Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Homeward Bound
(Backdated post from Singapore)

Ah... our last day in Hong Kong. Today we will pick up our preordered pastries and do any last minute shopping before heading home. We ended up having a dimsum breakfast and I was absolutely infatuated with this dish called Teochew Glutinous Rice Rolls. Incredibly delicious (ok so I am a nut for glutinous rice) I was sad cos I have never seen it in Singapore and I would miss it if I can't find it back home.

Waltzed back to the hotel and collected our pastry orders along the way. We were somewhat late for the bus (hey hey hey 5 girls in Hong Kong, what do you expect???), rushed to do the checkout and boarded the bus. The bus driver was not pleased with having to wait for us, but heck it if I care at this point in time.

However there is this sign on the bus that I feel EVERYONE should see.

We reached the airport rather early so we had could check in at leisure and shop a bit. However... we had a very very very very long walk to our boarding gate! We walked for near 30 minutes before we reached it. No wonder I saw buggies available at HKD40 and I was wondering why. There may even be free transport as I had seen a sign pointing down an escalator that said it led to our gates, but we chose to stay on the level..... and walk... and so I will not know unless I go to Hong Kong again. Anyway whoever said that the Hong Kong International Airport is well designed, is probably nuts. Maybe it looks nice... but distance within the airport is ridiculous.

Uneventful trip back home except my friend had an eye on someone on the flight... *giggles*. Ah.... home. There's no place like home..............

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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Freely sauntering through Hong Kong
(Backdated post from Singapore)

Today, my travel mates are going to the beach. They are going to Stanley beach and then on to Stanley market. As I am not a big fan of shopping, coupled with the fact that I wish to avoid the sun as much as possible (due to consumption of medication) I told them that I would go Temple visiting and meet up with them later in the day to go to "Lover's Rock" which is the requested destination for one of my friends.

First stop of the day, Wong Tai Sin Temple again. I went to the shopping centre next to it and proceeded to take some shots of the temple compound from above. From this point, I could see that there is quite an area behind the temple building itself that we had not explored on our previous visit as I had thought it was only a small garden at that time.

I went in, offered incense and took my time walking around the newly discovered area. It's a nice landscaped area, very quietly away from the hustle and bustle of the temple proper. I was walking along enjoying myself when I came across a dead bird (probably a sparrow, but I really could not tell). I walked off... but felt bad that the bird might be stepped on by countless other people, so I got a piece of scrap paper and managed to move to the side onto the soil. Of course, being the nurse that I am, I immediately located the nearest washing point and washed my hands, even though I had no access to soap.

Next stop was Tin Hau Temple at Tin Hau MTR Station. This is a fairly modern temple and I wouldn't recommend going there specifically to view the architecture since it's pretty new looking to me. It was kinda tough on my own cos I do not speak cantonese and the temple keep doesn't speak mandarin, but I managed to obtain incense and offer prayers. There was a beggar guy just outside the temple who helped me place my incense in the urn outside (I didn't want him to but he did) so when I left I was obligated to give him some money. Please note that I do not usually do this, nor do I recommend this behaviour. Leave beggars alone at all times.

Next I went to the Man Mo Temple at Central. In order to get there, I had to climb a flight of stairs that looks like this.
Did I not see this somewhere before....?
Does this look familiar? Oh my god.... by the time I was done with it.. I was nearly going..."THANK GOODNESS that was OVER!"

Apparently the Man Mo Temple is the oldest temple in Hong Kong, well, by the looks of it I would not doubt it. It is a recommended place to go to in Hong Kong, unless of course for some reason you are against anything Taoist, then I would say... save the trip.
Old...... way old......
While I was looking at the front facade of the temple I could imagine it back when it would have been surrounded by fields, open space and buildings of a similar design, rather then the high rises that surround it now. It does look that old.

