When traveling abroad, we believe in learning the etiquette, immersing ourselves in the ethnicity, joining in the local lifestyle and indulging the regional cuisine. We gobble in neighborhood restaurants, reside in traditional accommodation, travel on local subways, and talk to the people of the country. Our trips are designed the way we enjoy traveling. We travel as how a group of close friends would, roaming together to experience a culture in a momentous and personal way. We can entertain ourselves. And we perfect the world we travel in. Free and easy is our style, navigating our way with maps and guides. We can go all day at a steady pace and stop for breaks of local tea and muffins.We sleep no earlier than 12 and rise no later than 8. And we don’t stop till we’re home again.

Niza & Shiella A.

The Peak


One of the best parts of Hong Kong has got to be being at the top of The Peak. You can have the option of taking the bus or the tram to reach the top. We took the tram and it was all worth it! The journey up was simply wow. You MUST take the peak tram if you're ever planning to visit Hong Kong. The Peak was also pretty flooded with 'ang mohs'...most of whom were checking us out hahahahaha!

Well, the uphill walk in search of The Peak was a long and tiring one. We were breathless and The Peak was nowhere in sight!

See how the roads are all slanted and the houses are all built on high grounds? Genius construction.

We walked on a little bit more and we finally saw a sign that points to the left!

Yay, we found it! That's where we got our combo tickets to The Peak and Madame Tussauds. We saw a lot of people in suits and formal wear...we wondered why....probably attending some event 'cause we sure didn't see them up at The Peak...

While waiting for the tram, we 'chooped' our place otherwise we might get left behind and have to wait for the next tram. We're not 'kiasu' but there were a lot of tourists from China who were damn rude. They shoved and pushed their way in and teach their kids to do the same...and when we gave them a hard look and told them off, they acted like they did nothing wrong. There were a lot of 'ang mohs' too but they were very polite. Well, most of them at least. They don't push and shove their way through...but then again, they didn't need to...looking at their sizes....you have no choice but to give way or you'll get squashed like a cockroach.



The Tram!



While we were on the tram, we saw this CUTE lil' pretty baby...she's got these big blue eyes and the sweetest smile! We couldn't get a sharp picture of her 'cause she kept moving about. She is so adorable...like one of those dolls on a shelf at the toy store. I wanted to take her home!
(P/s: When I was baby, I had blue eyes too...hehe! :p)

Nope, I didn't tilt the camera...just that everything looked slanted when we were in the moving tram. We got a bit of ear pressure too at a higher point. We headed for Madame Tussauds first(see previous post on 'Meet the Stars' - May archive). After that, we went about 2 or 3 escalators up to the roof to reach The Peak. Once you're at the top, the view is TRULY beautiful. We were there at night so we could see the lighted up buildings and the moon shining over....oh I don't how to describe it but it was really pretty. The strong breeze and cold air probably froze our camera...so a lot of pics came out blurry. We loved The Peak. The view was magnificent...although I was afraid of heights...hehe...but i do wanna try jumping out of a plane someday :D ...with a parachute of course! Sky diving! Thrilling!

This is how Hong Kong Island looks like at night from atop.


There were these big houses on the hills like what you see in the picture above. We think it's where the super rich people live.

Pretty by the moonlight.....a beautiful night...

We came out of the washroom and discovered a door that led to a pathway where we can take a walk out and climb the stairs to somewhere...we didnt bother to explore around 'cause we were too cold and wanted to get back inside the buiding. The wind was very strong that night. Check out my latest lion hairdo. Haha.


Back in the building, we found this place that was nice to just relax and enjoy a warm drink for a bit. Especially after walking around so much for days and days...we appreciated the short break...our poor feet needed it. Shiella and I shared a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallow bits! Did I already mention that Hong Kong has some really nice yummy sweet stuffs? :D Oh and we brought home their serviettes as souvenirs! We were planning to put those together with our pics in a nice album...hmm...I wonder if we'll ever get that one done...

