothly. But long after we enter the immigration counter, we got an order from the officer to stay on the line and hold on for a while as they were asking for our travel order. We had our TO’s ready, but they were accidentally left on one of the checked-in baggage. Whewww!!! My gosh, what a mess …. we were all held at the office until our travel order was picked out at the baggage which was already transferred at the luggage compartment of the aircraft. We waited for less than an hour, wondering if we could make it before our flight…. thanks God we checked in at the early hours, that we had still an ample time to wait. Luck must have been on our side, as the chaos was all cleared up on and whoaa… Macau here we come….!!! Yippy-ki-yay!!!
After more than two-hour trip, we arrived at the Macau International Airport. We exchanged our US dollars into patacas (MOP) and Hongkong dollars (HKD), that are widely accepted in Macau and has an almost 1:1 ratio. We then headed straight to the hotel for check in. We had booked (thru online reservations) to stay in the Best Western Hotel Taipa Macau, at about 10:00 PM. Since its almost late in the evening , and everyone seemed tired and sleepy, we were dropped off at the hotel.
The next morning , we woke up early and prepared ourselves for our hectic schedule. Its going to be a long day with our itinerary : to visit Hongkong and the Venetian Hotel throughout the night. We tried to get a bus at a fare rate of HKD 4.20 each, bound for the ferry terminal . As early as 8:30 AM , a ferry ride by New World First Ferry Services (Macau) Ltd. costing us MOP 135.00 per pax carried us to the hussle and bustle of the Kowloon Peninsula that forms the core urban area of Hongkong . Since its my first time, on board our ferry, I was a little nervous although it was kinda fun too. The sea was incredibly calm and luckily the trip only took an hour because it wasn’t a bumpy one.
It is a bit strange that we have crossed two "international borders" by traveling from Phils to Macau , then on to Hongkong . No travel visa is required when travelling to HK and Macau. For this little excursion to Hong Kong we have needed two visas and got four additional chops in our passport. It certainly gets stamps in the passport fast!
It was truly awesome to see Hongkong the first time. Hong Kong is a modern city, with highrises everywhere you look -- shops, hotels, stores, buildings, diners - much on a reclaimed land!! This is an extraordinary place to enjoy the bustling city life and fancy shopping. We were amazed by the towering skycrapers and amazing architecture that makes up this incredible city. We headed straight to the MTR, Mass Transport Railways, going to the Dragon Centre, located in the Sham Sui Po district of Kowloon. The fare is HKD 6.50. It is a 9-storey shopping center, the largest in West Kowloon. It offers quite a wide variety of brands ranging from KFC to Giordano, Bossini and the like. We had our sumptuos lunch and needless to say, we tried one of everything on the menu, that cost HKD 32.00. The meal wasn’t easy and took me a long time to finish off, taking pleasure in a meal fit for a lion.
We decided to see what else Hongkong metro has to offer, in this case we went over to Mongkok, located in the heart of Kowloon and reachable by MTR with a fare rate of HKD 5.50. The sun was hiding as the sky was showering us with light drizzle. This place is so crowded, Yes, its jam-packed with people but the sights, smells and feel of something uniquely Hong Kong is exactly what Mongkok is all about. After all, it is said to be the most densely populated area in the world. You won't doubt that once you set foot on streets like Sai Yueng Choi Street and the Ladie’s market. Even during the day, you will wonder why so many people are there. These streets are lined with stalls and shops and had a lot of stuff to offer from shoes, bags, clothes, toys to souvenir items at very low prices. You can also find all these little food eateries setting up shop in the street. Noodle soup everywhere! Plus there's always people out shopping and eating - it's a lot of fun here… Bottom line is that this whole area is abuzz with activity at all hours, ablaze with neon, lots to see and watch at all times. Since haggling and bargaining is never new on this area, we tried to haggle as low as we can for souvenir items like t-shirts, keychains, fans, bags and other stuff. Being fluent in Cantonese, I found out that most of the people do not speak English and its so difficult to buy goods.