Coils of Incense, Spools of Prayers and Hopes The Urns.....
I wanted to offer the coiled incense, but from what I could make out of the notices, they put them up on certain days (as it takes days to burn up each coil) and I was not there on the right day I figured.... heck it ^^

Oh yes and it's nice to meet people who speak Teochew to you ^^ Though I didn't really speak much anyways ^^

It was also at this temple that I met one of my travel mates who did not follow the rest to the beach. What a coincidence. A rather divine one at that but I'll cut the crap and cut to the chase. Anyways, we met up with the rest and went off to the Lover's Rock. NOTE: There is no bus service to the Lover's Rock. ANOTHER NOTE: Take a TAXI. We wanted to walk there, and we had already started and then I said I had this feeling that the rock was in an elevated area as we had read the map earlier. As we decided to check the map to know where we needed to go, two Hong Kong Policemen came over and offered their help. They told us that we could not walk there and that we should take a cab over. They also offered further advice on night views at Victoria Peak (aww... but we had already gone ^^). I do wonder if the SPF will do the same. Maybe I should whip out a map in front of one of them sometime. I do believe that the Hong Kong Police has a Tourist Information Course in their training ^^.

YET ANOTHER NOTE: The Lover's Rock is a serious trek. After alighting from the Taxi, we had to walk about another 3 km. That's a rough estimation. It was humid and we all ended up perspiring like nobody's business. Unless you have an agenda, I suggest skipping this. Also to save you the walk to see what it looks like, here it is.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com Image hosted by Photobucket.com

We ended up taking a cab back to the hotel cos we didn't want to stink up the MTR, so we decided to stink up the cab instead. So sorry, Mr cab driver. Dinner was a feast of pigeon, goose, chicken and instant wanton noodles. Yummy.

Rested up, packed, tomorrow we will be heading home to Singapore.

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Monday, May 16, 2005

Lantau Island..... No mean feat
(Backdated post from Singapore)

Today, we head to Lantau Island. We will be heading to Po Lin Temple, this is where that huge gigantic Buddha is located.

First, We have to figure out where to take the ferry from. We ended up at the Star Ferry pier. Please note that this is the WRONG pier if you want to go to Lantau Island. You have to go to another pier just next to it for the ferry trip. The cost of the ferry trip depends on whether it is an express ferry and also the peak/offpeak seasons. After about 30 mins, we reach Lantau Island, now we begin the exciting hunt for the bus to the temple... thankfully it was not that difficult. We made our way to the temple. In order to go up all the way to the giant Buddha you need to buy tickets. You may also purchase meal tickets at a total cost of 60HKD. I suggest skipping the meal there unless you are really hungry. The food...... sucks. Totally bland, tastless but ultra oily vegetarian food. Do a kind deed and don't waste the food.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Anyway we made our way up to the giant Buddha, took the required photos and visited the exhibition hall they had. My friend discovered that Anita Mui was actually interred there! For the rest of the time, I spent it contemplating how many people can't tell the difference between Taoism and Buddhism. I don't know about Hong Kong, but this situation is RAMPANT in Singapore. So many Taoist do not know they are Taoists but instead claim they are Buddhist. That's fine and dandy... but when you hear some of the comments they make.... that makes you really want to laugh in their faces.

The clouds really hang just over you here.
Almost Heaven
Very nice place. I wish I could visit a Taoist temple like this....
Also, this is a shot for you Chinese Orchestral people.....

Piping Hot Incense Pot
The sign explained

At the end of the temple excursion, we took a bus back to the ferry terminal, however, we had just missed the ferry and would have to wait about an hour for the next one. A suggestion was made to take a bus to thearea near the Airport and try to take the MTR. In order to pull this off, the bus ride would have to be shorter then the wait for the ferry, and that's not counting the MTR ride against the ferry ride. It really felt like
The Amazing Race where one tries alternative transport in a bid to beat the timing by just a bit. By my calculations however, I think we ould have been better off waiting for the ferry, but hey, it was fun triapsing around the place and seeing the local scenes.

Point to note. Transportation on Lantau Island is expensive. Make sure you have enough money on you or your octupus card before venturing further!! The bus trip to the temple costs 25 HKD (~5 SGD) one way, the bus ride to airport/city are costs about 20HKD so all in all, we probably spent about 150HKD (~SGD31) getting to and around Lantau Island alone.

Tomorrow is another day.

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Sunday, May 15, 2005

Eat, Buy, Eat, Buy..... II!
(Backdated post from Singapore)

Today is the second shopping day. After we went to Victoria Peak, we went to Times Square (Shopping Centre) and Temple Street. Went to this really cool Japanese restaurant for lunch... Very nice decor plus they had Latin music instead of the required J Pop music you get everywhere else.

