Friday, January 22, 2010

Hong Kong and Macau Adventure

Sorry for the hiatus as it has been a week or two on not being able to blog. Simply put, I went to another vacation with friends.

The plan was to go to Macau but since Hong Kong is quite near, so we decided to fit it in our itinerary.

Last week's Thursday, January 14, my friends and I met somewhere Holland Drive - where we took a cab going to Changi Airport. Our flight was at around 1 PM but we arrived there at around 12. After arriving at the airport, we immediately look for other friends and we then checked-in some baggage and basically got our tickets. We had our Singapore dollars exchanged to HK dollars. Then we had a light snack at Deli France (it's good for lunch actually). After that, I felt the urge to withdraw more cash so off I went to the closes ATM around the area. After that mini break, off we went to our flight reception. The plane we will be on was Jetstar, where we got some round-trip promo. Upon entering to the waiting lounge, my body wash was beyond 100ml as well as my body spray so the personnel took it from me. Too bad I haven't used those stuff (errrrr stupid me). Anyway, I was not alone as Olga's body lotion was also taken. AFter that, I had some bio break, maybe due to uber excitement and then after some few minutes of waiting, it was already boarding. The plane was an A320 similar to those of other budget airlines. The plane looks old. The flight will be more than 3 hours. SO it's a bit troubling. Once in the air and the stewards were selling food, I ordered sweet and sour fish and red wine. My tummy was already hungry so I must ingest the needed energy. So I can take a good nap, I had a red. The wine was quite good and it's a Shiraz premium Australian wine. Agnes also had wine and loved it too. Well the next minutes were spent in my dreams. 15 minutes or so before landing, I was already awakened. The sky was not clear. In fact, Macau International Airport looked gloomy. The bright sun was not able to penetrate well to the landscape. Anyway, the temperature was at 12 degree Centigrade. We arrived at Macau around 6PM. We were getting excited. We took some visitor's pamphlets and looked for our way out. We did not know where to get our tickets for Hong Kong so Jana asked the information officer. The pier to get to a fast craft going Hong Kong was around 10 minutes walk so we went outside and braved the cold weather. My jacket was not enough to protect me from the cold place. When we arrived at the pier, we immediately bought our tickets and we were able to book for the shortest waiting time for our fast craft. The ticket was at 167 HK dollars. The sea travel was a bit bumpy? Rather, a shaky ride. I can feel my tummy in a carousel and really free wheeling at times. Good thing, I did not puke.... We arrived in Hong Kong a bit dark already and the place was also cold. We did not have to think more as it was evident that we needed to really eat something. Olga, Agnes and I ordered a Japanese shabu-shabu and the rest of my friends had their own individual choices. Our food was served a bit long and since it's a shabu-shabu, we need to boil the ingredients ourselves. The group had to wait for us. Anyway, after that satisfying belly feast, we went out of the pier complex and contracted two cabs. By the way, we were six in the group, and I forgot to mention Cyt, also a Gemalto employee, together with her BF Jun. The cab driver did know the English name of the inn we had and good thing the print out has the Chinese inscription on it. Mind you, their taxis charge for the baggage placed at the trunk so we had to give an extra 10 HK dollars. We arrived at YesInn hostel just in time and then we settled the payment and parked our things. The itinerary for the night is to check some shops or just see the city. We went out of the hostel and then roam the streets? We rode the tram. We also rode their MRT and ofcourse had some photo ops. We went to this mall checked some goodies. We basically checked prices. I found this nice sweater and bought it for 250 HK dollars which was originally at 750 HK dollars. I got a good bargain with it. It seemed that the mall was closing and we still had to do a lot of things the next day so we decided to go back to our place. We arrived at our place a bit lost but not quite as we were able to find our way back to the hostel. We settled in and had some few minutes of talks regarding our adventure for the next day and suddenly there came a girl in our door telling us that she forgot something in our toilet. We were so shocked