I heard that Mongkok was busy and we decided to see for ourselves how busy the Mongkok Computer Centre was, on Nelson St/Fa Yuen St. This mall comprises of 3 floors of small shops dedicated to all things : PC, laptops, cameras, mobiles, consoles, and media accessories. Each floor was extremely overcrowded with customers and tourists just browsing among the many gadget and electrical shops. Definitely worth a visit for browsing, never mind the busy and crowded atmosphere.
Our final hours in HK sees us heading to the Tsim Sha Tsui district . It’s a quick double decker bus ride from Mongkok that cost HKD 4.50 . Half of major museums in Hong Kong are sited here such as : The Hong Kong Space Museum, Hong Kong Museum of Art and the Hong Kong Cultural Centre that are located at the southern waterfront. The Hong Kong Museum of History and Hong Kong Science Museum are situated in Tsim Sha Tsui East. The plan was then to go to see the Avenue of Stars and the Victoria Harbour. Unfortunately, we were unable to enjoy the highlights and places of interest and explore the surroundings of TST , since evidently some of the portions of the area are being renovated and was “closed for maintenance”. All was not lost as we spent the time instead, strolling, chatting, sight seeing and occassionally stopping in front of the museums for quick photo sesssions. Anyway, we are all in a hurry to catch our ferry trip back to Macau by 5:00 PM.
In summary, our marathon visit to Hongkong is all worth it, though we only have almost 9 hours to get pleasure from. Well, our fairly small time is not enough to enjoy the place and we had far too little time to explore… I wasnt able to see the other-side of the city this visit. But I wouldn’t mind coming back either seeing the Ocean Park , maybe climbing the Victoria Peak or what else… the Hongkong Disneyland..!!! All in all this was another great choice for a weekend getaway and definitely a place I would recommend to other visitors to this part of the world.
I then felt my aching feet after a hard day fancy shopping and long walking. The stroll and long walks that did provide me with some of the best views I’ve ever likely to see. I just thought I had to stretch my legs, loosen up my feet and recharge my batteries before the trip back.
BACK TO MACAU
A short ferry ride (HKD 148.00) took us back across the bay to Macau with our half-empty pockets. The ferry’s seats were like first class airline seats which would have made for a pleasant journey if the sea hadn't been so damn rough. And because it was tipping with rain , the day remained to be gloomy and once on the ferry it just got colder and darker. We were all so tired, exhausted and with a bit dizzy sensation, we slept like a baby for the rest of the journey. The trip took about another 1 hour and passed through some rough waves. We arrived at the ferry terminal after a very choppy and bouncy trip…
We took a bus ride on the way back to the hotel. Since almost everyone was hungry, we popped into a resto nearby for a greasy spoon of dinner . We treated ourselves to an amazing dinner, and this time a taste of Chinese - Portuguese dishes combined, ... Hmmm.. our stomachs were all full up indeed..!!!
We went back at the hotel and refreshed. After an hour of rest, we headed straight to the nearest taxi stand , hired 3 taxis to accommodate us and made our way to the Venetian Hotel and Resort. The hotel was so amazing and this is simply the best hotel that I’ve ever seen. We headed upstairs to the mall which was an incredible experience. The shops are spread along an artificial Venetian Canal, complete with Macanese Gondoliers singing Italian Arias. There was a very realistic sky painted on the ceiling and for just a moment we thought we were in Vegas! or is it Venice???? Who knows? We made a stroll along the Grand Canal Shoppes. It is a huge shopping paradise with elegant signature and designer shops, thus providing the most unique shopping experience in South East Asia!
We made sure we can resist the tempt of going to the casino (due to a tight budget, lolz..) as tourists flocked here to try their luck. We just watched . Eventhough we did’nt hit the casinos, I heard that Macau is making more money through gambling than Las Vegas, The Macau casinos look astounding and this place is the Las Vegas of Asia and quickly overtaking it as the gambling capital of the world. We just spent our time strolling and wandering around the shops, took pictures and we then headed back to our hotel. Since we were all tired and drowsy, we laid our heads and have a good night’s rest after a very hectic and tiring day…. Goodnight….
