Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Hopping Around Hong Kong

A few days before our trip, Aneen asked me to arrange that our seats on the Singapore-Hong Kong flight were situated next to each other. Oh, I forgot to mention that my flight route was Jakarta-Singapore and Singapore-Hong Kong, while hers was Surabaya-Singapore and Singapore-Hong Kong. We really made sure that we booked the same flight code so we could be on the same airplane for the Singapore-Hong Kong leg.

So I did a web check in, and the first thing the check-in counter officer asked on the D-day was: "You have done a web check in, but your seat is in the middle. Would you like a seat by the aisle or the window?"  I told her that it was okay because I would sit next to my friend.

The Jakarta-Singapore flight was okay. I had breakfast, read International Herald Tribune (it's been ages since I last read the newspaper!), and watched Date Night. 

International Herald Tribune's first page was all about Myanmar's new president who did not have ties to the military. 
The movie is funny but speaks truth about marriage.

The option was between fried rice with prawn or chicken omelette. I was hungry, so I opted for the rice

The flight was okay, just like anyone would expect from Singapore Airlines. The great thing about flying with SQ is the transit in Changi, which always feels like a home away from home. The officers are always ready to offer help. After I landed on Changi's Terminal 2, I checked a flight information board to see which gate Aneen's flight would land, but I couldn't place it there. As I was standing with furrowed brows, two young officers came to my side and asked if they could help.

"Well, my friend is supposed to land on Terminal 2, her flight is from Surabaya, but I can't find it there," I said.
"What is the flight code number?" one of them asked.
"SQ 931."
"Ah, the flight has been relocated to Terminal 3, gate A20."

Since the next flight would be at T3, gate A21, I went straight to T3 and waited for Aneen there. Her plane touched down one hour later and we ambled to the next gate. 

I checked HK's weather forecast before the departure and found that the temperature was varying between 15 and 23 Celsius degree. So I brought along a scarf and a jacket. As expected, it was 19 Celsius degree when we touched down in HK.

Hi Mom, I just landed in HK :).

We went to the tourist information center, took the maps, bought Octopus card for transportation and asked the officer on survival tips (ha!). We took S1 bus from the HKIA to Tung Chung bus terminal, and continued on MTR (HK's Mass Transit Railway). We reached the hostel, checked in and had a good night sleep (I will write about the accommodation on a separate post).

April 1: Halal Dimsum, Afternoon Victoria Watertour Cruise and Sky100 Observation Deck

We bought Rekanan, HK's SIM cards, so that we could stay connected. We figured we'd need internet to check on maps, browse places of interest or translate into Cantonese. After getting the SIM card, I contacted EK, another university friend who was assigned in BNI Hong Kong. He said he would go to Masjid Ammar in Wan Chai area for Jumat prayer, and invited us for lunch at the mosque's cafeteria. "It's the most delicious dimsum I've ever tasted," he said. Okay.

I've met EK several times during Ramadhan breakfasting events in Jakarta after university graduation. But Aneen and EK had yet to meet since 2002. We updated each other on work, life, and well, for EK and Aneen, marriage.

In front of Masjid Ammar

Reunion in HK

After the lunch, we went to Pier 9. We were fully aware that we had yet to be familiar with HK's maps. Therefore, although the watertour was scheduled at 4 p.m., we made our way to the designated venue two hours ahead.

 HK's ferris wheel

 
 Against HK's waterfront cityscape.
Past meets present
The watertour would be great if the sky were clear. Unfortunately, during most of our tour, it was grey, foggy and a bit windy. There was audio explanation on the buildings we passed during the tour, all in all, it was not bad as we got to learn a part of history on what made Hong Kong.

We landed on Kowloon pier and went to Sky100, a 360-degree indoor observation deck on the 100th floor of the International Commerce Centre, in West Kowloon. It was designed by international architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox. 

I couldn't take a decent picture on HK's night view from Sky100. We simply enjoyed a drink and a few scones there and congratulated ourselves to achieve all goals for the day. Here are a few photos I took in the building.


 Augmented Reality photo on Sky100

 
 Pretending to be a part of the window dressing

April 2: Soho Gallery Walking Tour, Peak Tram, Madame Tussauds Museum, Peak Sky Terrace and Trick Eye Museum

I stumbled upon this link and booked a tour for two. Booking for the tour should be made a day before the D-day, and you can do it via email. On our second day in HK, we still struggled with the maps. However, despite the map-reading problem, we managed to reach the meeting point 15 minutes before the tour started *patting myself on the shoulder*.

I found this yarn bomb on the handrail during our way to the meeting point. Cute!

 Another one here.

I really like this Soho neighborhood. So artsy.

The walking tour visited several galleries in Soho. To be honest, I lost count on the third gallery. The tour gave insights on the arts in general, the Chinese art wave, the demand and supply and why some artworks have higher prices than the others. It was an interesting walking tour, because the explanation would change from time to time according to what is on display in the galleries we visit. However, all galleries we visited only display 2D artworks. I think it will be interesting to see 3D artworks or art installations.

