Monday, May 28, 2012

Travelog: Day 1 - I ♥ HK [21/5/2012]

Updated September 2015: Ocean Park now offers Halal food at Lakeside Snacks featuring Asian cuisines which are all certified by the Incorporated Trustees of the Islamic Community Fund of Hong Kong. Click here for more info. 

Thanks to online deal, I finally can go to Hong Kong without having to fork out as many dollars as what I had planned initially. Yea! It's been cut down to almost fifty percent! Woooohooooo! When I saw the deal from Apple Holidays: $88 per pax for a 4D3N, without hesitation I bought two vouchers :) However, afterwards I realized I should have read the fine prints carefully, there are surcharges of $40 per pax for dates traveled from Feb to June 2012. Hmm..takpe la..Allah knows best.

Voucher includes Return Airport Transfer, 3N stays at Rambler Garden Hotel and a complimentary of half day city tour.  

After long-wait of several months, we are going to HONG KONG! (at first my companion supposed to be kak Noorul but as her night class is still ongoing so my lil sister accompany me instead)...every seconds counts and not wanting to miss any of it, I've booked the earliest flight to Hong Kong hehe.

Everyone in the family including tiny-tot Aisha, dropped by Singapore Airport Budget Terminal at 4.45 in the morning! We thought we are the earliest but the queue for Tiger Airways is soooo long! Masya Allah, pukul berapa agaknya mereka sampai ye :p After settling everything, we gathered for a while at Hanis Cafe & Bakery. Kalau keluarga Encik Pendi tak makan memang tak sah hehe ^^

My first choice of airline was Jetstar but they cancelled my morning flight. Luckily Tiger Airways have an early departure.
Alhamdulillah, we arrive at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) and cleared the immigration without any hitch. Bought the Octopus Card [HK$150] at the Airport Express counter, this card can be use on most transportation around Hong Kong includes some of the cabs. It can also double-up as purchase payments at 7-eleven's stores and many more. Value inside the card is HK$100 while the refundable HK$50 is also a deposit which covers HK$30 card cost...lebih kurang sama macam ez-link kita ;)

While waiting for representatives from Asian Links Holiday, we sent news to home thru whatsapp using HKIA wireless network. We also hop by 1010 - a telecommunication shop for network 3, buying the Traveller Prepaid Mobile Broadband for unlimited internet access for 7 days and HS Travel to purchase the iVenture Card - See Hong Kong Pass 1D Unlimited [HK$399] More details of the card on day 2.

Love how nature and building merged together.
Asian Links Holiday's airport transfer coach reached Rambler Garden Hotel around 12+ and yes, our room is not ready yet. So we have to wait for approximately an hour more. Anyway this gave us plenty of time to explore the Rambler Plaza, four-levels below. It has a supermart, 7-eleven, Japan Home, Watson's and several not-so-important shops heheh :p We went to 7-eleven and the supermart for tidbits, biscuits, instant cup noodle (very excited when we found IndoMie Cup Noodle! Macam tak pernah makan gitu) and bottled water. Both store has a HK$50 policy if you requires a plastic bag. Oh yeah, the supermart's cashier spoke no English and perpetually saying in Cantonese even when she had seen our 'huh?' faces. 
Read my review on Rambler Garden Hotel here.

View from our room.
At 1.30pm, we proceed to our room at level 25! Wooweee! Never I have stayed in a room this high! As everybody said about Hong Kong restricted land and space, the room is pigeon-holey small yet comfortable and clean. Don't bother to watch the tv. It's the old bulky, grainy screen version with plenty of cantonese-speaking channels and measly two english forever-news-everytime-we-switched-it-on channel - Arirang and NHK World. Yg best sekali is the toilet - there is NO LOCK! Nasib baik ada pintu :p

After solat, touch-up, shi-shi and all, our itinerary begins! Took a mini-bus from the residences bus stop (there's a residential area behind the hotel) 88F to Tsing Yi MTR Station. Flat fee of HK$3.20, takes around 5-7 minutes. Everything went well and no culture shock yet but after arriving at Hong Kong MTR Station, we have to transfer to Central MTR, masya Allah, the walking distance is very very long! Go up..walk straight..turn right...turn into corner..straight again...turn again...hah! my leg became jelly when we arrived :p

The loooooooong transit to another line!
Alighting at Admiralty Station, cross the street to CityBus Station to Ocean Park. Take CTB 629. It is an express route from here to Ocean Park's entrance, easy right ;) It took only 25 minutes journey and cost HK$10.60 per trip.