Despite the late night, we made a concerted effort to get up at a reasonable time the next day . We had our breakfast of some noodles, coffee , bread, bicuits and fruits.. Then we decided to walk around the vicinity and visit some stores near our hotel . We managed to consume our time here just walking around and shopping for some items for our pasalubong like Macau candies, chocolates, fruits like cherries, persimmon and some stuff.
We went back to the hotel at around 10 AM and headed out for the day’s tour. We visited Taipa’s Flea Market around Bombeiros Square in the heart of the old village. We made a stop at one of the food souvenir shop , at Choi Heong Yuen Bakery-Macau. Samples are available in trays inside the shop – feel free to try their almond cookies or sample some of their beef jerky. We got home some delicacies where Macau is kown for i.e. egg tarts, almond cookies, chess cookies, dried meats, beef jerky and other chinese pastries. For lunch, we decided to buy packed luch at a grocery store in Taipa area. We had a quick bite to eat at a park nearby and noticed some Filipinos here spending their day-offs .
After our luch, we went in search of a Bus 33 bound for our next destination, the Ruins of St. Paul. It is located in the northern part of the Senado Square, leading to Happiness Street or the food street. It is a very narrow street surrounded by buildings and lots of food tastings along the way. Sample every food you want at Pastelaria Koi Kei - Macau’s largest bakery, from cookies, tarts , beef jerky, candies and the like. At the end of the narrow streets youll find the Ruins of St. Paul. Located near the heart of the city, it is the most visited site both by tourists and locals , and this place is always crowded as a main tourist attraction. It is used to be a church of the Mother of God, but a fire burned it to the ground, leaving only the façade, the staircase and portions of a wall. It remained unchanged until a restoration was undertaken and completed in the summer of 1991. The ruins’ facade of the original building was in itself -- still quite stunning and worth seeing.
Besides, this is a good place to browse among shops selling jewelries , ornaments souvenir items, clothes, food stuff, porcelains etc. We made some quick photo sessions and souvenir items shopping. A jewelry store caught my eye and lightened my wallet once more. The store was having a sale that awaits me and I rewarded myself with a 2-toned bangle , at a bargain price of MOP 199.00 Not Bad !!
We spent the rest of the day wandering around the Senado Square or Largo de Senado. It is a cobblestoned street and the place had a European feel to it , with its architecture, jazzy paved floor , Portugues pavement and modern clothes shops. The Portuguese-inspired buildings were preserved which added to the charm of the place, teeming with tourists. The Portugese influence in Macau was very evident. We wanted time to wander, shop, take pictures and just see. We all looked into buying some assorted colors Bossini shirts for each and everyone of us at very reasonable prices, almost half of its original price. I eagerly purchased five (5) pieces of Hang Ten shirts at a bargain price for my pasalubong .
For an early dinner we decided to go to the New Yaohan Dept Store. It is a vast and spacious store , offering wide range of collection of brand names, luxury brands and designer’s label of clothing, perfumes and cosmetics, grocery, sports house and food plaza. We ate in the store’s decent food court, located at the top level and enjoyed our chinese food, the most common cuisine here. . We left the store at around 5:30 PM and headed back to the hotel. We fixed our things, checked out and hired 3 taxis to the airport that cost HKD 33.00 each.
We went thru the immigration , waited and chilled out at the airport lounge for our flight back home at 7:30 PM. The flight is almost 2 hours as we tried to get some sleep. After a rather smooth and incredibly fast landing we safely touched down in NAIA . We reached home safe and sound at around 11:PM. Finally, we’re home…….
Our time was up in Macau - and what a way to end it up !!!! This place is beyond doubt, a must-see and is a great place to enjoy and let loose. To end with, our Macau-Hongkong trip was just ….absolutely perfect…. definitely another experience worth jumping in joy for !!!
Why not try it ?????