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Travelogue: Macau and Hong Kong (3-7 November 2012)

Tiger Airways flight on 3 November morning to Macau

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A holiday which was initially planned for mother and I was extended to the entire family. For Goh and the boys, objective of visit was to explore more business opportunity. On a shoestring budget, we travelled budget airline  (Tiger Airways SIN Macau, HKG SIN) and had the experience staying at budget accommodation in Hong Kong. It was different perspective of travelling experience because I had never interested in shopping and eating in Macau and Hong Kong. Bringing Mother to a place whereby she understands what goes on around her, can communicate in a dialect (Cantonese) she can speak and the culture similarity were the main reasons why I chose Macau and Hong Kong.

 

MACAU

Indeed, many visits at one place can take away the charm of the city. Fortunately, it was the first time for everyone except Goh and I. We visited in Macau 18 years ago, January 1993 on a one-day tour booked from travel agency at Shun Tak Centre in Hong Kong.  Travelling on a guided tour group and on free-and-easy was entirely different feeling. Except for the Ruins of St Paul’s, I did not have any memory about Macau (that’s why I never like to travel on guided tour). Probably we go through the process of finding places, we remember things we put in effort.

To make the trip more exciting, we added public bus in our itinerary as the main mode of transport. Bus fare was generally cheap, charge by where one boards the bus regardless of distance. Fare between MOP2.40 and MOP6.40. It is easier job for the driver. The locals there used a card similar to Ezlink card. When passenger taps the card at the scanner, bus fare is shown on the screen. The words were so big that I could see from the bus stop. Senior citizen’s fare MOP0.30, i.e. less than 5 cents Singapore Dollars. So cheap!

Like any new experience, there’s a feeling of euphoria when we first arrived. We were in awe of the differences we experienced. Other than the excitement of getting from one place to another taking public transport, my impression of Macau is that it is dependent on tourism as their main source of income. Egg tarts, the pork bun are the famous local snacks. Ruins at St Paul’s was worth visiting. The casino hotels were a letdown, like a replicate of Las Vegas minus the glamour and class.

Fu Hua Guang Dong Hotel was one of the cheapest hotel I could find. Despite the effort, the price was nt cheap, room rate MOP1300 or HKD1300 whichever traveler wants to pay. I feel cheated by the free wifi promise, it was not working throughout our stay. Anyway it was ok. We stayed there just for one night. The plus point about this hotel is that it is very conveniently located with many buses to different parts of Macau, many eating places and shops and only 15 minutes walk to Ruins of St Paul’s.

One night stay at Macau was sufficient for non-gamblers like us.

HONG KONG

Influx of tourists from Mainland China is changing the face of Hong Kong. Seven years ago when we came here, few people could speak a smattering of Mandarin with a strong Cantonese accent. Now, everyone speaks China-accented Mandarin.

Travelling in Hong Kong is expensive. To me, shopping experience in Hong Kong was the same as in Singapore. The night market is still nice but the products the vendors are selling are not unique. We can easily get them in Singapore because the goods come from the same source: China.

On Tuesday, 6 November, we had lunch at Yau Ma Tei which was famous for claypot rice and seafood. Our table was outside a night club. The place was a bit dodgy and seedy, looked like a red light district. Near our table was one which was occupied by the women worked at their night club. A man was arguing with another man. If situation got worsened, the people could flip the table and fight. We said when that happened, we would run, then our dinner would be free. Just kidding! The fight did not happen but I could tell that gang fights are not uncommon at that district.

Rising cost of living, soaring hotel prices are making Hong Kong a lousy choice of travel destination. The once attractive and peaceful Lantau Island Big Buddha is now becoming so commercialized with the addition of Ngong Ping Village. It should have started in 2008, according to a poster on the cable car station. The cable-car experience was the only positive change. Compared to the 1 hour bus ride per way we had seven years ago, the experience was a lot more pleasant. However, the way the staff manage the queue was quite bad. Queue was very long and no one managed it.

Throughout the visit, Mother was quite happy to go to the places. Her leg pain was giving her problem when she climbed the stairs at the MTR station. There are many exits at each station but no lift or escalator. Transport network is fantastic, but the lack of elderly-friendly facility in the stations were making travelling very difficult for disabled and elderly passengers. No wonder we did not see wheel-chair bound people around the city. It must terribly inconvenient for the disabled.

