2019 Trip to Hong Kong: A Harry Potter Fan’s Happy Place

“Always.” – Severus Snape (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)

Once a Harry Potter fan, forever a fan. I knew it the moment I opened the first book of the series 18 years ago. The moment I read the first chapter, I knew Harry Potter would be a part of my life forever. While I did not mean that I would have rooms with wallpapers of the brick walls of Diagon Alley or have every Harry Potter merchandise a part of my collection, I knew it was going to have a strong influence on me.

So, when my sister, Kristine, told me last December that there was a Harry Potter shop in Causeway Bay where she would buy herself some merch, I knew I had to make it a part of my March 2019 trip itinerary. There was no way I was missing a Harry Potter experience on a vacation.

Founded in 2007, Museum CONTEXT was known for quality retro home decors and gift ideas. From Edinburgh, it was brought to Hong Kong in 2011. By 2018, it opened a store in Causeway Bay, where Kristine went. Museum CONTEXT sells officially licensed Harry Potter merchandise from wands to robes, from quills to notebooks, from time turners to deluminators, and so much more! For more information about Museum CONTEXT, please visit their website.

From Wong Tai Sin to Causeway Bay

After our fortune-telling and temple experience at Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple (read about it here), Jana and I traveled all the way to Causeway Bay to meet up Kristine for her dinner treat. Thankfully, the MTR station at Wong Tai Sin was just beside the temple, so we did not have to walk very far since it started to drizzle after our fortunes were interpreted by a soothsayer.

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This screenshot was obtained from http://www.mtr.com.hk/archive/en/services/routemap.pdf

From Wong Tai Sin MTR, we rode the train back to Mong Kok, where we alighted to transfer to the Tsuen Wan Line. We rode the train heading for Admiralty Station and alighted there to transfer to the Island Line. From Admiralty, Causeway Bay was just two train stops away. We chose to get out via the Hysan Place exit.

At Hysan Place, Jana and I rested first and bought drinks from Pacific Coffee. I was trying to figure out how much time we had left before we had to meet Kristine, trying to see if there was still sufficient time to find where Museum CONTEXT was. According to my sister, it was in one of the inner streets and Google Maps was not helping much with the directions.

I thought of postponing the trip to the store and to just enjoy Hysan Place first. We roamed around the mall and enjoyed the Line Friends displays that they had.

Finding Musem CONTEXT

img_1418Kristine sent a message that it might take a couple more minutes for her to arrive at Hysan Place, so I decided to bring Jana to the nearby SaSa store. In the process of doing so, we accidentally discovered where Musem CONTEXT was.

From Hysan Place, go to the ground floor and take the exit closes to Lululemon. Straight ahead (technically a tiny, tiny bit to the left), there was an Innisfree store. A little more forward were SaSa and Watsons. Where those shops were was Yun Ping Road. Just go straight and head towards the corner of Pak Sha Street. Look up and there you have it! Museum CONTEXT!

We took the stairs to the first floor and saw the posters of Harry and Sirius right away. I could only wish they moved just like in the movies.

The store attendant came back from the washroom and opened the door to a magical place that gave a Diagon Alley vibe. I wasn’t looking into buying anything in particular,  but my eyes feasted on every single merchandise that they had. Check out the slideshow below to see some of them.

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I ended up not buying anything. I just practically just window-shopped with Jana here. I guess, it happens when you want everything and cannot decide which one to get first.

Caught By Surprise at the Airport

I was a little bit regretting that I did not get anything from the store. I wanted to have something as a souvenir of some sort. We were already at the airport when all these thoughts were running through my head.

Imagine my surprise when I saw a Museum CONTEXT pop-up store at the Departure Area, close to our check-in counter! I could not believe my eyes and immediately reported it to my sister. Apparently, it was only newly opened that month, explaining why she was not aware of it. She ordered me to get myself and Jana chocolate frogs. I gladly obeyed.

I got a Helga Hufflepuff card! She’s my idol for making magic happen in the kitchen.

I was so happy about this discovery! I hope you find the time to check out Museum CONTEXT shops in Hong Kong when you visit.

If you’re interested to read about my other adventures in Hong Kong here.

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2019 Trip to Hong Kong: WiFi Rental and Bus Ride

img_2859So you’re finally in Hong Kong. The internet connection from the airport’s WiFi service is superb! You already have your Octopus card loaded and may have had taken your first meal at the airport.

