September 2, 2010
Hongkong Trip Day 1: Tsim Sha Tsui and Mongkok Computer Center
It was a good thing Cindy, the ever-reliable researcher, read through a lot of information online especially on PinoyExchange.com (PEX). She told me that all the necessary details on what to do, where to go and how to get there is already laid out so there was no need for us to hire a travel agency to create an Itinerary for us.
shops and streets at 10pm!
I woke up and saw my friends, Cindy and Logan, still surfing the net with their laptops. I slept for a couple of hours at the Hong Kong International Airport which was a good thing as I had more energy to stroll around the place when we got to our hostel.
Train Tickets to purchase Octopus cards
6am, at the airport; we went to the center where we could buy some Octopus cards for our MTR (Mass Transit Railway) fares. This proved to be a wise choice as it's a very convenient way to travel and pay for your fare when going to different towns.
Octopus cards - check out wikipedia for more information about it: Wikipedia - Octopus Card
going out of the HKIA
A21 Bus route for Tsim Sha Tsui
We called Ate Yolly (caretaker of Tai San Guest House in Tsim Sha Tsui) to inform her that we were about to drop by and check in. She gave us the go signal and off we went to search for an A21 bus so we could go to the hostel.
Note: It is advisable to bring some Hongkong dollars and coins with you on your first day. In our case, we wouldn't be able to call the guesthouse hadn't Cindy brought some coins and change in Cebu. Actually we can, but for convenience sake, just do it.
Although there were money changers at the HKIA, we weren't sure if they were open since we arrived at the wee hours of the morning. Plus we didn't know if they had a higher selling rate for HK dollars.
Anyway, we rode the A21 bus and was told to count the number of stops as ours was on the 13th stop. We were checking out Hong Kong on the windows so we got confused on how many stops we were already at. In the end, we went down somewhere in Mongkok and got lost.
riding on the bus and seeing the other side of Hongkong in the morning
We asked a few people around and one lady was kind enough to give us directions on how to get there via MTR albeit with broken English. I realized as well that there was no need to have perfect English as the important thing is to get our message across. So there and for the rest of the days, I used my 'Carabao English' skills and started talking in broken sentences.
free newspaper, Burlington Arcade
We rode the MTR going to Tsim Sha Tsui and when we arrived there, we thought the Tai San Guest House was an easy find. We actually passed by a couple of streets and a few alleys until we found out that we were just circling around a block where our hostel was located. Because it took us some more time and we were carrying our backpacks and luggage, we looked for a phone booth and called Ate Yolly again. She gave us directions and we still got lost in the process. But we were able to locate the Burlington Arcade and after a few more bloopers, we arrived at the hostel.
Who wouldn't get lost with all the signs and stores around? The hostel even has another branch on the same block! I guess that's how serious space is in this special administrative region.
Tai San Guesthouse rooms are equipped with a bathroom, telephone, television, DVD, small refrigerator and computers with free broadband Internet service!
our room, a little cramped for three (had an extra bed on the floor, but this was decent already considering the price
Visit their website here: http://hktaisanguesthouse.com/eng/index.htm
When we arrived at the guest house, it was good that there was a vacant room and Ate Yolly said that we could just leave our things there. On the topmost floor of the condo, the available room was located at the attic! (how convenient... not). But we were lucky enough to get a room considering the number of people booking for space.
Mcdonalds is located at the basement of one building
We went out to eat breakfast while the room was still being cleaned. We ate at a Mcdonalds restaurant near our hostel and afterwards, my friends decided to get some shut eyes since we were all tired from the trip. However, I changed some clothes in order to start strolling downtown as my feet were already itching to explore just to get familiar with the place.
I got back after an hour or so and my friends were already prepared to check the place out. We headed to The Avenue of the Stars at the Victoria Harbour waterfront in Tsim Sha Tsui.
Avenue of the Stars, Hongkong
clock tower, paintings being sold
Upon further walking, we were able to check out 1881 Heritage; which used to be the headquarters of the Hong Kong Marine Police. It has a beautiful Victorian architecture with shopping malls, high-class boutiques and hotels around.
1881 Heritage is located at Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui.
the 1881 Heritage in Hongkong, beautiful despite the chaotic city life outside
branded shops: Chanel, Rolex, Hermes, Tiffany & Co. etc.
We walked even further and bought some drinks (juice packs) to quench our thirst because of walking. We were going from one street to another and had our US Dollars exchanged to Hongkong Dollars.
