Friday 19 March 2010

Hong Kong and Macau, March 2010

On the 19th March, 2010, 6 friends and myself headed off to Hong Kong to kick start the Japanese School Calender Spring Holidays. 

Flying Cathay Pacific, we headed off. Drinks were had, and motion sickness was avoided. 
On arriving at Hong Kong Airport, the weather was perfect; balmy, humid weather a very welcome break from the unrelenting Japanese winter. 

Following the instructions of our Hostel website, we jumped on the Air Bus, A11 to arrive at the City Garden Hotel stop. Although this took 10 minutes longer than the Airport express and MTR, the bus rate was 40HKD as apposed to 100HKD, and we all had seats the whole way. 

Finding the hostel, YES INN was relatively easy, thanks to maps and directions provided on their website.
With one couple in our group, we booked a double room and a 5 bed dorm room. The 5 bed dorm room was not available for use on the 1st night, so us singles jumped into a 8 bed mixed dorm for the 1st night, then moved over the next day. This 5 bed dorm actually had six beds, but was given to us to use privately.  The rooms (situated in a couple of separate building over the same block) were painted brightly and and were kept nice and clean.  I would definitely stay here again. 

After checking in, we went in search of food, and not knowing the area at this stage, decided to stay fairly local. We found a nice little cafeteria with plenty of locals around, and tucked into a cheap and tasty Hongkese meal. 

On day two, we set off in search of Yum Cha. Steamed buns, fried chicken feet and birds nest pudding were among the orders of the day. Some very tasty, others challenging. 

Next we consulted the tourist brochures and headed to Mong Kok, to check out Flower Market Road, Gold Fish Market, Yuen Po Street Bird Garden and of course to check out the market shopping.

For traveling around, the MTR is fantastic; transfers at minor stations are just accross the platform. So I recommend grabbing an Octopus Card from your first local station, it reduces fares and takes care of having to juggle change (always a bonus!). You can get your deposit back by returning octopus card to any station office once your done. 

After splitting ourselves into groups and shopping ourselves silly, we decided it was time for a night on the town and went Lan Kwai Fong, the nightlife district. First was dinner at a Hong Kong style family restaurant, some drinks from the local family mart, and up to Azure Club,  on the 29th Floor of Hotel LFK. Needless to say the views were stunning. The drinks, although considered pricey, were comparable to drinking out in Australia. The DJ kicked off his set around 10:30, and the dancing and debauchery began. 

Needless to stay, there was a rather slow start to day 3, after another tasty round of Yum Cha Breakfast, we headed on the MTR to Diamond Hill to check out the Nan Lian Gardens and the Chi Lin Nunnery. 

On our way we found a Mills & Spencer's and marveled at the bountiful western goods, and bought very large coffees from Starbucks.

The Gardens were beautiful. It was quite amazing to have such a serene garden inside the crazy metropolis of Hong Kong; so much so that we took our sweet time walking through the gardens, and missed out on the nunnery, as it closed at 4pm. 

Then we quickly jumped over to Wong Tai Sin Temple for a peek, before it closed at around 5pm. 

Headed into Tsim Sha Tsui for some Peking Duck Dinner, then Headed to the Avenue of Stars to watch the 'Symphony of Lights'. However unfortunately for us, this week Hong Kong was suffering from record breaking Smog (blamed on China of course) so the view was not fantastic. Then we headed to the night markets for some more shopping before trudging back to the hostel (one of our game friends picking up durian ice-cream along the way) to collapse, still slightly exhausted from the previous day. 

First up we traveled to Central Station and made out way over to the Bank of China to check out the free observation platform on the 43rd floor (all you have to do is bring your passport to register at the front desk to receive your pass). There is some pretty amazing architecture  in Hong Kong, and this platform has the perfect view to take it all in. 

Though we had all really wanted to go Victoria Peak, the smog obscured view from the Bank of China viewing platform changed our minds, so instead we headed to Ngong Ping to see the Giant Buddha and Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island. The weather was nice and clear out here, so we could enjoy our very long cable car ride, as well as the view. 

After heading down the mountain we head into the Outlet mall next to the MTR station, before heading to check out a rather notorious toilet themed restaurant we had found out about in the Yes Inn guestbook, near Times Square Station.

Modern Toilet Restaurant has many locations throughout Asia. Drinks come served in urinal shaped containers, while meals and desserts can come served in either a western style toilet, squatter style toilet or hand basin. Check out some of the tasty wares below!

This was the end of the Hong Kong leg of our trip. The next day we tidied up, checked out, grabbed a quick breakfast before heading over to Sheung Wan MTR to catch the Macau Ferry. The ferries leave every 15 minutes between 07:00 and 24:00 with additional ferries throughout the night. On arrival at the port we went through immigration before catching our complementary shuttle to the very lavish Venetian Macau. (Yes we decided to spoil ourselves this time)

We booked 2, 2 queen bed suites, and although it cost us around 9000yen a piece, it was well worth it. Everything you would want was within the resort complex (Including a fishy feet spa if you should so wish). 

After checking in we wondered out to the Portuguese centre in search of dinner.  We found an amazing little place, luckily someone was smart enough to take a photo of the menu so I can tell the name, O Porto Interior. We stuffed ourself silly with this amazing food. 

Rolling out of the restaurant we walked back to our towards the Casino Centre taking in the crazy casino night lights as we went. 

After heading back to our rooms for a quick pamper before a night of gambling, we took our recent cigar purchases to a lounge bar within the Venetian complex, where we were given no less than a small blow torch to light them.

The complex is designed to trick the undiscerning gambler into thinking that its daylight outside, but aren't all casinos? 

While the boys gambled away their hard earned cash, the ladies had some delish cocktails...

The nights gambling ended around 3am, after having to wake one of our less enthusiastic gambling friends from the pokey he had occupied the whole night. 

As we were due to head back to Japan that day, and I wanted to check out all the Venetian had to offer, I sneaked out of the room, leaving the others sleeping to check out all of the 5 pools. Of course, the only other people swimming at 9am were also Australians.

These pools also occasionally host events for Hed Kandi.
I would love to be at that pool party!

After checking out we head back to the port and jumped on the ferry bound straight for HK Airport. 

Be sure to leave plenty of time to check in for your Ferry as you have to check in your airport luggage/ go through immigration for your flight here in Macau. Also there is not much in the way of food at the port, so make sure you eat/grab something before heading there.

Thanks Hong Kong and Macau, we had a blast!

The Prices:
Return Flights with Cathay Pacific: 42,490 JPY
Yes Inn Hostel, Hong Kong; Double Room: 338HKD per night per room
Yes Inn Hostel, Hong Kong; 8 bed mixed dorm: 138HKD per night per bed
Yes Inn Hostel, Hong Kong; 5 Bed Room: 595HKD per night per room
The Venetian, Macau; 2 Bedroom suite: 2459HKD per night per room 
Ferry; Hong Kong to Macau: 124HKD per person
Ferry; Macau to Hong Kong Airport: a little bit more ;)

A special thanks for Imogen, Lauren, Paul, Clint, Brandon and Dooley for being such fun/crazy travel partners and also providing some of these great pics! xx