You suddenly realize that you need an internet connection when you leave so you can use apps on your phone like those for maps. However, getting a local SIM card is not possible because your phone is locked to accept only SIM cards from your service provider in your country. What do you do?

Rent a portable WiFi device from the airport!

Truthfully, I already anticipated the need to get one as soon as I booked my flight to Hong Kong. With the help of Klook, I was able to get a list of packages that I could avail to get internet connection in HK. There were some I can have delivered to me in Manila, but there were some that I can just pick up from HKIA. I opted to go for the latter because I did not want to have to worry if I was going to get my device on time before I flew to HK. Also, the ones for pick up at HKIA were cheaper.

img_2824I settled for the package from Song WiFi. The package I got was only for a total of Php 696 for 4 days (Php 174 per day)! With coverage area spanning Hong Kong, Macau and Mainland China, this device that allowed up to five other devices to connect to it to make use of its unlimited data (at 4G speed) was a steal! The best part? There are no deposits required, allowing you to use all your available funds for your adventures!

The type of kit I got came with a protective case to keep together all the items for our seamless WiFi experience. We got the WiFi device, a charging cable, an adapter, and the USB charging hub that allowed four gadgets to be charged simultaneously.

If I had known, I would not have bought a travel adapter before my flight and could have saved Php 200 in the process. Oh well, at least I know now that renting from Song WiFi saves me a lot of worries other than just having an internet connection.

img_2858The battery did not drain fast and we had a fast and reliable internet connection throughout our travel. I did notice its service becoming sporadic in some parts of Disneyland (particularly in Adventure Land). Thankfully, Disneyland has awesome free WiFi service so I turned off this device and used it again when we were going home already.

You can pick up your device from Counter A05 at the Arrival Hall A of Terminal 1. The personnel at the counter were nice and the lady assigned to us taught us how to use the device. We had to wait ten minutes for the device to be useable. I think they still had to activate it or something. For more details, you may check out Klook or Song WiFi’s global website.

Now that we had our business done at the airport, we went to look for the airport bus terminal to get roundtrip bus tickets from Cityflyer. The roundtrip tickets cost only HKD55 (roughly Php 358). img_3131If we took the Airport Express Train, the roundtrip cost would have been HKD 185 (roughly Php 1,203). If we booked via Klook, we could have gotten it at just Php 804. Still, the bus was the cheapest deal. I also wanted Jana to experience riding the upper deck of the airport bus.

When you get your tickets, make sure to split the ticket in half, ripping along the perforated lines. DO NOT lose your return ticket so keep it secure in your wallet or cellphone case. When you ride the bus, just drop it at the designated coin and ticket collection box near the driver’s seat.

After dropping our tickets, we placed our luggage on the designated area and went up to the upper deck of the bus. I made sure to sit where we could see the monitor with a view of your luggage.

It’s pretty safe in Hong Kong. The monitor just allows you to see whether your luggage has toppled over or if someone accidentally picked yours up by mistake. I did not have to stay glued to the screen as I felt pretty much secure that our bags and suitcases will not be lost.

By the way, the best route to take when going to Kowloon is the A21 bus route. Still, kindly research your destination to know the best bus route to take. I just happened to read that the A21 bus will allow you to see more attractions along the way once you have entered Kowloon.

img_2849On the way back to the airport, we had to line up and wait for another A21 bus. Unfortunately, the bus was already full (seats and luggage compartment). So, we had to just support our suitcases on our own.

Jana, amazing as usual with her superb balancing skills, sat on top of her suitcase. Despite the wild rollercoaster ride to the airport (the driver drove like he was in such a hurry), she was very much at ease in her spot. I, on the other hand, had to hold on to the posts, with one hand holding another person’s suitcase handle to keep it from toppling over and sending the small suitcases flying to the other passengers.

The rides from and to the airport both took around 30 to 40 minutes. Not bad. If we took the train, we would have paid much higher for a much quicker ride. Since we were not in such a hurry, I still think taking the bus was a good choice. Maybe, next time, we’ll just try to find a less full bus to the airport.

That’s it for WiFi and airport bus experiences! Please stay tuned for more of our adventures in Hong Kong this year.

If you want to learn more about the airport bus routes, you may want to visit the Citybus website. They also have an app that you can download from the App Store or from Google Play. The app is very convenient as it can help you find not only the best airport bus route but also bus routes throughout Hong Kong. It can also give you the estimated arrival time of the next bus and can suggest what buses to take by just typing in your location and destination.

If you want to read more on my previous travels to Hong Kong, please click here.