I am grateful that Snoopy’s World is still around. This was our second visit. We were here in 2005 – little Robin and Dominique enjoyed very much during their visit, so this time I brought them back again and also specially for Clement. This was the only best place I visit in Hong Kong because it’s nice and admission free.

The accommodation was an interesting experience. I booked Cosmic Guest House in the website hostelword.com. Fooled by the picture in the website and attracted by the good price (SGD25 per bed and low booking fee USD2), I confirmed the booking before finding out from tripadvisor the negative comments of this place. But after getting use to it, I started to appreciate this place. Hong Kong hotel price is so expensive. It is hard to find affordable rooms and very difficult to get 3-bedded room. Cosmic Guest House offers another alternative.

It was located at 12th Floor of an old mansion. At first I could not accept that we were going to stay here. When the lift door opened at 10th floor, I saw cables dangling, corridor and the residential units shabby. Lift was old and slow. The gloomy corridor looked like the scene of a Hong Kong horror movie. I had the feeling of living in the typical Hong Kong government flats. The size of my room was like 150cm x 500cm (I used my arm as a “measuring device”), with bathroom and 3 beds. Amazing at the way the owner manage the space. It’s like a matchbox. Fortunately there was window overlooking Holiday Inn across the narrow street! I told my kids we had a good view looking at nicer looking hotel rooms, whereas the guests at Holiday Inn had a crappy view of budget accommodation like ours.

The different reviews from 2 travel websites could be due to the type of travellers. Hostelworld is for budget travellers who do not mind backpacker lodge or B&B, whereas tripadvisor have all kinds of travellers. Expectation varies. A lot of negative reviews about this place, but I think people are expecting too much. Space is at a premium in Hong Kong and a twin-bedded hotel room would cost 2.5 times more than at hotel opposite right on Nathan Road at Tsim Sha Tsui district. Location here is excellent, Tsim Sha Tsui MTR is just next to the building. Staff are friendly. Wifi is good and free. The place was cheap and comfortable with aircon in working condition. I understand one thing: you get what you pay.

TIGER AIRWAYS HKG TO SINGAPORE

It was a long journey to airport. We arrived more than 2 hours prior to departure. Despite our effort, we discovered to our horror that the flight will be delayed due to a lose screw at the left door. Tiger Airways was asking 17 people to volunteer to take the next flight at 6:40pm, due to safety regulation. These people that volunteered would be compensated by SGD200 Tiger Airways vouchers and HKD50 meal voucher. After bumping off 17 people, we got to go home.