Ocean Park gerek!!! Separated into two parts: The Waterfront & The Summit. Straight away we went to the Summit first as the ticketing lady said it closed at 6.30pm and the clock is ticking fast! Yikes! Two ways to go up there: via Cable Car or Ocean Express. Both ways are unique on its own. For the cable car - acrophobia might need to think twice before stepping inside the small cabin (unexpectedly can fits 6 people inside!) We were hanging above the sea and swaying precariously when the wind blows hard.  It goes up, down and up and down, fun and very your heart! Ocean Express is actually a regular train but they hyped it with tinted window and videos of fishes swimming around above your head and the sound of waves activate your senses, feels like you are under the ocean.

Other attractions on the Summit includes dare-devil machinery like roller coaster, vikings, thingy that goes up then plumes down faster than ever etc. There's a jelly fish exhibition somewhere but we couldn't find it so we watched the dolphins and sea lions show (in Cantonese and minimal English) at the Ocean Theater. Behold the two Giant Panda; Ying Ying & Le Le..who were sleeping when we were there! Luckily, Mr Fox in front of it was active and busy chewing his dinner. Lack of time unable us to discover more of Ocean Park. Our last stop was the Grand Aquarium. Had fun at the souvenir shop, entertaining ourselves with the exclusive merchandise. The Aquarium itself contains plenty of sea creatures but due to our little knowledge on fishes and marines, it bore us a bit..heheh

Back to Admiralty and continue to Wan Chai district for dinner! Yeah! Da lapar sangat ni. Tired and hungry, eventually we just went to the newly opened Oh's Food when we stumbled upon it while looking for a kebab shop. The restaurant was at 11th floor...kekeke..quite funny to us, never been to a small restaurant at such height and in a building full of offices and beauty salons. Theme of the menu is Arabian food; we ordered Hummus with Flat Bread, Lamb with Rice (THE most delicious!) and Grilled Fish with Chips. The prices are reasonable too!

With full rounded belly (Alhamdulillah,kenyang banget!) we took MTR again, this time to Mongkok! Walking distances from MTR station to the Ladies Market - Pasar Malam of Hong Kong, concentrated on ladies' fashion and accessories. There are plenty of souvenir shops too. We bought T-shirts of I ♥ HK and few other designs, cutesy Chinese dessert key chains and leather bound book engraved with Chinese junk. The price was quite steep, maybe just because we're tourist (shrug, wallahua'lam) 

PS - Don't try to haggle with them if you don't really want to buy, they will pester and pester you! But if you really like the item, haggle as low as you can, who knows you might get lucky :)

We finished rounding the Ladies Market at nearly eleven. I'm not worried as I have checked the Minibus website stating that the bus service ends at 12 midnight. As Mongkok station is near to Kwai Fong, I decided to alight there. There is another minibus (88G) that we can take to our hotel BUT when we arrive there, there is NO buses available! The bus service has ended for the night. Fine! Let's take a cab then since there is a line of it waiting nearby. As far as I know, my English is not perfect but good enough to be understand. Here, the cab driver not only do not understand what I'm saying but refuse to send us back to hotel, even after we show him the name and map (we googled it on the spot) of the hotel. It was in English by the way. I was so frustrated, I accidentally banged the cab door harder than I wanted to. Sorry uncle!

Okay, the heck are we going back? Blindly we took the train back to Tsing Yi (thank God it is just a few stations away) and pray to Allah that the bus there still available. And Yes! Alhamdulillah! There is; the last bus for the day and the time is 11.30pm. Lesson learnt. Don't believe 100% what you've read on the web even if it is the official website! And don't expect people to comprehend if you're not speaking in Cantonese, Mandarin or English-infused-with-Chinese-slang.  

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