as she had the password for our room. It was so unexpected as we thought that the room was exclusively for us. We were a bit disappointed as our valuables might be stolen and good thing nothing happened. The problem was the front desk did not inform us way ahead or something but nevertheless, we were really disappointed at Yesinn Hostel. The next day, we were planning to check out and get our advance pay as we did book for two nights and paid everything. We just couldn't trust the hostel for our things. Actually, what we booked was three private rooms but they gave us one big service room and we had no choice as it was a bit dark and a bit late and we just need to park our things. Anyway, after that 6-hour of sleep for most of us, the day began. After everyone has taken their showers and were ready for the day, we planned to get our money but we were not able to get it. We actually paid for two nights so we planned to get the one night advance payment. If I were not mistaken the guy at the reception just told us to file a complaint in their website or something and he was like eating something while talking to us. We even demanded to at least speak to their manager but his alibi was he was not their and that it was their policy not to do refunds or something. Hello for the worse service of a hostel - which is rightfully deserved as it was just a hostel. Anyway, we did not want to be stressed in our vacation so we decided to call it over and not fight with this unmindful guy receptionist. We decided to get a one night stay at Hollywood Hotel at Disney. It was kind of expensive but the service was great. It was all worth it and when we came to the hotel to check in via an hour ride of MTR, we were pleased with what we had. We got two cozy rooms at Hollywood Hotel and it's a seaview, plus, we had a free entrance to Disneyland Hong Kong. After we settled our valuables, we dined at the cafeteria of sorts and then for the next stop, we were going to the Big Buddha. It was just 30 minutes away via the MTR. The ticket was 107 HK dollars round trip via an ordinary cable car to the island of Lantau. The Big Buddha was at the other side of the island and on top of this hillside so after we had that long and fascinating cable ride, we had to walk going to the site. It was a bit sunny but the cool weather made it seemed nice. It was fun taking so many pictures from one corner to the other. Upon reaching at the foot of the hill, their was this long stairway to the Buddha. It was a bit tiring going through the steepest steps but it's worth it. After some sightseeing, we descended and and started to go back to the cable station. We passed by some souvenir shops and checked them out. After buying some nice goodies, we headed back to the cable station. We had a limited time. In fact, we planned to check out some factory outlet shops and also wanted to attend Disney's fireworks display. Once we arrived at the other end of the cable station from Lantau, Olga, Agnes, Jana and I went to this huge mall with Nike, Addidas, Levis, Esprit, Guess etc shops selling factory their goods at factory prices. Cyt and Jun proceeded to somewhere else to purchase lens for their SLR. Anyway, I was able to splurge at Esprit. The selection were amazing. Olga and Agnes shopped all the way at Mango. The prices were really low. These shops are not in Singapore so if you have like extra cash and wanted to shop for a change, I would recommend Hong Kong because of the cheap prices. Anyway, after we finished shopping, we proceeded back to Disneyland. Cyt was like calling us that they were on their way as well. So we planned to just meet at Disneyland. After around 30 minutes, we arrived at our place and its getting 7PM which is the exact time for the fireworks display. We were a bit hungry so we bought some hotdogs with bun with this very tasty Mexican dip. It was just a snack actually, which was supposed to be a dinner.... When the clock struck 7PM, all lights were turned off then viola, the fireworks display began accompanied by some beautiful songs taken from Disney movies. It was a pleasure to watch the show. The kid in us was brought to life and you would not want not to smile in awe. After the show, we checked again some Disney shops. After that, we had some photo session. Since we did not have dinner, we decided to have one at Disney's cafeteria. After the cafeteria, we were a bit tired already so we just headed to our hotel suites and decided to call it a day. We were actually planning to check some night market shops but we were just so tired to doing it.