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The Pearl of The Orient

I am now posting form the Pacific Coffee joint on Victoria Peak. This is my second time up on the peak, the first being on Friday when we came up to see the night view, but it was so misty it was rather pointless. Today we came up here to view the Madame Tussaud's Gallery in Hong Kong.

So far, it is my 4th day (third full day) in Hong Kong. Will be returning to Singapore on Wednesday. We landed right in the Cheung Chau Bun Festival, which is supposed to be from the 13th to 17th of May (my trip is from 12th to 18th May - isn't it fated??) However, my fellow travellers do not want to jouin the crush. I share the idea, but am terribly disappointed that we will be giving it a miss as it seems to be planned for us >.<;

First full day, we went to Wong Tai Sin, highlight of the trip, then we went to Ocean Park, followed by The Peak. Second day was shopping day, and today (third day) seems to be shopping after this. I don't really like to shop, but oh well.

Will try to get things organiused when I return to Singapore.

And I have an infected thumb since just before arriving here.... the pain... the pain......

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Saturday, May 14, 2005

Buy, Eat, Buy , Eat.....
(Backdated post from Singapore)

Today.... we hit all the shopping areas. I'm not much of a shopper myself so....

Anyway first we went to the Jade market... That went over my head and I really believe that jade is much much cheaper in Mainland China.

Next we went to a shopping centre which name I had forgotten, strolled around... HK teens are into punk fashion, quite unlike the 'lian' style in Singapore. Next stop was Ladies Street. This is basically a bazaar (Pasar Malam for all you localites) where they have 20 stalls selling the same stuff. You'd see some stuff you won't see in a Singapore Pasar Malam though.

After all that humongous shopping....... we headed back to hotel. Tomorrow seems to be another shopping day.

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Friday, May 13, 2005

Dun Pray Pray!!!
(Note: This is a backdated post from Singapore)

Woke up at.... uh..... 0715ish?? Washed up and prepared to go to Wong Tai Sin Temple!! Hehehe!! Mode of transport will be via the MTR. I'm rather excited as this will be my first MTR ride. I like how they have route map with lights to indicate the direction and the station that the train is at. They also have announcements in 3 languages, which are obviously... Cantonese, Mandarin and English.

On the way to the MTR.... we see the iconic electric buses (not sure what they actually call them in Hong Kong... but I hope you get my drift....) so I HAD to take a picture.....
Elektrik Bus

Reached Wong Tai Sin... and I tell you.. this place is amazing. They have Wong Tai Sin Estate, Wong Tai Sin MTR, I think Wong Tai Sin Road..... and....

Saintly Shopping
Wong Tai Sin Shopping Centre.... >.<; Talk about fervent adoration..... Anyways, we get a very kind.. uhm... policeman? or some security types ( I can't recognise their Police yet) we explained about Wong Tai Sin Temple. He explained (in cantonese naturally) that Wong Tai Sin Temple was in the compound of Sik Sik Yuen, which actually housed a number of other Taoist Temples and is considered a Taoist Sanctuary in Hong Kong. He also suggested going up the nearby shopping centre to get a bird's eye view of the compound. Entrance to Sik Sik YuenMain entrance of Wong Tai Sin TempleGetting Closer to Wong Tai Sin
The Shrine proper
Ah Ha! Proof that I am at Wong Tai Sin TempleAn activity you MUST do at Wong Tai Sin.. but I didn't cos I was a coward.

Wah.... after all that praying... our next stop is Ocean Park. Basically it's a marine coservation park which is open to public.. has some neat amusement rides. I didn't take the rides though. The entrance ticket to Ocean Park is like HK16o or something like that.... NOT cheap at all. However it was worth it as Ocean Park will be closed for renovations lasting 3 years soon.
Ocean Conservation at Ocean Park

Also Ocean Park is divided into 2 parts (headlands and lowlands), you can get to and fro via free cable car serviices provided. Mind you it's not for the faint of heart!

Pretty normal looking eh?The view is getting greatNow try and beat THIS view!!!

Spent a few hours in Ocean park... looking at the Seals.. Sea Lions.... the Seal and Dolphin show.