From where we were seating, we could see the Symphony of Lights show which starts at 8pm nightly. Will tell you more about that one in my next post!

TRAVEL INFO

How we got there:

There are 3 ways to get there.

1) By Peak Tram *Recommended!*- Take the Peak Tram to the Peak Tower.

2) By Bus -
Route No. 15 - First Bus
Central (Exchange Square) to The Peak
Daily: 6:15am - 12:15am (from Central)
Daily: 7:00am - 1:00am (from The Peak)
Frequency: 13-30 minutes

Route No. 15B - First Bus
Tin Hau to The Peak
Sundays and Public Holidays only :
10:00am - 7:00pm (from Tin Hau)
10:40am - 7:40pm (from The Peak)
Frequency: 20 minutes

3) By Mini Bus - Minibus No. 1
Central (Two IFC) to The Peak
Daily: 6:30am - 12:00am (from Central)
Daily: 7:10am - 12:25am(from The Peak)
Frequency: 10-12 minutes


Opening hours: Viewing Terrace, Sky Gallery Roof Top (10am-11pm)

Admission Fee: Admission is free for Viewing Terrace and Sky Gallery Roof. The only fees you have to pay is the ride up to The Peak, depending on which of the 3 modes of transport you choose.

1) Peak Tram: HK$22 (Single), HK$33 (Return). We bought the package combo (Madame Tussauds + 2-Way Peak Tram Ride) which is much cheaper.

2) Bus: HK$9.2 (Route No. 15), HK$9.1 (Route No. 15B)

3) Mini Bus: HK$8

Taxis are also a convenient way of getting to the peak, although it's slightly more expensive compared to the other modes of travel.

For more information, visit http://www.thepeak.com.hk/full/en/peak_tram.php


Shieza A.

Ngong Ping Cable Car Ride


Ok so last time I talked about our visit to Ngong Ping 360 to see the world's largest man made buddha. Just wanna share a short crazy video we took while we were in the cable car. Did I also mention that while we were in the cable car, we got our pic taken by a monkey? They had this fake monkey glued to the wall at both ends of the station...it would take a very quick snap just before you get off the cable car...very clever idea....so tourists like us would spend more money just to buy a picture home. They had this monkey tour at Ngong Ping too where you can watch an animation on the history of the monkeys...we decided to skip that one...

Ok so here it is...our pic with the whole cable car...it's not clear 'cause I took it straight from the photo itself.

Picture of us 3, taken by a fake monkey.

And here's the video...enjoy!



Niza A.

Meet the Stars!


Hong Kong is full of surprises. When we were there, we managed to take a few pics with some celebrities during their red carpet event. Much like what we see on TV, there were reporters and screaming fans everywhere. We were blinded by the lights and camera flashes each time we got a picture taken with celebrities like Aaron Kwok, Leon Lai and Jackie Chan. Very surreal...almost as if we were in Hollywood! I think it was our lucky night...even Michael Jackson was there! Here's a sneak preview.



Haha ok ok you caught us...that all sounded too good to be true, didn't it? These are wax figures at Madame Tussauds.

See that unhappy look on his face? I'll tell you a secret...Mr. hot sexy flirtatious David Beckham whispered in my ear and asked me out on a date that night...too bad I had to keep to my schedule so I turned him down...I guess that's why he got married to Victoria! Now someone gimme a reality slap! Haha. Ok back to earth.


Look at this Shiella....flirting with the men.... oh behave! :p

Oh well...at least I still have Einstein...

...and Andy Lau.

Oh and there was Bruce Lee too...he was placed right outside of the entrance to Madame Tussauds. We didnt get to take one with him 'cause he was so pupular with the crowd...everyone wanted to take one with his famous martial arts pose.

While the girls were having fun playing basketball with Yao Ming.....



...I got a one-to-one coaching at golf with the man himself....Tiger Woods ;)



Ok so I'm not holding the club right....but hey...I was getting there!