2019 Trip to Hong Kong: The Flight

“All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.” ― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Finally! March of 2019 came. This trip to Hong Kong with my awesome friend, Jana, was almost a year in the making. I booked the trip way back in November of last year and made sure to file my leaves ahead of time.

The events leading up to our flight was not smooth at all. For some reason, I was so stressed out and was uneasy. To add to that, I almost terribly damaged my eye in the process.

You see, I bought contact lenses to wear during our travel because I wanted to look nicer in our photos. I bought my pair from one of the more accessible optical shops. When I tried to wear them two days before my flight though, my right eye started to feel terribly irritated. Lubricating felt like my eyeball was on fire and ordinary eye drops to refresh my eyes felt the same thing. I could not see any scratch and could not remember getting something in my eye before it suddenly felt so dry that I had to drop on some lubricant.

The following day, my eye was still a little bit pink (a sign it’s still irritated) and eye drops still made my eyeball feel on fire. I immediately contacted our family’s ophthalmologist and was advised to have it checked just to be sure. However, since I could not go to his clinic, I opted to go to another doctor in the hospital near my office. I told my original eye doctor what I was prescribed, and he did not seem to have any problem with the anti-inflammatory drops I was asked to use. He did tell me to visit his clinic soon when I got back.

img_1300On the day of the flight, I was still uneasy. I cannot understand why. Maybe it was because it was going to be my first time to travel to Hong Kong without my sister picking me up from the airport. I was also feeling responsible for my friend who was going on her first out-of-the-country trip. So, when we were invited to have our carry-on luggage checked in for free because of anticipated volume of carry-on luggage of a packed flight, despite my gut feeling telling me not to, I opted to have my bag checked in.

Upon boarding the plane, I asked two flight attendants in two separate occasions to ensure that my bag was indeed checked in. They assured me of the process, but I still felt something was going to turn out wrong.

At the immigration in Hong Kong, it was my first time to be ever asked for itinerary. So, make sure you have yours prepared just in case they ask for it. If you booked packages over Klook, please make sure to show them your bookings from your phone. Also, before giving them your passport, make sure to remove it from its jacket/holder.

Only my big suitcase arrived on the carousel. Ten minutes after all bags from our flight from Manila were already taken, my carry-on luggage that was checked in still did not arrive. I panicked immediately because the bag contained documents my sister needed. I immediately asked the assistance of the personnel at the Baggage Enquiry Desk while I tried to contact Cebu Pacific’s hotline.

I was amazed at the efficiency of the personnel at HKIA. They were understanding and supportive. They remained calm, so I did not panic even further. However, I was disappointed with Cebu Pacific because I was told to wait up to 48 hours for them to get back to me. No, scrap that. I was asked to call them again after 48 hours. So much for using the word “escalation.” I was fuming at this point!

Twenty-one minutes of long-distance call and Php 2,500 charge on my bill later, Jana told me she saw my bag already. It arrived together with the bags from the flight from Mumbai. I guess at the last minute, they remembered I checked in my bag and had it brought to the carousel.

Maybe if I had a little more faith on the ground crew of Cebu Pacific, I did not have to make the phone call. Still, it was my first “lost luggage” experience so I guess I should not be so hard on myself. I am grateful they did not lose my bag and I still think they should improve on how their customer service personnel handle cases like this. Please don’t sound as if you’re as helpless as your customers.

img_1296Almost lost luggage aside, Cebu Pacific still provided us a comfortable flight. Our seats were upgraded to the seats near the exit so, we had more leg room. Jana and I had fun trying to figure out how to open the exit door in case of emergency. The flight attendants were very nice and attentive to our needs. I guess, I just need to not be so uptight.

I am also thankful that I was not alone that day. Somebody could have picked my bag while I was still at the Baggage Enquiry Desk.

Lessons learned: If you can check everything in, check everything in. Once you decided to have carry-on luggage, don’t have it checked in anymore unless necessary (no more space at all).

Despite the tears, numerous eye drops and the tugging and pulling around my right eye, my Maybelline HyperSharp Powerblack Eyeliner and Essence I Love Extreme Waterproof Volume Mascara did not budge when my contact lens irritated my eye. Talk about product review after a mishap!

Hong Kong – September 2018 (Part 3 – Shopping)

As expensive as Hong Kong may be, it can actually be a nice place to go shopping.

On my second day of visit, Trixie and I went to Times Square in Causeway Bay to shop and find stuff to send to her boyfriend who’s currently studying abroad.