In a nutshell,

CHALLENGES

Issues What we have How we overcome in the planning stage
Limited resources – time 1 night in Macau, 3 nights in Hong Kong Visit 2 areas only: Ruins of St Paul’s, Senado Square, The Venetician to see the casino hotels
Limited resources – money
  • Shoe-string budget because this is the 3rd holiday this year. Reserves budget for India trip in December.
  • 6 people travelling
  • Plan where to go and how to go – give sufficient time for travelling
  • Eat at small coffee shops
Accommodation Difficult to find 3-bedded rooms in Macau and Hong Kong at reasonable price. Average price of 3 star hotels HKD1300 in Macau (weekend), HKD1000 in Hong Kong
  • Widen scope of search
  • Manage expectation of the quality of accommodation
Transport Getting 2 taxis at the same time was very difficult except at airport Take public bus in Macau, MTR in Hong Kong
Walk Mother’s leg, lack of energy Walk slowly with her, reduce unnecessary trips for mother. Check with her the places she wanted to go.
富華粵海酒店 Fu Hua Guang Dong HotelRua Francisco Xavier Pereora 98-102 Macau City俾利喇街98-102 澳門市
Cosmic Guest House12/F Block A1, A2, F1, F4, Mirador Mansion 54-64 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
DAY 1 saturday, 3/11/12 SINGAPORE – MACAU
06:10 – 09:45PM Flight Departure TR2902
12:00 PM Lunch Near hotel
1:30PM Sleep
4:00PM Walk from Hotel to Ruins of St Paul’s
6:00 PM Senado Square
7:00PM Dinner
8:00PM Bus from Ruins of St Paul’s to Venetician Macao Bus Service 26A
Venetian Macao
9:00PM Bus from Venetian to Hotel Bus Service 25 (bus fare: MOP6.40 per person)
DAY 2: Sunday, 4/11/12 MACAU and HONG KONG
9:00am Walk and Breakfast Market place
11:30am – 12:30pm Turbojet Macau Ferry Terminal
MTR From Sheung Wan Station to Central Station to Tsim Sha Tsui Station
Check in and late lunch Tsim Sha Tsui
Goh, Robin, Dominique Visit Toy Shop
Evening Dinner, Shopping Ladies Market, Mongkok
DAY 3 monday, 5/11/12 hong kong
8:30am – 12:30pm Goh, Robin, Dominique 2 business meetings
Pam, Mother, Clement BNP Paribas Hong Kong – met Rita, Anissa, Renee, Doris, Yan Song, Martin Lin, Stephane
Gathered at Tsim Sha Tsui Station. Go for lunch Macau Restaurant near Hai Phong Road
After lunch Rest at Cosmic Guest House
Goh, Robin, Dominique Visit Toy Shop
Pam, Mother, Clement iSquare, opposite Mirador Mansion, Sit and wait at Kowloon Park entrance
Evening Dinner Macau Restaurant near Hai Phong Road
DAY 4 6/11/12  Hong Kong
morning Goh, Robin, Dominique 1 business meeting
12:15PM MTR To Tung Chung Station (2 groups) MTR From Tsuen Wan West to Nam Cheong StationMTR from East Tsim Sha Tsui to Nam Cheong StationGather  at Nam Cheong to travel to Tung Chung Station
Lantau Island Buddha
Lunch at 1:30PM Poh Lam Temple
MTR to Sha Tin Station Tung Chung to Nam Cheong change train to Hung Hom to Sha Tin
6:30PM – 7:15PM Snoopy’s World New Town Plaza
MTR to Yau Ma Tei Sha Tin to Kowloon Tung to Yau Ma Tei
Dinner At roadside stall seafood dinner Heng Kee
MTR to Tsim Sha Tsui Station Yau Ma Tei to Tsim Sha Tsui
Walk Walk of Fame at East Tsim Sha Tsui 10 minutes walk from guest house
 DAY 5 7/11/12  Hong Kong – Singapore
7:00AM MTR to Airport Express Station Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station to Hong Kong Station
8:00AM Arrive at Hong Kong Airport
12:00PM Flight delay departure (late by 1h15m) TR2963
4:00PM Flight arrives Singapore TR2963
Cost in SGD for 6 peopleExchange Rate: HKD10 = SGD1.5763 / Exchange Rate: MOP10 = SGD1.54
Airticket (paid) 1900.03
Accommodation |Macau (night of Saturday/Agoda) SGD182.33 after less reward points (paid) 3-bedded room 182.33
Accommodation | Macau (night of Saturday/Hotel) HKD1300 (paid at hotel) 3-bedded room 204.92
Transport Cost |Ferry ticket from Macau to Hong Kong Island | MOP891 137.21
Accommodation | Hotel in Hong Kong (nights of Sunday, Monday, Tuesday = total 3 nights) HKD2666.70 + USD2.00 430.00
Transport Cost | Taxi in Macau from airport to hotel 2 cars MOP160 24.64
Transport Cost | Taxi in Hong Kong 0.00
Transport Cost | NP 360 (HKD170x5 + HKD110 = HKD960) 151.00
Transport Cost | Airport Express – from Hong Kong to Airport HKD250+HKD160 = HKD410 64.63
Transport Cost | MTR in Hong Kong 1053.13
Eating (average meal HKD50 per pax)
Shopping/Travel Insurance
Total 4,147.89
Estimated Average spending per person = SGD691.31(Spent below budget SGD777.80)Changed HKD19,000 = SGD2995.04 and  Changed SGD300 to MOP / Changed MOP to HKD + credit card expenses SGD2082.36 = SGD5,377.40Remainder Cash= HKD7800 = SGD1,229.51
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About Pamela's Online Journal

Working mother of 3 boys, loves travelling & writing.

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