We bought US Dollars in the Philippines because according to PEX, we will get a better exchange rate if we use USD instead of Philippine Pesos. I didn't bother checking the rates because it was too much Math already. hehe
streets in Tsim Sha Tsui
There are a lot of Money Changer stations in Tsim Sha Tsui so you don't have to worry about looking for one. Also, we weren't afraid to get lost as we had our Hongkong map and MTR Map with us. If we got lost, we just have to look for the red MTR logo and go down and ride the station going to where we needed to be. The transportation system in Hongkong is very impressive.
We ate our late lunch cum dinner in KFC. I kept converting the prices to pesos to make sure we got the best rates possible. Instead of buying a 2-piece chicken meal at 32 HKD, we bought a bucket meal at 89 HKD. This was good for three people plus we had some good side dishes included. We didn't finish the whole thing as we saved some for our midnight snack later on. I didn't have any problem with compromising the food as I can always eat a lot when I'm back in the Philippines.
KFC Bucket meal
After eating, we rode the MTR and went to Mongkok where we dropped by the Mongkok Computer Center because we wanted to check out gadgets and more gadgets!
The Mongkok Computer Center is a building up to 3 floors (I think) which houses different stores for gadgets. It's like those Divisoria malls, only this one is full of computer and electronic stuff. The prices are way cheaper too! For example, a 500 GB portable external hard drive in the Philippines would cost 4,000 Php. Here in Mongkok, it would only be 2,900 Php! We took a long time checking the place because of being mesmerized by all the items they sold.
external hard drives, laptops, camera lenses, everything here at the Mongkok Computer Center!
I bought a Buffalo wireless router for 950 Php only! hehe. I thought I wouldn't be able to buy something on the first day but it was such a hard offer to resist. We went out of the computer center and checked the stores on the streets. There were still a lot of people even at 10pm or 11pm! The scene reminds me of Quiapo in Manila or Colon in Cebu.
Had to have my picture taken while people were busy walking!
There were a lot of stores as well below. You would wonder why there's already a Nike store in one corner, in front of it is another Nike store! Sometimes we were already wondering if these were original or just Class A shoes. Because they really used the logo of Nike/Adidas/etc. and had billboards to go with the shops.
Hongkong streets and lights
didn't try Hongkong streetfood because my tastebuds weren't as adventurous
Anyway, there may be stores who are selling class A items. Because of how crowded the place is, you would wonder where the shops are knowing that there are signs pointing to the store. Some of the shops are located at the basement, 2nd or 3rd floor.
After seeing that the shops were about to close (around 1am), we went down to an MTR station and then got back to Tsim Sha Tsui. It was a fast commute, we got home to TST from Mongkok in 10 minutes via MTR. This is the fastest way for you to go to places.
amazing transport system of Hongkong and their MTR
At the hostel, we tested the router since the three of us brought our laptops with us and since our room was located in the attic, the free wifi of the hostel couldn't reach us. They had an internet port and we set up the router then. All of us were able to go online and the router did work!
We bought rice at KFC and drinks at 7/11 and ate the remaining food that we had from our lunch/dinner for our midnight snacks.
wireless router and our midnight snack, the free newspaper proved to be useful
It was a long and tiring day because we kept on walking and walking. Little did we know that this was just the first of many walks to come the succeeding days.
Hong Kong Day 1 Expenses:
Hostel: 2250 HKD – TaiSan Guesthouse rate for 5 nights at 450 HKD/per night
– this is good for 3 persons so I paid only 150 HKD/night
Transportation: 100 HKD – Octopus Card
Food: 99 HKD – Bucket Meal good for 3 people (that’s 33 HKD each)
6.80 HKD – gravy (doesn’t come free!)
3.20 HKD – Juice Watsons
40 HKD – Extra Rice and Drinks at KFC for Dinner
16 HKD – Water and Coke at 7/11
Other Items: 50 HKD – wallets (good for 5)
158 HKD – Buffalo wireless router at Mongkok Computer Center
* 1 Hong Kong Dollar at 6 Philippine Pesos
Check out my blog posts about my Cebu to Hongkong trip here:
- Hong Kong Trip: From Cebu to Hongkong
- Hongkong Trip: Tsim Sha Tsui and Mongkok Computer Center
- Hong Kong Trip: World Trade Center & Times Square in Causeway Bay, Wan Chai
- Hong Kong Trip: City Gate Outlets and Disneyland
- Hong Kong Trip: Ocean Park
- Hong Kong Trip: Victoria Peak
- HongKong to Cebu
- Modern Toilet Restaurant in Mongkok
- Tips and Things to Know about Hong Kong
- Total Budget Expense of our Hong Kong Macau Trips
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soloflightEd.com is a travel blog by Edcel Suyo. He enjoys performing headstands and crazy stunts during his trips in the Philippines and the rest of Asia. He just started his backpacking trip across Southeast Asia in order to live as a digital nomad. Read more about the beginning of his delusions of grandeur here.
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