Our first stop in Times Square was the Apple Store. I was shocked at how packed the place was. It was as if there was a celebrity having a meet-and-greet that time.

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The staff who attend Trixie as she bought her AirPods were very nice and thorough as they explained to her everything she needed to know about usage, charging time, warranties, and what to do should she lose one from the pair. They were very efficient too as there was no need to fall in line to pay at a counter. They handle the sale right where you stand.

img_9030Our next stop at Times Square was LOG-ON. It’s a brand under the City Super Group that focuses on trendy items from stationery, beauty and wellness products, and gadgets like Fitbit. I love this place because of its adorable setup and super cute products that I cannot find in National Book Store or at Fully Booked.

Here, Trixie got herself a new Fitbit. I do not remember which type it was, but it’s the kind that has a heart rate monitor or something like that. She also got herself a Klean Kanteen insulated bottle because the one I bought for her in the Philippines turned out to be meant for her boyfie (insert rolling eyes here).

If you’re planning to buy Klean Kanteen products, it’s a little bit cheaper in the Philippines.

Our next stop was at city’super, another brand under City Super Group. This one’s kind of like their grocery/household department store. I like going to the household stuff area because they carry so many products that I wish I can get for our kitchen.

Here, I was able to get Mom the omelet pan she’s been looking for. She’s trying her hands at bento making and I think the omelet pan is needed for some of the designs she wants to go for.

For myself, I got this silicon pastry mat for my baking activities. Can’t wait to try making pies and more types of bread!

That was just one day of shopping and we already bought a lot of stuff!

If you like pretty trinkets, I suggest visiting Joe’s Creation. It’s like Broadway Gems but with better quality products and classier designs. If we weren’t on a budget, I bet I bought a piece of every single design of hair accessory there!

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If you want to buy cosmetics and beauty products, just very close to Time Square are plenty of shops like Etude House and Innisfree. Personally though, I like going to Sasa.

Every time I go to Hong Kong, I try to go to a Sasa store to buy my The Saem or Innisfree oil control powders. This time though, my purpose for going was for the mini perfume samplers because I promised my awesome office buddy and friend, Karen, that I will get her an Elizabeth Arden Green Tea perfume.

What was actually a search for one perfume bottle turned into buying a couple other perfumes. We fell in love with the Salvatorre Ferregamo perfumes so Trixie bought a few bottles for each of us.

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The tiny size is perfect for me because I have commitment issues with perfumes. I get tired of a scent too easily and so it takes me one year to use up a 50ml bottle. These tiny babies allow me to consume one before getting tired of the scent.

If you are after nuts and chocolate that are not very expensive, PrizeMart is the way to go. I was able to get a big bag of pecans for a cheaper price than if I bought them at the baking supplies store I frequent here. I was also able to get cured pork for my office mates.

Some of the stuff I saw at PrizeMart were Merci chocolates, M&Ms, shortbread cookies, pineapple cakes, a huge range of nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc.), laver, Bonne Maman fruit preserves/jam (almost Php 100 cheaper than in the Philippines) and so much more!

If you’re after Asian snacks, Ameyokocho is a good place to find them. I personally love the cheese puff sticks with the Doraemon packaging design. I wish I got ten packs instead of just one.

If you think you’re done shopping by the time you get to the airport, you’re very, very wrong. Hong Kong International Airport has dozens of stores for shopping at the last minute. Among my favorites are those that sell cookies and other treats in very cute packaging like Okashi Land, Kee Was Bakery, and Wing Wah.

The best thing I noticed in Hong Kong was that they do not fail to ensure they have awesome packaging for their goods. Even the packaging counts as gift already. It just goes to show that even though stuff are expensive in Hong Kong, they make sure every bit of what you get is worth it.

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Treats from Wing Was. To be honest, I was more after the packaging than the contents. 😀

Across the Wing Wah stall near the immigration entrance was a shop called Homeless > HKG. Despite the name, it’s filled with pretty stuff that I can only wish to decorate and fill my house with! There were so many things to look at I did not know where to start!

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I want that Hello Kitty and that bunny night lights!

They have adorable decors for the young-at-heart like wall clocks. They remind me of the clock that my Mom bought for me when I was a little girl just so I will stop calling my aunt very early in the morning. I did it because I wanted to hear the sound her clock made when long hand hit twelve.

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The pug’s eyes move from left to right.

