Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Hong Kong: Zipidee do dah... zipidee ay!

My oh my, what a wonderful day! Hehe! I'll tell you more about the photo on the left later. But you've guessed it, I was in Hong Kong today.

Anyway, I woke up this morning two hours behind schedule. My body was just too exhausted. As soon as I was able to muster enough energy to get up, it was off to the Red Market to look for some local products. Finding what I needed, it was back walking again to complete my rounds of the UNESCO structures in Macau. From the market, the first stop was the Protestant Cemetery. It was a very plain, nondescript place. I wonder why it was included in the inscribed sites when St. Michael's was more impressive. Beside it was supposedly the Casa Garden, but it was also being restored. Schmuck!

So it was back to my regular route, from St. Anthony to St. Paul. This time, I took time out to check out their museum. It's the same religious art we have here in the Philippines. But I was struck by the crypt where the remains of the martyrs of Japan and Vietnam are enshrined. However, what appalled me was the fact the center of the crypt had been converted into a virtual wishing well. And the sad part is that most tourists, usually Chinese or Japanese, didn't know any better and threw their coins as if it were target practice, which I feel desecrates the sanctity of the crypt area. So much for the calls for respect outside.


I had three more sites to go to complete the twenty five, the Fortaleza do Monte, Lou Kau Mansion and the Sam Kai Vui Kun Temple. Just check out my photos or this website to read all about these sites. Now that I had that done, it was time to think of what to do for the afternoon. After much reflecting, I decided that I didn't want to shop and thus save money. So it was a trip to Hong Kong for some sightseeing!

I got to the ferry terminal at about 2 p.m. just in time for the 2:30 p.m. ferry to the former British colony. The trip to HK is approximately an hour so I got there at about 3:30 p.m. But I wasn't able to start going around immediately since there were no maps or brochures in sight! That was the start of a bad afternoon since I didn't know where to go and what to do. Plus my feet were still killing me!

Since I had been to HK in 1993, my first instinct was to take the MTR to somewhere hoping to see a map. And good thing I asked about the unlimited 24-hour passes for tourists since I remembered we used those before. It costed me HK$50 but it proved to be a good investment. It turns out one ride to Hong Kong Disneyland is already HK$26! So a round trip costs more than the day pass.

With the day pass came suggestions of where to go. Since I've been to Hong Kong Island and Kowloon already, I decided to visit Lantau Island which was now connected to Hong Kong by MTR and bridges. One of the suggested sites was the Lantau Link Visitors Centre where one could view the Tsing Ma and Ting Kau bridges, among the longest in the world. But alas, it proved to be a waste of time since when I got out of the Tsing Yi station, no one could point me to the right bus! So I got back on the MTR to rush to the Big Buddha in Lantau. By the time I arrived, it was 5:20 p.m. The last bus had departed at 5:10 p.m. since the Po Lin monastery closes at 6 p.m. Damn! By this time, it was getting dark so obviously, it was useless to try to see other sites.

Hong Kong Disneyland was on Lantau as well. So I decided to check it out, but only if they had special night tickets. I remembered that during my last visit to Tokyo Disneyland in 2002, we purchased tickets at a reduced price since we entered late in the afternoon. So the photo you see is the entrance to the park. But I didn't enter since I received a shock when I made it to the ticket counter. The lady said HK$295! I asked whether it was the night rate... Oh sorry sir, only one price. I could not fathom the thought that it was the same price for three hours of doing nothing much? Nevermind! It's the same Disney banana anyway. And I'm sure it's nothing compared to Disneyworld! Hehe! But at least I got a feel of the place which GMA and her family had visited just a day earlier. And I liked the dedicated Disney MTR which had mouse shaped windows and was designed like a lounge inside. Good thing I had the unlimited MTR ticket or else I would have thrown away close to HK$100 on wasted travel!

So now what? Maybe I could check out the night market in Mongkok. Never made it. I saw a smaller night market in Yau Ma Tei but nothing much. So I decided to head to Tsim Sha Tsui, another place which was familiar to me since the Toys'R'Us there was heaven to me in 1993. It was there that I saw Hong Kong harbour, and just in time for an astounding lights and sounds show. Imagine the famous Hong Kong skyline, dancing to music, lights in every building, in one big interplay of color! This coordinated feat was a sight to behold and I salute the Hong Kong Tourism Association for it.

The difficult thing about travelling alone is having your picture taken. I've actually mastered the art of taking my own photos using only coins and the timer (about 90 percent of my photos were done on my own) Hehe! But getting a photo of myself with the Hong Kong skyline in the evening was a different story. After several tries by hapless bystanders whom I coerced to take my photo, it was no use. I didn't know how to manipulate the settings to show the lights of the skyline properly. Plus a tripod was essential for such shots. So I gave in to those pesky photographers who had professional digital cameras and who printed photos in 5 minutes. The photo you see costed me HK$30 (P210) for a 3R copy. Damn! But it's the only way I could have gotten a good shot. Hehe!

Before I left Tsim Sha Tsui, I passed by Hard Rock to get my shot glasses. But instead of taking the MTR back to Hong Kong, I took the Star Ferry. You haven't been to HK if you haven't used the Star Ferry to cross the strait at least once. Hehe! By this time, walking was agonizing and I was simply forcing myself to keep on going. After a quick dinner, I decided it was time to call it a day. And I'm back in Macau!

Tomorrow, I fly back to the Philippines. But I'll try to pass by Coloane Island to check out the St. Francis Xavier Chapel. I have to pack now.

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