Hong Kong is the first country that I’ve been to outside the Philippines. So you can imagine how excited we were to step on foreign soil. We booked a flight for 1200 Php thru Cebu Pacific’s Piso Fare promo and it took us a almost a year to prepare for the trip.
Here’s an overview on some tips and things to know about Hong Kong based on my trip last September 1-8, 2010. Hopefully, this will prove to be a useful entry for people who want to know more information about this place. You can check out my old entries at the bottom of this entry for a blow-by-blow account on what we did on each day.
Thanks to Cebu Pacific’s Piso Fare!
actual number of passengers boarding for HK
We all watched the tragic news of the Tourist Bus Crisis wherein Hong Kong tourists were held hostage by a Philippine officer and how 8 of these tourists died. We heard all sorts of stories on how we were banned by other nations from traveling to our country. We also heard stories about the so-called maltreatment of Filipinos in Hong Kong because of the said incident.
So imagine how we felt a week after the scene when the memory was still fresh. When we boarded the plane from Cebu to Hong Kong, we noticed that there were only less than a third of the total seats in the plane that were occupied which showed how many passengers cancelled their trips. We waited a year for this so it was no time for us to back out from the vacation.
We were also afraid at the Immigration Center but all the officer asked from me was my return ticket; and then my passport was stamped!
a half-naked man on the street.
Normal business hours start around 10am and end at 7pm. That’s why you can still see a lot of people on the streets and the night is still high at 11pm! Shops, stores and midnight markets are abound in different districts. In our case, we went home to the Tai San Guesthouse (our hostel) around 12mn already and we’d sleep at 3am. We wake up at 9am and then proceed to our itinerary the next day.
Hong Kong Food
One of the things I regret not doing in Hongkong is eating street food. We mostly ate in KFC restaurants just because food was not one of the things that we really wanted to explore. Strolling around different streets, we passed by a number of food places but we didn’t dare eating them.
Also, since fastfood shops are expensive, what we did is order a bucket meal for lunch and then save the remaining half of our chicken for dinner. We only had to buy some extra rice and juice in a supermarket. By the way, I won’t recommend this unless you want to smell like chicken in your remaining days.
If you want regular updates on the status of Hong Kong, I HIGHLY recommend that you check out the Hong Kong thread of Pinoy Exchange. On the first pages, you will see all the information that you will ever need during the trip. They have detailed instructions on how to get to a particular place in Hong Kong and what to expect. It’s really specific which is one thing I applaud about the moderator. Get to bus A21, get down on the 13th stop, turn right, exit A, etc. — it’s so comprehensive you’d feel like you’ve lived in the place!
Here’s a link on the first page for your reference (PEX.com – Hong Kong Thread)
Warning: Don’t post questions that were already answered if you don’t want to get a note from the Moderator (commoner)
People Are Always Walking
first day in HK
People are always walking in Hong Kong – you just want to stand still amidst it all (cue music video) haha. We kept up with them and walked for 6 days straight! That’s why it’s advisable that you wear the most comfortable shoes possible. You not only walk but also climb stairs. I didn’t want to complain as I’m already thankful that I have legs. What I did was psyching myself up that this was good for me; an instant exercise without much effort. A number of times I sprinted despite carrying a heavy backpack.
The thought made me realize that I could not see a fat person in Hong Kong! Of course, there are a lot of factors but I’m assuming that the walking had something to do with it.
in a hurry? stay on the left!
People seem to be are always walking fast. If you’re on an escalator in the subway, stay on the right if you just want to wait. The left side is for people who are in a hurry.
view from a 2nd floor boutique
Space is maximized because of how densely populated the region is. You can see fast food shops or boutiques in third floors of a particular building because there’s no more area in the ground floor. Our guesthouse was located on the 15th floor of a building. They have large malls too, some would reach 34 floors and these floors still has some shops that cater to their clients. It may be difficult if you’re claustrophobic but they have ways to make it look a little roomy. Knowing that no one’s excluded from this fact, you learn to accept the situation and live with it.
Hong Kong is one of those great shopping meccas in Asia. Take your pick: Louis Vuitton, Salvatore Ferragamo, Burberry, Hermes, Chanel, Cartier, Tiffany & Co. and other brands I haven’t heard of. As what I’ve stated in one of my posts, I didn’t bother finding them out because I can’t afford them and I DON’T want to afford them. hehe. Surely, you can find something in these high-end shops; the people in HK have.
Based on my experience, I had a challenge finding good clothes that are cheap; dirt cheap, I mean. But be sure to realize that a sale is a SALE. This made me think about how many times I splurged on items here in Cebu when I can get them at a lower price elsewhere.