If you are an old soul and prefer vintage designs, they got some for you as well.

img_9438The best part of this shop is the hot water bottle that my sister bought for me as a gift. Awww… That’s my sister. She does not shower you with hugs and kisses, but she showers you with gifts.

Aside from the very sweet and cute design, what I like about this hot pack is that the rubber water holder is kept inside this owl pack that’s made of fleece. Being someone who is sensitive to anything hot, I do not have to worry anymore about burning myself when I need to have the hot pack.

I am pretty sure there are loads of other awesome shops that I have not been to. I am so excited for March next year because I’ll be back to Hong Kong, this time, with my former office mates! Must save up and plan the places we’ll visit so we can get the most out of our trip!

Hong Kong – September 2018 (Part 2 | Food)

“Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.”  ― Mark Twain

Hong Kong is not cheap. I can eat three meals in the Philippines for every meal in Hong Kong. Despite that, I cannot deny that Hong Kong has so many restaurants that serve really delicious food.

When I was there, Trixie made use of food delivery services so we did not have to go out to eat. FoodPanda was familiar because we also had it in the Philippines. The other delivery service I learned about was Deliveroo.

One morning, Trixie wanted to eat some Korean food. I am not sure which food delivery service she picked, but for our food, we opted to buy the chicken bento and cheesy fries from Seoul Bros.

I loved the fries! Cheese and potato make me happy so when you put them together, I am filled with glee. The fries were not soggy when our order arrived even if there was quite a lot of cheese. It was great because as much as I love fries, I hate it when they’re soggy.

The bento, however, was another thing. I did not touch the kimchi because I do not eat that stuff. The corn salad stressed me out because I could taste the red onions (which I hate). The rice was a must. For an Asian like me, rice is life! The chicken had this sticky glaze that I could not figure out what it was all about. The bento costs HKD 78, I think.

OMG, the chicken. The chicken! It was spicy in a good way. Being someone who is very sensitive to spicy food, I actually liked the chicken a lot. My nose was starting to get runny already from all the spices but I managed to finish it all. Damn, my tummy felt like it was going to pop!

One day, we wanted to eat pizza. I personally like thin crust better because the thick ones make me full right away. Despite that, I was never really a pizza person.

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We only had a small table so I could not get a proper shot without having to remove everything else on it. 😀

Paisano’s Pizzeria is a restaurant I often heard from Trixie during our FaceTime calls. She figured that I should get to try it while I was there. I was not prepared for how big a slice was. It was so big that a paper plate could not handle it at all! It was almost as long as my hand and forearm!

I really loved this bacon cheeseburger pizza slice. The dough was not too thick and was not very chewy. It was actually soft and easy to eat! For HKD 45, I found it worth the money but I just wish they will do a better job at packing their food for takeout/delivery.

One of the things Trixie and I do not have in common is her courage to eat street foods. Back in our childhood home in the Philippines, there was this house that sold street food from fish balls to grilled chicken blood (we call it betamax). Trixie would drag me there to have her isaw (barbecued pig or chicken intestines) fix. It would take lots of convincing before I would even accept defeat and eat a grilled hotdog from the same store.

That is why it is no wonder that my sister knew a place that sold delicious street food. She bought a small bowl of fish balls for HKD 15. I ate too because I did not want to be brat that time. Surprisingly though, I liked them a lot. The sauce was not spicy either and that made me enjoy the meal more.

What I did enjoy better, however, was my Taiwanese milk tea from the Sharetea stall beside the street food stall. Despite not asking for any adjustments to the sweetness level, they pretty much nailed how I like my milk tea.

The street food and milk tea shop are located in O’brien Road, Wan Chai.

From time to time, we would just order food from McDonald’s. Sadly, they do not have rice meals there. I liked their burgers though.

At the airport, on the day of my flight back to the Philippines, Trixie and I had one last meal together. Being the emotional person that I am, I took every chance to have more time with her before going home.

We settled for Tsui Wah and ordered a beef curry meal, a pork chop curry meal, some spicy shrimp dumplings and lemon iced tea. We may have underestimated their serving size because…

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…look at the size of that pork chop! It’s as big as my face! It’s even bigger in real life than in the picture!

Both the beef and the pork were Malaysian types of curry and you simply must try them! Curry? The pork chop was crispy, but the beef was like melt-in-your-mouth tender. But, aren’t they spicy? Oh yes! But, they were the comfortable type of spicy for me because I enjoyed pouring the curry sauce over my rice. Granted that I had to frequently reach out for my iced tea, I was not turned off by the heat in my mouth and on my lips while we devoured our food.