After that, grabbed a bus, went back to city and headed off to Victoria Peak. It was so misty on Victoria Peak that I couldn't get any good nigt shots of the Island.... I was so disappointed. Spent some time messing around there... had dinner... headed back to hotel...... yakked in hotel..... zzzzzzzzz

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Thursday, May 12, 2005

Hong Kong Hong Kong!
(Note: This is a backdated post from Singapore)

Got up real early today..... Luckily my Pa had the taxi all day yesterday so he can use the taxi anytime today.... so.. ah Pa drove me to pcik up my friends in Yishun....and we headed off to the Airport.

We reached there at ungodly 0645 hrs >.<; Well, we wanted to have an early flight... and I guess you can't beat a flight that leaves at 0805hrs........... Pretty uneventful flight to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific, but the leg space was horrible and when the front passenger reclined his/her seat... I was left crossing my eyes trying to watch the TV screen which is now like 5 inches from my nose. Played some Final Fantasy for an hour or so before landing. First impression on arrival in HKIA. Hummph. Nothing much. Can't see why it's like so new and looks not very new. Anyway it was only a short walk to the immigration counters and to the arrival hall. We were to meet the travel agency people who would bring us to our hotel. We also bought ourselves the 'Octopus Card', this is like the EZ-Link in Singapore,,, or should I say that the EZ-Link in Singapore is like this... cos I am sure this is the earlier product.... By the way, you can ge a FULL REFUND when you decide to return the card. That's right. FULL. 100%. No charges on owning the card. Zilch. Nadda. After which we were supposed to go to Wong Tai Sin Temple after lunch. I have my doubts on being able to catch this schedule but we will try anyway. The bus took us on a mini tour through Lantau Island (where the airport is), Kowloon (to drop off other tourists) and finally Hong Kong Island. Our hotel is Newton Inn Hotel in North Point but there was a misunderstanding and we were brought to Newton Hotel instead. Fortunately, the hotel staff were able to locate the driver and get him to drive us to the right hotel. On arrival in our hotel... We are located right in the middle of market! This is interesting. We had several Pork shops, and shops that sold fish, veges, fruits and various stuff. I certainly don't mind the locale, as it was near an MTR station. North Point MTR station naturally ^^

A sign opposite our hotel
A sign opposite our hotel

In the end, we explored the surrounding area and did not go to Wong Tai Sin. Uneventful first day in Hong Kong. We will go to Wong Tai Sin Temple first thing tomorrow morning. Happiness!

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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Final Farewell

I went to Istana today to attend the State Funeral of Mr Wee Kim Wee. Well, I guess you could say attend. Basically, you start lining up in front of Plaza Singapura, and wait in line to go through a security check at the Istana. After you clear the Istana Security Check, you get in line for a shuttle service ride to the main building itself. Then you get in line to sign in a guest book. I left a message "Dearly Missed. Be at Peace". Afterwhich, you get in line to view Mr Wee, who was in the State Room, and pay your last respects to him. I did not see his full face, just the side of his face featuring his closed eye and nose, though I was positioned near to his head. Well, I didn't really want to see his face anyway,... I just wanted to go and pay my last respects. Though after my mum said that she saw his face (she said that he was the nicest looking embalmed person she ever saw). I kinda regretted not taking the opportunity to see him properly. Following that, you leave the State Room and hop onto a shuttle service to leave the Istana.

While I was waiting outside, I SMS'ed my friend "Guess where I am"

Amazingly, she got it right. What's more, she was also in the queue. She was further up front and she had brought a bouquet of white lilies which she placed just outside the Istana, along the wall. I was disappointed that I did not bring any flowers, but... er... well... er.... I DID go home straight from work and go down to Istana... er.. that counts for something?? ... Yes?? >.<; Oh well.


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Monday, May 02, 2005

Passing of a President

Mr Wee Kim Wee, Ex-President has passed away today. It has been so long since his stint as President, but I do feel some sense of regret and disappointment to read about his passing. He was the first president I ever knew about, and he seemed ever friendly. Wait a minute, they all seem friendly. Anyway, he is best remembered as a People's President, a simple man. He doesn't seem to have airs, and.... enough of all that, here's an article for your reading pleasure.

Prime Minister's Office has announced that all Government buildings will have their flags at half mast from 3rd of May till 6th of May, when Mr Wee's body will be cremated. His body will be at the Istana for the public to pay their last respects till 5th May, which, incidentally is Navy Day.


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