City Gate, I love you!
Citygate Outlets – for branded items, head off the to the Citygate Outlets mall as this is where you can find original shoes, shirts, bags from known brands such as Nike, Adidas, Calvin Klein, Columbia etc. and you can get them at factory prices. You can actually go to other shops in malls and surely you can get a good deal there.
outrageous shoes – every style is different!
There is a street in Mongkok wherein the products they sell are all shoes. I didn’t bother buying there because I’d go crazy in determining which ones are real and are knock-offs. But surely you’ll get people to look at your shoes because of how unique the designs are
Giordano & Bossini, they come in pairs!
Giordano and Bossini are two known brands that are like Jollibee and McDonalds in the Philippines; they sprout in ever block. I’ve been trying to find some good quality shirts (same as Bangkok) in the midnight markets but I was not successful. There are H&M and Cotton On shops, but they’re a bit expensive.
You can go to the Mongkok Computer Center or Wan Chai Computer center to get your gadget fix. These are buildings in their respective districts that have floors that sell all types of electronic gadgets, computers, phones, camera lenses etc. The same as shoes, some items cost almost half of the prices here in the Philippines.
Don’t forget to haggle! I’ll probably create a separate entry about haggling. By the way, this applies to midnight market shops and some of stores only – not the high-end ones.
Hong Kong Fashion
androgyny minus shyness
The people in Hong Kong are fashionable. You see women and girls in boots and guys in neon-colored shoes too. Sometimes men dress like women and they’re not even labeled gay. Nobody cares much and you can dress to your extent. Even if the temperature is humid, these people can dress up to their hoodies and jackets because of how cold the subway and the malls are. In most times, people here spend their hours in air conditioned buildings and establishments so dressing up is no biggie.
It’s funny because no matter how small the nooks, corners and alleys were, I saw a lot of Chinese businessmen in full office attire walking and even talking over their bluetooth headsets. Imagine a top professional walking in Quiapo, Manila or Colon, Cebu.
Mass Transit System (MTR)
those are LCD screens inside the sliding doors
The MTR is the way to go when you talk about transportation. I can’t tell you how impressed I am with Hong Kong’s transportation system. You can get to and fro each district in less than 5 minutes. There’s a subway under another subway! Also, you’ll actually commute underwater and you won’t even notice it!
If you’re lost outside, all you have to do is look for the red MTR logo sign and head down. You can navigate through the MTR halls provided you know how to read directions and ask.
I really slept here.
You can sleep on their waiting lounges (yes, you can sleep without any fee).. We arrived at dawn and instead of heading directly to the hostel, we stayed at the Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) to kill time. The airport is huge and clean and there are shops and food places to grab a bite to eat. Of course, WiFi is free. I love their bathrooms because they’re big.
This is a very important transportation tool which helped us a lot because of its convenience as opposed to paying for every fare that we had. Octopus cards can be used in 7/11 stores and McDonalds restaurants aside from the MTR and buses. Once you return the card, you’ll be able to claim your 50 HKD deposit.
plug it HK!
This was our first blooper because we forgot to bring Universal adapters for our gadgets. The electrical sockets in Hong Kong (or any country), are different from the Philippines. My problem with my laptop is that it doesn’t reach full bar anymore. I have to plug it in an outlet every time I will use it. Instead of having a productive morning while waiting for the sun to rise at the HKIA, I ended up sleeping. But it wasn’t such a bad idea either because I needed the rest.
Hong Kong Map and the MTR Map
Get the MTR Map and a Hong Kong Map!
These are the maps that you’re ever going to need in order to navigate through the streets of Hong Kong. The great thing about it is that they’re FREE! Upon your arrival at the HKIA, just look for the big ‘i’ symbol which stands for information and you can get your free maps and some other brochures. A map of Hongkong and the MTR map, don’t leave the hostel without them!
I don’t know how many times we got lost in the process of going from one location to another. One thing I learned while travelling is that it’s not embarrassing to ask for directions. Break your English so you can easily be understood.
Going back, the trip had opened my eyes to more possibilities. Surely, once you pop, you can’t stop. This is really memorable for me because I never knew I could go abroad. I used to have classmates back in elementary who were telling their stories about how they spent their summer vacation outside the country. I wondered if I could ever reach those places too; and now I have. It’s even more fulfilling knowing that I was able to afford it with my own hard work.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. – Confucius
Surely there will be more travels to come!
You can check out my old blog posts about my first trip from Cebu to Hongkong 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 Trip