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…

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10 Things I Love About Hong Kong (Aside from Disneyland)

I accompanied my sister, Kristine, to Hong Kong in August of 2016 to help her move for her new job there. It was my first trip outside the country and so I was excited to get my first stamp on my passport.

The second time I went there was to celebrate the last days of 2017 and to welcome 2018. This time, I traveled with Mom so we can visit my sister and meet her boyfriend for the first time.

On both occasions, I flew to Hong Kong via Cathay Pacific. I love this airline especially when I get to select seats with so much leg space! The crew (both ground and air) were very pleasant people. The snacks they served were also very yummy. Sorry, Philippine Airlines. I still love the asado bun though.

Here are the things I loved about Hong Kong in random order:

1. Banking is convenient.

When my sister opened her payroll account, she just gave her ID and everything else was taken care of for her. Account opening did not take very long even if terms and conditions were discussed with her (something that is not normally done here but is now being required for consumer protection).

Also, I noticed that one bank had machines other than your ATM for cash withdrawal purposes. They had machines for cash deposit (BPI and BDO have those already, thankfully), cheque deposit, and even passbook update! These lessen the volume of transactions inside the actual branch because you do most of your banking transactions yourself! Even on weekends!

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As a former bank auditor, how I wished these were widely available in the Philippines too. It would greatly lessen the workload of the branch personnel.

IMG_45302. They promote the use of reusable bags for shopping.

They sell a lot of shopping bags in big sizes and cheaper prices compared to how much SM Malls (especially the groceries) charged for theirs. They charge you extra for every piece of plastic bag you will need for the things you bought.

Also, shopping trolleys are a thing! I did not have to worry about my sister carrying heavy shopping bags (again, worried about the knees) after I bought her a shopping trolley. It also felt like we were becoming one with the locals since a lot of them used trolleys for shopping.

3. The trains and buses were very, very clean!

While the trains can be packed with people, I did not have any problem about being grossed out by their public transport because they were clean. There were no candy wrappers stuck between seats or stains on the floor from spilled drinks.

The airport is also accessible via train or bus so you do not have to spend on Uber. Do not worry about your luggage. They have special places for them in the buses and the trains.

Depending on where you sit, you may find a charging station inside the train from the airport.

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4. Senior citizens are still employable.

I saw senior citizen employees in fast food restaurants and in the train stations. They were very diligent and dedicated to their work. The security personnel in my sister’s place is also an old man, but still quick-witted and agile.

5. Whatever you need, you can get anywhere!

Because rent is very expensive and spaces are small, business establishments often put up several branches instead of renting one very big space. That’s why pharmacies, groceries, fast-food joints, and cosmetic stores are everywhere, making them very accessible wherever you are!

I loved going to their groceries and pharmacies to compare goods that they had over there that were not available here.

6. Food is delicious!

Eating out, albeit a little expensive, is a fun way to enjoy Hong Kong with your friends because they have a lot of restaurants (not talking about fast-food here).

My favorite place for meals is Tai Hing Roast, although I did not like at all that mandarin orange drink they had. The serving was good enough for the price they charged and the food tasted really delicious too!

The funny thing was, when we asked a waiter for utensils, he suddenly reached for the side of our table. We were surprised that it actually had a drawer filled with all the utensils we needed and so much more! The branch we ate in was in Nathan Road, Mong Kok.

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For desserts, I loved the mango treats from Hui Lau Shan in Hennessy Road, Wan Chai. Look at how cute their mango treats are! You may read the adorable story of how the business started here.

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This dessert set is called Mango Romance.

14079606_1046337968820023_6708017745767522034_n7. Public WiFi. Enough said.

Thanks to that, I got to play Pokemon Go (very popular back in 2016) while in a bus.

8. Road and street signs are written in English alphabet!

You will not have to worry about getting lost because you cannot read Chinese characters. Most street and road names are also in English, making them easy to remember. That should not stop anyone from learning Chinese though because it is always fun to learn a new language.

9. They always remind you to take care.

Every time we went to the train station, we always had to take the very long and steep escalators. A recorded reminder was repeatedly played, reminding people to “please hold the handrail” all the time.¬†When we got to the waiting area for the trains, another reminder was played saying to “mind the gap.” They mean the gap between the train and platform.

10. The airport is world-class.

I have no words for how amazing their airport is. NAIA, what happened to you? (T_T)

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I am going back to Hong Kong very soon and hope to find more things to love about the place. Any suggestions?