Traveling in Hong Kong on a Shoe String Budget.

Sep 15

Like a small boy queuing for his first movie in a cinema, the sight of tall buildings covered with assortments of neon lights trying to reach the sky from the ferry’s small window makes me feel like jumping around in excitement. The journey took more than 1 hour. When it finally berthed at the ferry terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui, it was already dusk. It took me a few moment to realize that I am actually in Hong Kong. Seeing Hong Kong from my very own eyes is very much different from seeing it through the Hong Kong TV drama I used to watch when I was younger. It was so much more beautiful and colorful in real life.

With no preparation or research what so ever before that, I am a stranger in a strange city. Only guided by a free tourist map from a tourist counter near the ferry terminal, I walked into an array of urban jungle looking for a place to stay. Lucky for me, the locals speak Cantonese and most of the sign boards are in English. At times, I felt like I was in KL. But that’s where the similarity ends. The only accommodation I can afford is guest house. Even that cost almost the same with a 3 stars hotel with sea view in Penang.


Concrete jungle

Food

Like the accommodation, the food is also relatively more expensive compare to my home town. A simple meal of rice with one dish and drink at road side food stall may cost HK$30. Bottled drinking water is also cost a bomb. Refilling your empty bottles in your guest house before leaving is a good idea. Hong Kongers love their dim sum. You can have dim sum practically at any hours. But be aware that the price of the same dim sum dish at certain restaurant may differ according to the time you ordered. Because of the unusually more expensive food compare to the one I can get from home, I found out the best value for money place to have your meal is at fast food restaurant such as McDonald. After currency conversion, it costs almost the same with the one in Malaysia.


Having brunch at road side stall selling porridge and ‘yau char kuay’ in Temple Street.


Red bean pie from McDonald.

Moving Around in Hong Kong

If you think Singapore’s public transport system is great, wait until you see Hong Kong’s version. Hong Kong has the most impressive public transport system I have ever seen. What impresses me most is the MTR (Mass Transit Railway). It is a huge network of subway system interconnecting major parts of the city. With the MTR, busses and trams, I can visit every places of interest in Hong Kong on my own. With Octopus card (Hong Kong version of Malaysia’s Touch and Go card) it makes traveling even more convenient. Without the card, your pocket will be full of coins unless you don’t mind let the bus keep the change. The card is widely accepted not only in MTR, but also buses, 7-eleven, McDonald and most convenient stores. Remember to get a refund of whatever balance left in the Octopus card before leaving Hong Kong. The cheapest way to sight seeing the city in Hong Kong island is via the century old tram. It only cost HK$2 flat.


The MTR subway station.


Century old tram.

Even though taxi is the most convenient way to travel, it is not cheap for a lone traveler like me. I learned that Hong Kong has 3 types of taxi. Each with different color. The most common type we see in Hong Kong movie or drama is the red one, which is the Urban Taxi. It is the most expensive of all 3. The other 2 are green taxi (New Territories) and blue taxi (Lantau).


The red urban taxi

Shopping in Hong Kong

It is true. You can shop till you drop in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is indeed a shopping haven. Where ever you go, you can find places to shop. Shopping complexes are so huge it might takes one whole day just to cover one shopping complex (mental note to myself: don’t bring girlfriend or wife to Hong Kong). If shopping complexes are not enough to satisfy your desire (or inflict enough damage to your wallet), head down to night markets such as ‘Miu Kai’ (Temple Street), Mongkok and Ladies’ Market. I bought my Asus EEE PC 900 in Wanchai Computer Center. The model came to Hong Kong 2 months before it is available in Malaysia.


Mongkok


Ladies’ market

Best view of Hong Kong

Take the peak tram to Victoria Peak and treat yourself to this view…

The tram’s 2-way ticket cost HK$33. You need to pay additional HK$15 if you want to go to the Sky Terrace. Sky Terrace is actually the roof top of the tram’s peak station. If you want to avoid the crowd and save some money like me, you can venture out and walk 20 to 30 minutes on a trail leading toward Peak Garden. The city scape is always on your right. On your left is hill slope covered by trees. The view is better and more peaceful. You can sit down on the road side taking your sweet time indulging in the glittering world below.


The peak tram.

The kid in you

Between Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park, I rather choose Ocean Park. In my opinion, Disneyland is more suitable for children. I also receive a lot of feedback that Disneyland is actually quite lame. When I was a kid, I used to watch Ocean Park in Hong Kong’s movie with amazement. To make my childhood dream come true I decided to visit Ocean Park and let the kid in me run wild. I took like 4 roller coaster rides, watch the dolphin show, visited the marine center, took the cable car ride and do a lot of fun stuffs. Time actually fly when you are having fun. It took one whole day. It is actually almost similar to Sentosa in Singapore. The price is HK$208 which include entrance fee and bus ride. Most rides and shows in the park are free.


The dolphin show in Ocean Park.


Jelly fish exibition.


Cable car ride in Ocean Park.


First encounter with panda bear.

Lantau Island

Tired with shopping malls, crowded places and all the skyscrapers, I decided to venture out of the urban area into Lantau Island. This is where the International Airport, Hong Kong Disneyland and Poh Lin Monestary located. The journey to Lantau Island took longer than expected. Since I have decided not to waste my time in Disneyland and I am not taking any flight home, so I went to Poh Lin Monastery. I took a bus to the monastery from Tung Chung MTR station. The bus fare was HK$30. The few hours bus ride took me through hill slope with a lot of greenery, a refreshing change of environment in Hong Kong. The entrance fee to the museum was HK$23 which includes vegetarian meal ticket.


The World’s largest outdoor seated bronze Buddha statue.


View from inside the Poh Lin monastery.

Horse Racing

It seems like most Chinese are obsessed with gambling. It is not much different in Hong Kong. However, gambling is only legal through the Hong Kong Jockey Club and on certain sports. Before I proceed my journey to Macau, coincidentally it was a horse racing day in Sha Tin racecourse. So I decided to try out my luck on the racecourse before putting my luck to test in Macau’s casino. How much did I bet? HK$20 on horse number 5 and 8. Did I win? Hell no. So much for a beginner’s luck.


Sha Tin racecourse.


Hong Kongers’ favorite past time.

Here are more photos taken in Hong Kong…


Hong Kong map. Highlight of interesting places I went.

Well, hopefully I have better luck in Macau later tonight!

2 comments

  1. Jaemmae /

    Ocean park seems like a better choice compared to Disneyland.

    Both times i went to hk, the tour didnt include Ocean park. What a bummer. Well, hk govt promotes Disneyland heavily cos they own shares in it. Too bad not as nice as the ones in Jap or US.

  2. True, there are lots of amazing sights, great shops and good food in Hong Kong. By the way, don’t forget to bring your camera or video cam so you won’t miss the fun and the great views, if you have plans of Traveling to Hong Kong.

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