Here are several photos (please don't ask the name of the artists, because I've completely forgotten):

 
 Oh wait, I remember this one is by Yayoi Kusama


 

 This is not an artwork. It is a view out of the window in one of the gallery we visited.

Our next destination is Statue Square to meet with the tour operator for the Peak Tram etc at 4 p.m. Since there was a three hour gap, we decided to try the Central-Mid-Level Escalator.

The Central–Mid-Levels escalator and walkway system in Hong Kong is the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world. Engineered by French company Constructions industrielles de la Méditerranée the entire system covers over 800 meters (2,600 ft) in distance and elevates over 135 meters (443 ft) from bottom to top. It was constructed in 1993 to provide a better commute by linking areas within the Central and Western District on Hong Kong Island.

We got on the escalator and our feet took a respite while our eyes enjoyed the view :). The escalator has a stop every several hundreds meters, so people can hop off and try restaurants that flank the walkway.

 

Oh, look a mosque.

 
Jamia Mosque, Hong Kong


From the top of the escalator, we took a small bus to get to the Central MTR and we made it on time for the tour. Since the tour operator had the skip line benefit, we did not have to queue for hours. The ride on Peak Tram is only around 15-20 minutes.

The Peak Tram is a funicular railway in Hong Kong, which carries both tourists and residents to the upper levels of Hong Kong Island. As you climb up to The Peak, you get the feeling the buildings outside are tilted, but it's just optical illusion.


While you're at The Peak, you can  visit Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, Sky Terrace and Trick Eye Museum. Madame Tussaud's and Sky Terrace are in the same building, so we explored those two first.

Madame Tussaud's

Condor Hero, I finally meet you! *channeling Bibi Lung vibe*

With the first president of Indonesia, Soekarno





Sky Terrace





 Hong Kong's night view from Sky Terrace

 Chilling at Sky Terrace

From Sky Terrace, we headed to the adjacent building that housed Trick Eye Museum. Here are the photos

I was Thumbellina

Or an angel


Or a ballerina, hahaha

April 3: Victoria Park, Ngong Ping 360 and Giant Buddha

Aneen and I met up with Mas Agung (Aneen's husband) and his friends, and they took us to Victoria Park. Every Sunday the Indonesian migrant workers gather there for a social meetup and trade Indonesian goods that cure their homesickness.

The great thing about going to Victoria Park is cheap and halal food! I shared a portion of nasi pecel with Aneen and had a cup of tea. Eating nasi pecel while you're 3,270 kilometers away from home felt so surreal.

From Victoria Park, we had a slow city tour with Mas Agung and friends. We rode ding-ding tram, took selfie at Times Square and did a little shopping at Muji Hong Kong.

On a ding-ding tram
 
At Times Square

Mas Agung and friends had to work in the afternoon. So we parted ways. We continued to Ngong Ping 360, a tourism project on Lantau Island in Hong Kong. The project was previously known as Tung Chung Cable Car Project before acquiring the Ngong Ping 360 brand in April 2005.






The ride gives you a majestic view of the islands that build Hong Kong. You get to see the paths, the streams and waterfall, the lush hills and the waterfront, and also the airport, because Tung Chung is the closest MTR station to HKIA.

After hopping off the cable car, we went to the Giant Buddha. The climb was tiring, but the view was great.
 



April 7: Last Day in HK (Flower Market and Ladies Market)

We went to Disneyland on April 4, and to Macau on April 5-6, those will be elaborated on the next posts. Mas Agung would depart to Indonesia tonight, so Aneen asked him if he'd like to accompany us before leaving to airport. He offered to take us to Flower Market because he wanted to do a little shopping there himself.


I heart these


Succulents

 
More succulents


A lovely cherry blossom that greeted us in a corner. It is also for sale!


Flower Market not only sells flowers, but also herbs

  It would be nice to receive a bouquet of flowers #code #wink #You KnowWhoYouAre

When we had our lunch (a bowl of soto at an Indonesian warung nearby the Flower Market), Mas Agung suddenly received a phonecall from the boarding house saying that he had to pack his bags now because there were people ready to check in. It seemed that there was a miscommunication on the check out time and the departure time (which was supposed to be 5 p.m.). So we rushed back to his boarding house, helped him pack and bid farewell as they went to the airport and left Aneen and I on our own again.
We deposited our bags at Mas Agung's place before we left for Macau. And now he left so suddenly, while we still had time before the night fell upon us. What to do? Where to go? I looked at my stuffs and said,"I think I need a new luggage." And off we went to Ladies Market.

It took us a few hours to finally locate the Ladies Market. And once you're there, you'd be busy to see the goods, haggle with the vendors and just enjoy the moment that you really forgot to take picture. Ouch! Sorry, I was too tired to pull out my camera during the shopping session, but bear in mind that Ladies Market is a must if you like the shopping activity.

Yeay, the post on Hong Kong is done. Let's move on to the next: Macau.

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