The best part of the meal? More conversations with Trixie!

Aside from the shops near the boarding gates, the airport also had vending machines where you can buy using your Octopus card. Having felt thirsty after a couple of hours waiting (the downside of arriving at the airport too early), I opted to get myself a drink.

img_9116I noticed a bottle of sparkling water that was just around HKD 17. I thought to myself, why not give this a try and see why such was even made.

Sadly, I only drank around 25 ml of the stuff and never touched it again. It wasn’t because it tasted awful. It had no taste at all, actually. Or, maybe it did taste like normal mineral water. What I could not get was the feel of the water in my mouth. It’s like I am expecting to drink Sprite or 7-Up but wasn’t getting the taste. My senses were confused. I could not understand the hype at all.

Despite our lack of adventures during this trip to HK, I really enjoyed meals with Trixie. We miss her at home so much. Hope to be back again soon!

Hong Kong – September 2018 (Part 1)

“I have seen travel plans happen only when they were made overnight.” -Sanhita Baruah

I had to go see my sister. That was all I thought of when I booked my flight to Hong Kong. If I had to break my back and extend hours at work so I would not cause any problems meeting our deadlines, I was determined to do it. I had to see her, so I was going to do whatever I had to.

Fortunately, fate was kind to me and several events took place that made it okay for me to fly to Hong Kong without having to worry about deadlines that much. I will be eternally grateful because I was already missing my sister terribly.

img_8972As much as I wanted to fly via Cathay Pacific (my absolute favorite), I could only afford Cebu Pacific at the time. I figured that I was only going to fly for about two hours anyway and I would rather have more money to spend for shopping than for my flight. So, I booked my tickets online and I even learned how to pay for my tickets via BDO online banking. I made sure to pay for window seats going to Hong Kong and going home.

I booked an afternoon flight because I had to bake cookies for the birthday and baptism party of my boss’ daughter. I was going to fly at 5:40PM and I was so glad that the plane was already ready and waiting when I arrived at the airport at around 3:00PM. I immediately checked and learned that sunset was going to be at 5:51PM so I prayed to be able to get a good glimpse of the sunset up in the sky.

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Unfortunately, it started raining. Despite all efforts to have my camera zoom in on the sunset, it focused on the raindrops of the plane window instead. Even when it has stopped raining and there were no raindrops of the window, it was too cloudy to see the sunset. Oh well, maybe next time then.

My flight was very smooth and I landed around ten minutes earlier than the expected arrival. I do not remember having to ride a shuttle from the plane to the airport during my past trips, but I enjoyed seeing the huge planes from other airlines. Using my auditor’s eyes, I kept on the lookout for any Cathay Pacific plane missing the letter F. I saw none.

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I had no trouble at the immigration counter and the officer who checked my documents was familiar. I think he’s the same officer from when mom and I visited last Christmas. I think he’d be even more handsome if he smiled. But, I guess his job required them to keep a poker face or people will not take them seriously.

My sister was already waiting for me when I got there. She arrived too early, so she was also hungry already when I arrived. To my happiness, there’s a branch of my favorite restaurant at the airport!

We ordered my favorite pork dish and some lemon iced tea. Unfortunately, the tables at the airport branch did not have the adorable drawers filled with utensils like the branch we visited in Mong Kok back in 2016, Still, I enjoyed dinner with my sister.

img_9020We opted to ride the bus on the way home since it was only HKD40. It’s cheaper than taking the train that I think is around HKD100. Also, my sister said that since she took the bus to the airport, her trip going back was only going to be HKD20. Plus, we will not have to transfer to another ride because the bus was going to drop us near her place already. God, I missed the efficient transport system of Hong Kong. To my embarrassment though, I forgot how their tap card system worked and I kept tapping my Octopus card on the wrong place. At least the driver didn’t shout at me, haha.

Too tired for anything else, my sister and I spent the rest of the night watching shows on Netflix. We didn’t have any plans on what to do and where to go. That night, I felt how much it didn’t matter anymore because being with her made me happy already. Then, I realized we had to share her bed and I remembered how much she tosses and turns in her sleep. It was going to be a long night…

Navigating Hong Kong International Airport – HKG My Flight

Sometimes, one cannot help but feel worried when alone in a foreign place. When something aids you in navigating a foreign place, a huge part of your worries is lifted and you get to enjoy truly exploring and looking for adventures.

