Friday, April 15, 2016

Other Things About Hong Kong And Macau

Octopus Card

I took the picture in a rush before we returned them at the airport

Once you land on Hong Kong soil, this is the one thing that you should acquire. Seriously. You can use this card for MTR, bus, and ding-ding tram. You can also use it to buy food, and other things where the merchants provide the Octopus reader machine.

In Tung Chung, the apartments are owned by MTR, and the residents' data are inserted in the Octopus Card. Using the Octopus card, the residents are entitled for a free shuttle bus ride to MTR Tung Chung every morning and evening.

A card is priced at 150 HKD, with 100 HKD for credit and 50 HKD for deposit. You can keep it as a memento, but if you return the card at the airport, you get the deposit back (minus a 10 HKD fee) and use the money to do last minute shopping at HKIA's duty free.

iVenture Card

Aneen found information about this card via this link. Then she persuaded me to buy the card. I was a bit hesitant to buy online, so I asked her if we could buy the card upon arrival. If you intend to see as much tourism attraction in HK and Macau, buying this card is a wise decision, because you can save money and time (the card offers 'skip line' benefit). The skip line thing was great, because the queue could take hours!

We used this card to do Victoria Harbour watertour (with complimentary drink), see HK from Sky100 (with complimentary drink and cookies), observe HK's art during Soho Gallery Walking Tour, take the roundtrip of Peak Tram, visit Madame Tussaud's and Trick Eye Museum, hang out at Sky Terrace, take the roundtrip of Ngong Ping 360, have fun at Disneyland HK, climb up Macau Tower and a free meal package at Broadway Galaxy Macau. All for the price of 1,149 HKD.

  •  HK
I love going around HK thanks to the easy transportation system.

  • Macau
While Macau has a more relaxed vibe (and I'm all for relaxation), transportation is one major factor that make me despises Macau. Here are why:
1. Macau has yet to have an urban railway network for commuters, so we rely mostly on buses (which probably come once every 30 minutes).
2. The buses go in circle, instead of going both ways

Let me take an example from the 18A bus route above: you're on Avenida D. Joao IV and want to go to Jardim M. Flora. You must go to Almeida Ribeiro-Ponte16, and then back to Perola Oriental Terminal, and then take another ride to Jardim M. Flora. It's wasting time, money and energy!

Another transportation option is the free shuttle buses that go from casinos to ferry terminal/airport. But the routes of such buses are not mapped out, so it would not be wise to use shuttle bus if you're in rush.
  • Ferry between HK and Macau
Aneen (again!) found information on Cotai  Water Jet's promotion via Facebook. By becoming a follower, you can apply for a discount on one ferry ride. You can check this link for more information. Be sure to check which ferry terminal you use for departure as HK and Macau has several ferry terminals.

Thank you Cotai Water Jet!

Photo at Tourism Sites
When you go to a tourism attraction and an officer offers to your picture with his DSLR camera, your first reaction must be: "Oh, but is it free?" The officer will smile and convince you that the photography service is free. The photographer will give you a coupon for the photo. But when you want to see the photo, the officer behind the printing machine will say that if you want to see it printed, you'll have to pay. And the pay is always more than 100 HKD.

We experienced this for the first time at Madame Tussaud's, where we were asked to pay 120 HKD per photo. We kindly declined and continued taking photos with our own camera. From then on, everytime an officer takes our photo, we just ignore him.

I can't give any recommendation on local food because I don't eat much in Hong Kong. I brought cereal drink, biscuits and instant noodles, which I ate for breakfast. I often skipped lunch and only had light snacks for dinner. I was afraid that the food was not halal, while halal food was more expensive. I only ate out a few times, with twice of them were because my friend who resides in HK took me there.

Halal dimsum at Masjid Ammar's cafeteria, EK treated us there.

EK treated us to a seafood restaurant, yummy

In the end, because I was hungry I tried KFC HK's Okonomiyaki Crispy Chicken + mushroom black pepper rice + egg tarts. You just have to try all variants of egg tarts while in HK.

However, no egg tart can beat Lord Stow's egg tart in Macau. Let's hope that it will open a branch here in Jakarta any time soon.

  • HK
On the first night, we stayed at Sydney Hostel, Chungking Mansion. We forgot to take pictures of the room, but there are many on the internet. If you're a first time backpacker, I would not recommend this place as it can be very intimidating. Upon approaching the building, many people tried to sell us things: room, food, tour packages. I kept my face straight and it kinda worked. But Aneen was bombarded with offers.

The next day, we stayed with Indonesian migrant workers. There are around 150,000 Indonesian migrant workers in Hong Kong. Most of them live with their employers, but some rent a place with other migrant workers. Some others rent a place to provide a haven for fellow migrant workers who experience either sudden terminated contact or cannot stand their employers and run away.

I'm not exactly sure which category our accommodation falls into, which is why I'd like to keep it under the radar. We only pay 50 HKD/night/person. If you'd like stay at their place, just shoot me the question and reason for staying via email (Read the About section to find my email). They only take women for their guests.

We stayed at EK's apartment when we're back from Macau. EK's apartment was near the airport and it took only 15 minutes from the apartment to the airport. Thank you for your hospitality, EK.
  • Macau
We didn't exactly plan to spend a night in Macau, but since we had difficulty on the first day, we thought we should at least try to conquer Macau the next day. We contacted our migrant worker friend in HK and asked if they had a friend in Macau who could take us in for just one night. Long story short, we stayed with them that night. But we were surprised to see so many migrant workers at the place. 

One of them told us that her contract in HK was ended and she didn't want to make her parents worry if she came home. So she went to Macau (for a visa run, I suppose) and waited for her next contract to complete. Everyone was tense and spoke in a hushed tone. They were kind and even offered us dinner, but it was a relieve to leave the next day.

Hmm, is that all? I guess so. Well, see you on the next posts, then.