Hey isn't that Elvis?



...and The Beatles?

...and uh...Marilyn Monroe wannabe?


Yep, that's the royal family.

That's Aisha...the next potential presidential candidate. Don't play play! :P

Oh dear....we had way too much fun in Hong Kong and had to be taken in by the authorities for questioning.
(L-R) Niza: mass murder, Aisha: convicted for being cute, Shiella: drink driving.

After a whole day of fun, we decided it was time to check back into our hotel...and guess what? We bumped into Leon Lai. He gave all three of us a ride back on his old bicycle...how sweet of him...

Of course there were more celebrities like Cher, the late Princess Diana, Spice Girls too I think...Madonna and our Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. We can't put them all up here but you should go see them for yourself at Madame Tussauds if you're planning to visit The Peak in Hong Kong. Will write more about that on my next post!

TRAVEL INFO

How we got there: Alight at MTR Central Station and make your way to the Peak Tram Terminus. The Peak Tram runs every day at St.John's Building Peak Tram Station, including Sundays and Public Holidays, between 7 am and midnight. The tram departs every 15 minutes.

Opening hours:
10 AM to 10 PM daily. Last admission is 9:45 PM.

Admission Fee:
(For Adults)
Regular price : HK$115 (Weekday)
HK$120 (Sat, Sun & PH)

* Recommended!
2 in 1 Combo Package (Peak Tram+Admission Ticket) : HK$125 (Weekday)
HK$130 (Sat, Sun & PH)

Niza A.

Highlights of Hong Kong

Welcome to Hoooooooong Koooooooooooong!!! We always make it a point to visit the best in the country. Hong Kong has quite a bit of the world's biggest and umm...longest. What are we talking about? Well, here are the highlights of our trip.

We visited the World's Loooongest.....

1) Suspension Bridge! (just what were you thinking? :P)
It is known as Tsing Ma Bridge and is much longer than the famous Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Pretty cool huh.

Notice Shiella's toothy grin

There wasn't much to do at Tsing Ma. Only our indulgence to the breathtaking view and the overwhelmingly cool breeze.

TRAVEL INFO
How we got there: Take MTR and alight at Tsing Yi. Follow Exit A1. Take minibus (light bus) no. 308M.
Frequency:
Bus departs once an hour between 10am to 4pm. Last bus leaves at 4.30pm.
Opening hours:
Visitors' Centre: 10am to 6.30pm (Mon - Fri) View Point: 7.30am to 12 midnight (Daily)


Next on the World's Longest list is the...

2) Travelator!



It is also known as the Central-Mid-Levels escalator, supposedly the World's Longest outdoor escalator system in the world. Being 800 m long and 135 m in vertical climb, it takes 20 minutes to reach the other end. This was a little bit of a disappointment. We thought it would be one long continuous escalator.....but it came with so many repeated breaks in between! Apparently, they didn't mention the small roads in between which is obviously needed for vehicles to pass. So much for being the World's Longest!

If anything, it's only great for going up the slope to get to eateries, shopping places and night spots. Definitely better than climbing up the stairs.

TRAVEL INFO
How we got there: MTR station: Central

Look out for signs that directs you to the mid-levels Travelator. (This one was quite confusing. We got a bit lost finding it)
Opening hours: Travelators run one way downhill from 6am to 10am and uphill from 10.20am to midnight. It is best to use it after 9am when the morning rush hour is over.
Admission Fee: Free!

Next, we visited was the World's LARGEST..............
1) B_ _ _ _ _ (make a quick guess!).

.

.

.


Buddha! (Haha now what were you thinking again???)

Situated on Lantau Island, the cable car ride up the mountain was fantabulous! Super Splendid Scenery! We only took in the view of the buddha from afar as we weren't interested in climbling further up for a closer look. This world's largest man-made buddha is said to be visible when you're landing from the plane. We kept a look-out for it when we were landing...didn't see it. We tried a second time when we were going home to Singapore...still saw no buddha. With 3 pairs of eyes, we could have either missed it...twice...or the information we read on it's visibility from the sky is just exaggerated. Nevertheless, it was a nice place to visit. Plus, the locals in this part of HK are friendlier and more polite. Worth a visit!