During my second time and third time to fly back to the Philippines, I used the HKG My Flight mobile app to help me navigate the huge Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) that has over 500 boarding gates. Since HKIA has really good WiFi service, using the mobile app was no trouble at all.

So what’s nice about the app?

First, it tells you where your boarding gate is. During both my flights the attendants at the check in counter were not yet sure of the assigned boarding gates to my flights but this app already had such information.

It will also tell you about the boarding status of your flight.

If you were able to arrive and check in early, HKIA has lots of shops to visit! Although, you might forget about your boarding time once you’ve had your focus set to shopping so a little reminder won’t hurt. The app is said to allow you to track your flight so you get boarding alerts. From Flight Search, look for your flight and tap it to open your flight information. It will open another page where you can tap Track so you will get notifications.

From my few trials with tracking flights for the purpose of this post, I feel it’s best to open the app from time to time since I would only get alerts for the “Final Call” and none for the actual start of boarding.

The app has a lot of other services like the Baggage Arrival Notice, Transport To & From Airport, and Signage Translation (huge help when you feel lost) just to name a few. It also has a list of the airport’s facilities.

Again, if you would like to shop or dine first, the app also contains a list of its shops and restaurants. Tap on any shop or restaurant from the list to open its information page which contains its location and operation hours. Apparently, there is an online shopping feature too!

My favorite shop is Wing Wah Cake Shop and this is where I bought most of the food items I brought home. I prefer it over Okashi Land Hong Kong although both sell really yummy treats.

I can’t wait to see airports of other countries since Hong Kong is the only I’ve been to outside of the Philippines. I shall make it a point to research beforehand if they had apps like this too so I can document my experience in using them. I hope I will have a good time like how I did in Hong Kong.

For the meantime, download the HKG My Flight app here:

Google Play: click here

App Store: click here

To read about my Hong Kong stories and adventures, you may click here.

 

Back to Hong Kong (Part 4)

February 18, 2018. I was going home that evening. I didn’t want to go far anymore for more touristy activity. I just wanted to spend as much time as I could with my sister. Writing this post makes me miss her already.

IMG_3781We wanted to get breakfast at McDonald’s but they had a problem with their pipes so no drinks could be served that morning. Because of that, we opted to just go to Pacific Coffee instead.

We both ordered Pork Sausage Roll and Mocha Brownie Chillino. I loved the chillino drink! It was not overly bitter but not too sweet for my liking either. The sausage roll was very delicious too! It did not take like a hotdog that was just called a sausage. Rolled in the crumbly pastry was an authentic sausage, with all the spices and herbs to make it really yummy!

We also went to two Watson’s Pharmacy outlets because my sister wanted to get me this Sally Hansen gel nail polish that she was recommending for me to try. That was when I noticed the self-service checkout offered for those whose total amount of purchases are below HKD 1,000. Acceptable modes of payment are the Octopus card, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Ali Pay, MasterCard PayPass, and Visa payWave.

I am thinking that HKD 999 (roughly Php 6,000) is a huge amount for a self-service checkout counter. This must mean that honesty is greatly valued and practiced in Hong Kong.

We also shopped at isai in CNT Tower, Hennessy Road, Wan Chai. My sister got a cute sweater with a bunny design in front while I got a long cardigan. We got a small koala coin bank as a freebie which I absolutely adored! I just love small, cute things!

For lunch, we went to Cafe de Coral which was just a few steps away from isai. I was amazed how fast the service time was and how big the plates were. I loved the pork dish we ordered because it made me feel so full.

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I was very lonely by this point already because being done with our very late lunch meant having to go to the airport already. I did not want to leave anymore and just wanted to stay with my sister just a little bit longer. I kind of wish I did not get the 7PM flight because it felt too early for me. However, I had to be in the office 3 hours earlier the following day because we had visitors from our offices abroad.

We took a cab to the train terminal that will take us to the airport. I did not have any problem with the check in. I noticed from the last time I was leaving Hong Kong (January 1, 2018) that there were no more immigration officers who will scrutinize my travel documents and take my picture upon leaving Hong Kong. In place was an automated process wherein I will just have to scan my passport and step towards the camera that was going to take my picture. Self-service again. Hong Kong residents must be very independent individuals. I love it!

One thing I liked about their airport as well were the strategically placed charging ports and vending machines. I used my Octopus card for the vending machine to buy this bottled water.

The flight was not delayed. However, it was my first time to board a Cebu Pacific plane that had nine seats per row. I was only used to the kind of plane I rode going to Hong Kong–six seats only per row.

