HONGKONG SOJOURN: THE FAMILY EDITION

by - 8:00 PM


Of the 365 days in a year, there’s a week allotted for our family to come together.  We live in different places, separated by the careers we have chosen yet the New Year celebration is a must to converge.

The winter season hovers and we found ourselves dressed in warm clothes at an important hub of East Asia – Hongkong.


We arrived at Hongkong around midnight boarded through a ferry from Macau.  The trip was not smooth sailing, with episodes of random sea sickness that I opted to dismiss by sleeping.

Walking is an inevitable part of discovering Hongkong.  The railway network system is efficient as well that in no instance can one complain the distance of one landmark to another.

As expected of a holiday season, the streets were filled of pedestrians, both of locals and visitors.  And we came in one with them.  First order is the Tsim Sha Tsui.

Tsim Sha Tsui

Any visitor of Hongkong would never miss this urban area in southern Kowloon, Hongkong. We checked in at Ramada Hongkong through Agoda, while at the Ferry Terminal of Macau.  It was that convenient and cheaper as compared to walk-in guests.

From our hotel, we walked towards the Nathan Road, where shopping malls, restaurants and cheap accommodations are located.  The Chunking Mansion for instance is a highly recommended place to stay for budget travelers.  It is a high rise building that houses several hostels, owned by varied nationals - a melting pot indeed.  It caters to backpackers but needs reservation when the peak season comes.



The neon lights of Lock Road give a vibrant ambiance to the streets of Hongkong.  The road was closed for the festive New Year’s Eve and we have to walk.  We hopped from one restaurant to another; visited stalls of varied merchandise for personal effects and souvenirs and walked towards the touristy Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront.




The waterfront became my first destination for the year together with my family as we await the display of fireworks in the Victoria Harbor to give us a panoramic view of the skyline where buildings set up light bulbs on each façade for this time of the year.  The synchronized Symphony of Lights was a good sight while we loiter and wander in the Avenue of Stars.  This place is truly one venue every visitor “must” visit.


Mongkok


There is always this pre-conceived notion that Hongkong is the perfect haven to shop, with bargain finds selling like hotcakes on every nook and corner of its streets.  To make such generalization precise, visit the Mong Kok area at the Kowloon Peninsula.


Almost anything you want, the area can provide.  The extremely high population density of Mong Kok, has made it to the Guinness World Records as the busiest district in the world.  What is even more interesting of Mong Kok is the fact that street names characterize what it offers.  To name a few:

Ladies Market- specializes in women’s clothing, accessories and cosmetics.  Stalls vending noodles, seafood and congee, open-air market of fruits and vegetables are likewise available in the vicinity

Sneakers Street – a small neighborhood of retailers selling sports equipment and clothing, with stocks of sports shoes, of special editions from different places.

Tile Street – retailers selling materials for construction or renovation, such as tiles, wall papers, window frames and bath tubs are available.


These are just but some of the streets and expected shops in Mong Kok, a must in the itinerary of visitors who are into serious shopping spree in Hongkong.  Those who declare shopping as their therapy on whatever they are into will definitely be rejuvenated. 

As we were about to leave the area, we witnessed several street performers of varied nationalities making their routines – a teenage Korean dancer and an Indian barker of a restaurant named Miss India, was an attention catcher.


Wanchai

Hay-hay Kitchen that stands in one corner of Wanchai District of Hongkong is one of the no-brainer dining areas for our family apart from the known fast food chains.  Hongkong-style fried noodles, barbeque and roasted duck and pork were among its specialty dishes.  I personally loved the roasted pig (lechon) with its crispy skin and succulent meat.




At night, the Wanchai area transforms into a red light district.  The neon signs are prominent with a number of foreign nationals coming in and out of every bar and restaurant.  I even noticed one named Makati Pub and Disco, which made me location disoriented for a minute.


Though some bars offer discounted beers, it is generally expensive to be drunk in Hongkong as compared in the Philippines.  As we placed an order, I was shocked to calculate one bottle of beer as priced more or less 300 pesos per bottle.  Can I go home now?

A lot of bars offered a New Year’s party as the crowd goes wild with bottles of beer scattered in the pedestrian.  Tired of the whole day tour of Hongkong with most of the time walking, I dismissed the idea of joining the parties.  The following day, as if nothing happened, the streets were again clean devoid of traces from the night’s wild party.






The shopping district at the Causeway Bay of Wanchai is a popular destination as well.  Luxury malls, mid-range stalls and bargain shops converge at the said district. 



A walking distance from the said commercial district is the largest park of the country, Victoria Park, where we killed our time to people watch and rest.  It was refreshing to see trees grow in the middle of the urban developed Hongkong.





Central Hongkong

The tourist landmarks of Hongkong are situated at Central Hongkong.  An ideal place for family trips, the district houses the Peak Tram, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and the Hongkong Zoological and Botanical Gardens.  We’ve been to the first two places before, thus, we opted to visit the gardens and besides the first two are quite expensive for an entrance not to mention the long queue that waits.




The Hongkong Zoological and Botanical Gardens is free of admission.  It is one of the oldest zoological and botanical gardens of the world, occupying an area of 5.6 hectares at Mid-levels, on the northern slope of Victoria Peak, Hongkong.  We saw a group of families and friends gathered having picnics and get together. 



We roamed around the vicinity until another day ends.

Transport



Going around Hongkong is convenient through its efficient Mass Transit Railway (MTR).  The system is not that complicated and made it easy to access landmarks for every visitor with the presence of signage (in English with pictures) displayed on each station.




Our trip to Hongkong Disneyland and Hongkong International Airport was hassle-free and cheaper because of their MTR.  We have further discovered that there’s a “Group of 4 single-journey ticket”, that’s way too cheaper when purchased at the counters rather than an individual single entry ticket purchased at the machines.  This would however apply only in groups of more than four, making it budget friendly for the family.


A family destination

The unique culture, cuisine and landmarks of Hongkong draw the interest of tourists around the world.  But more than that, it has become the most feasible destination that would be enjoyed by the entire family. 


Winter in Hongkong is my first travel destination for this year and I’m glad I experienced it with my entire family.


You May Also Like

0 comments