The next day, we spent it at Disneyland. We checked all the characters and took photos with them. Enjoying every sight and sound at Disney. All of us were back as being kids. This was my first time so personally the trip was really welcomed. My favorite Disney characters were there like the chipmunks and pluto. I never thought that Belle from Beauty and the Best was really beautiful. And what's funny, the characters felt real though logically, they were just acting. It was fantasy land so to speak.

After the Disney character adventure, we had to check out because our next destination is Macau. We have an advanced booking for our hotel so it was not really an issue. We arrived in Macau at around 7PM and we were very hungry. We still have time so once we arrived at our hotel and checked our valuables in our rooms, we went out for dinner. We rode the free shuttle bus from our hotel going to the downtown where area casinos were juxtaposed. The food feast at this authentic Macanese place was nice. I personally enjoyed what I had. Since Macau was colonized by Portuguese, somehow there was a familiar taste and cooking style. Anyway, after that dinner, we checked out the street and the one caught our eyes was the Grand Lisboa Hotel. We decided to try some casino so we went inside searching for slot machines and so we found ourselves at Wynn Hotel. We played a bit and I lost some 40 HK dollars. It was fun though. Some of my friends went winners. Good thing they had free drinks. After spending like two hours in the casino, we headed back to our hotel so we could be ready for the next day's adventure.

Sunday morning came, and the very first things to do were to have shower and eat. Our plan was to walk some bit of Macau history - visiting old streets, shops and temples. We followed the walk trail into the old Macau. The last stop was the Ruins of St. Paul. Ofcourse, no good view had escaped from my friends lenses. After the long trail, we went to shop again for souvenirs. We bought some shirts, some key chains and frames. It's also fun doing some bit of shopping because they were really low priced. After the shopping that we did, we went back to our hotel to get our things as we were going to The Venetian. We were a bit hungry but decided to have our dinner at The Venetian. We arrived their with all of our heavy stuff. After we checked in our valuables at the Venetian concierge, we went to meet Cyt, Jana and Jun and we decided to look for the food court. The hotel is really beautiful. The ceiling was totally amazing which was made to look that you are in the crisp of the morning. Anyway, all of us ordered Japanese food. After dinner, our friends would want to ride the Gondolas so we looked for the ticket booth and found them. Agnes and I went on taking pictures. After the Gondola ride, we checked some shops then we headed to the casino. It was again the slot machine that we were targeting. I personally played 100HK dollars and lost them all. I had fun though and same with my friends. When the clock struck 12, we had to be at the airport as our flight would be at 2AM. The airport was so close that it took us around 20 minutes. Since the checking in of stuff would happen at the next hours, we decided to just talk. Upon boarding, we still had to wait for an hour, so I slept at the airport. It's my first time to be sleeping in a boarding lounge. Jetstar boarding went so smooth while I was there trying to make sense of the world a bit as I just woke up. We were onboard the plane at the exact time and off we went back to Singapore. The ride was a bit bumpy as according to Olga but then I was most of the time asleep so I did not felt a prick. I was really satisfied with that mini vacation.

Anyway, for the pictures, I will upload them some other time as I don't have them yet. Just hang on there okay?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Ice Skating @ Kallang Singapore

Last Saturday, I went with my friends to Kallang. Our plan was to do some first-time skating? This should be an action packed adventure on ice for we are first-timers. This could also mean disaster ....

We took a cab from Buona Vista to Kallang and arrived there at around 7PM. We were a bit lost and found ourselves at the third floor of the building. The entrance fee was around 14SGD if I was not mistaken and we need to pay for the gloves and the socks as well so we shelled out 21 dollars more or less, as one can bring their own equipment.

Warning, the skating shoes had a foul-smell so it's best that you layer your socks and also bring some sanitizers.

Anyway, that did not stop us from enjoying the night. We started to slide a bit while holding on the side-walls of the rink. I said we were first-timers, so we were like snails trying to cling ourselves.... It was fun actually doing that. I happen to get this child's assistance tool so I can practice a bit of my footwork. Olga and I were skating with it for a round. Jason was so excited and began skating while we were still being assisted by the equipment we got. After that round I began to have a bit of confidence. Actually, there were some mishaps as my friends stumble and I bumped myself as I did not know how to stop, to one of the newbie skater. Activities as such wouldn't be fun without the pictures right? And I guess, some bruises ....

We got tired after an hour of doing our stuff. Just a bit satisfied as I was able to skate around the rink for like two to three rounds without any assistance from the side walls or from someone or from anything.

We really enjoyed that simple trip.

Since we got hungry after that fun activity, we went to look for food at their food court but did not like the menu so we headed to Subway and had our dinner.

I like to go back to Kallang to do more skating in a few weeks time with more friends to join us, so it's much funnier. It's going to be really exciting and I can't imagine people falling on ice ... again.

Have a great night everyone. Ciao!!!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Ronald McDonald's Children

Just browsing around youtube looking for some Filipino films and stumbled some of these quite interesting videos.

Interesting indeed, so who's the wife?