I was on a window seat again and no one occupied the seat beside mine. That meant more leg space for me! I just have to sit a little bit sideways.

I passed time reading a book. Fortunately, there was no turbulence during the flight so I did not feel paranoid at any point.

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I got home on time. The bags arrived late though.

I booked a ride sharing service to go home. I was wondering why it was so dark in Manila. Like something was wrong with the street lights and some streets looked like there were no lights at all. So, I asked the driver if there was anything going on in Manila while I was gone. Turns out, he had heavily tinted windows. Ha-ha-ha!

I did not go all-out tourist in Hong Kong. I was more happy to share simple moments with the sister I terribly miss having home.

You may want to read about the rest of my experiences in Hong Kong for the Chinese New Year. Read about them here:

Back to Hong Kong (Part 1)

Back to Hong Kong (Part 2)

Back to Hong Kong (Part 3)

Back to Hong Kong (Part 1)

Chinese New Year, February 16, happened to be a Friday. As one of the non-working holidays in the Philippines, it meant having a long weekend to enjoy. My sister invited me to spend it with her in Hong Kong.

UntitledI booked my flight a little less than a month before. By this time, however, flights were already very expensive considering that I wanted to leave on the day of the holiday. Fortunately, I had 8,416 GetGo points from all of my out-of-town audit assignments in my previous job that I accumulated from flying with Cebu Pacific Air most of the time. So, instead of paying around Php 30,000 for a round trip ticket, I paid only Php 9,329.17 with 15kg baggage allowance for both flights! Not only that, I did not have to pay to move my seats because for both flights, I was assigned window seats. Yay!

On the day of my flight, I opted to pay my travel tax (Php 1,620) first before dropping my check-in baggage at the counters. During my previous flight to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific, we checked in our bags first before paying the travel tax so we had to go back for our boarding passes afterwards.

IMG_4778One of the perks of an early morning flight (before 6 am) is that the queue for every thing you have to fall in line for is still very short. Total time spent from travel tax payment queue to bag drop was only 30 minutes, 20 of which was because of the number of bags for checking in at the bag drop counters. Thankfully,  I already checked in online since Cebu Pacific allows it seven days before the flight for international flights.

The queue at the immigration counters took around 10 minutes since there were not much officers yet at that time. I was asked where I worked and had my company ID ready in case it will be required from me.

I was all set 2 hours before my flight. The plane was already parked and waiting so I was not worried anymore about changes in boarding gates. Thankfully, the flight was not delayed.

It was my first time to fly just close to sunrise so I was able to see its beauty from high up in the sky. It was more beautiful than I imagined it to be! This is why I love window seats. No matter how much I have flown from one place to another over the years, I have not gotten sick of the sky, the clouds, and every thing else that I could see from up high.

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You know it’s HK when elevators are steep!

There was no turbulence at all during this flight (thank God!) and at some point, I did fall asleep. I arrived in Hong Kong and was able to get out of the aircraft at around 7:55 am. Since I made sure to fill out the information card that tourists are required to present at the immigration counter during the flight, I could go straight to the immigration before the queue became longer!

For some reason, the immigration people were not as uptight as I remembered them during my past two trips to Hong Kong. I heard them say hello and reply “you’re welcome” after we thanked them. I never heard them speak in the past. Maybe it was because of the new year. Still, thank you Hong Kong immigration peeps!

I hurried to the baggage reclaim carousel because I was afraid that someone else will get my suitcase by mistake. Upon getting there though, bags were delayed. At least, they had a sign telling you when your baggage is arriving already.

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I met my sister at Arrival Hall A and we took a taxi to get to her apartment in Wan Chai. Afterwards, we went to Jollibee near her place to have our breakfast. Typical Pinoy. Ha-ha!

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After breakfast, we both slept in her apartment. My work starts at 3PM and ends at 12AM. From work, I just went home to freshen up and check my stuff again before making sure to get to the airport by 2:30AM. I have not slept since 10 AM of the previous day so I was feeling very sleepy already. We slept until around 2PM before deciding to just watch Black Panther at Times Square. My sister bought the tickets online.

I was very glad to be back in Hong Kong because I missed my sister very much already. The trip was not one that has been planned for a long time but it was a nice birthday gift to myself (my birthday was last February 11). While it was not my first time to fly alone, it was my first time to fly outside the Philippines by myself and it was such a fun experience.

Thank you, Cebu Pacific for the safe, very smooth, and timely flight!

Read the rest of my adventures in Hong Kong:

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4