Being in a Hong Kong, we had to be a bit picky with our choice of food. So of course, the best part was when we finally got our proper satisfying meal of spaghetti, spaghetti and spaghetti! Curry spaghetti, seafood spaghetti and something else (haha was too hungry to remember!). Yep, that's 3 variety of a kind.

TRAVEL INFO

How we got there: Alight at Tung Chung MTR station. Take cable car at Ngong Ping 360.

Opening hours: 10am to 6pm (Mon - Fri)

Admission Fee: HK$145 (Return Skyrail Experience Only)

5 Days Hong Kong Itinerary

We had a 5 days stay in Hong Kong. Pretty short one but enough to see and do as much as we wanted. The one thing we don't go without is a travel itinerary. We never jump on that plane unprepared. Best thing after writing out our itinerary, is that we will always have it to refer back to. Memories of our travels...on paper that is. If you haven't guessed already, we like re-visiting our journeys. Take a peek!

Please bear in mind that the time, fee and routes may be subject to changes depending on your time of travel. Do check with Hong Kong Tourism Board or do some of your own research before planning your trip.

Oh and if you'd like to create your own itinerary but don't know how to start, go to Travel Tips! and click on 'Creating Your Own Itinerary' link.

Communicating Their Language

Sometimes being in a foreign land and not being able to communicate with the locals is like trying to talk to a chicken. You can use any kind of sign language and never get the message across.

Cantonese dialect is the most commonly spoken language in Hong Kong. Although most are able to converse in simple English, it does help to learn a few important phrases for 'survival'. One thing we already had was the Lonely Planet Cantonese Phrasebook. It was so fun trying to pronounce the words and speaking it to the locals. Interesting how some would immediately warm up to us, seeing how eager and how hard we tried to speak their language. In a way, it closes up a bit of the cultural gap.

We actually took this
book with us everywhere we went. It's quite useful especially when trying to communicate with food sellers, stallholders at bazaars and at places like the Ladies Market. It made it much easier to get good bargains on the products they were selling. Even if you can't really find the right words to say!

There was this particular instance when we were buying food at the mall. We wanted to buy a bowl of noodles but we couldn't have any pork in it. So when we said "Does this contain pork?" None of the 3 girls working at the foodstall understood. So my sis, Shiella took out the handbook and said "jue yuk" meaning 'pork' in cantonese. Judging from their confused expressions we knew we didn't get the pronounciation right. After what seemed like 5 minutes, they still could not understand us. Good thing the book came with cantonese characters in writing. We showed them what was written on the page. Immediately, their faces lighted up. They started to smile and together, we burst into giggles at our incessant attempt. They finally understood what we've been trying to say! This book was like a 'weapon' for us. So we definitely recommend it.

Here's where you can get your copy:

And in case you're planning a trip to China as well, here's a mapyou might want to bring along:

Niza A.

Travelicious

Mango Dessert

We LOVE travelling. When we do, the best part is when we get to savour the tastiest local food and delicacies. First up....on our most recent trip to Hong Kong. Oooh! You simply can't miss the dessert shop! We don't remember what they call it in their language but this dessert shop can be found almost anywhere.

Shiella loves the red bean sago deliciously drowned in coconut milk. I simply LOVE LOVE LOVE the mango dessert with glutinous rice balls and mango ice-cream. They have a few variations but this was the one I like best. It can't be missed! Nothing else is as good. The price you pay for your choice of a bowl of dessert would probably cost as much as one Macdonald's meal. That sure didnt stop us from popping in and gulping down cold dessert (on a cold weather) 3 days in a row. We were so crazy about it we even made the dessert shop our last stop before heading back to the Airport.


While there, we tried something savoury too. Fried rice cake which is actually just glutinous rice with mushrooms which you dip in spicy chilli before putting a portion into your mouth. Yumm...Just saying it makes me drool.

Wife Cakes

Back at the airport, we bought wife cakes to bring back home as gifts. We hear it tastes pretty good. Think it's worth a try. If you're wondering why the name 'wife cake'...well legend has it that back in China, a daughter-in-law offered herself for sale in return for money to cure her ill-health father-in-law. In a desperate atempt to redeem his spouse, the husband created a gourmet cake to sell. Proceeds were saved and he soon bought his wife back and they lived happily ever after. This story then spread from place to place and it became known as the 'wife cake'. Sweet eh? :)


These are actually pastry layers filled with either traditional, white lotus seed paste, honey and green tea or red bean paste. We bought a whole bag full of 'em, plus some tea and sweet stuff.

Haha and that would be me looking weird, carrying a ton of pastries with only my right hand. I may seem petite but I'm strong alright :p


Niza A.


Planning Your Trip

Creating Your Itinerary



Of course we don't always follow our schedule strictly. That explains some of the blank spaces you see in our itinerary. It's not that we have no idea what to do...it's just to allow a bit of room for spotaneity ;). We don't always wake up on time. Sometimes we miss the bus or train. Our journey gets delayed each time one of us gets hypnotized into entering a shop on the way to our destination.

The most important thing is that we enjoyed ourselves and made the most of our trips. We don't let the itinerary control us. If we feel like changes need to be made, then by all means, we would. Remember, it is only there as a guide, to facilitate your travel and to cut guessing time. We always have our itinerary and do all our homework before getting on the plane.

So how do you write your own itinerary? Follow our 5 simple steps to get you started:

1.) Get to know the country.

There are numerous places you can find information. Travel books, internet, brochures, etc. Head to the library or bookshop. Do your homework. Talk to friends who have travelled to the country and get their recommendations. Although it may seem like a hassle, knowing a bit about the country's history and culture would make your trip much more fruitful and worthwhile. There are many ways you can go about doing it. We've only mentioned some.

2.) List out on paper:

(a) Places to visit (Look out for recommendations of 'must see' and 'must go').
(b) Things to do (Shopping, sightseeing, etc).
Arrange your list according to priority. Depending on the number of days you are travelling, you might have to cross out a few places. Do not try to squeeze too many places in a single day. We recommend travelling 2 to 4 places at most in one day. You'll definitely discover a new place in the area which you'll want to explore. So it's best to give yourself just enough time.

3.) Note operating days and hours.

There is nothing more disappointing than to finally reach a desired destination only to find it closes early. Worse still it is closed on the day you came to visit. Always know beforehand to avoid wasted time.

4.) Plan your route.

If you're taking the bus, know which bus service takes you in the direction. If going by train or boat, take note of their time regularity. If driving by yourself, study the route map. (It is best if you already know where you will be staying. You can then arrange the start of your routes accordingly). Write them all down in an easy-to-carry notebook if you need to. This may come in handy during your journey.

5.) Allocation of time.

This is determined by:
(a) Knowing how long it will take to get from one place to another.
(b) Deciding how much time you will spend at one location.
(c) Take meal times into consideration.

Phew! Pretty long winded huh. Well, when you have a rough idea of all the above, you can then start to write or type them out into an excel sheet. With all the information you have read and collected, you will slowly start to see your itinerary building up and soon, you'll be all set to hop on that plane!

Now that you have a bit of idea on creating your own travel itinerary, you should also know how to do your own budgeting. We will discuss that in the next Travel Tips. So stay tuned!

Tip:
Once it's complete, you might want to print a fresh copy to be stored in your new photo album or scrap book. A great way to re-visit your memories on paper!

*Please bear in mind that the time, fee and routes may be subject to changes depending on your time of travel. Do check with Hong Kong Tourism Board or do some of your own research before planning your trip.