Thursday, February 12, 2009

HongKong: Day 1 (Feb. 5, 2009)

The day started really early, we woke up at 2:30am to get ready for our 5am transport to the Centennial Airport. D & I spent 2 nights at the condo. He had work while I had to help my sister pack the luggage of 5 people. Heavy 'wintry' clothing is really a hassle to pack thus foregoing the adage 'travel light'. Traffic was virtually non existent at that unholy hour so we were at the airport by 6:20 am.

Several PAL (Philippine Airlines) counters were already open and there was a considerable amount of people all checking in at the same time for various flights. After paying the terminal fee (P750/pax), you go through the immigration counters where stern immigration staff stamp your passport.

Then comes the 'fun' part - the x-ray security check. NOT! There is a separate line for men and women. You take a basket, put your personal belongings like hand bag, carry on luggage and your shoes (yes you need to take them off!) roll it through the conveyor belt while you pass through a machine where you are subjected to a hands on search on your person. Nothing to it, really. But over at the men's section there is quite a chaotic commotion going on as men have to take off their shoes, empty their pockets in the basket, pass through the x-ray machine, recover the contents of their pockets then hop around in their socks trying not to lose balance as they put their shoes back on. Quite a hassle especially for old(er) people who move at a slower pace.

Anyways with over an hour to go, you are left with nothing to do but sit at the assigned gate to wait for boarding time. I noticed there is an Internet terminal where you can log online,for free. (I resisted the urge!) A few snack bars for those wanting to have a caffeine fix. Plus a smoking area where my sister needed a few minutes to have her nicotine fix.

Boarding time (7:15am) came soon enough and I was pretty excited about the flight because it was D's first ever plane ride in his 44 yrs of existence. We were seated in row 69, windows seat section (I love window seats on a plane), I buckled his seat belt and waited for several minutes for the plane to take off. We held hands as the Boeing 747 lifted off the tarmac of the Centennial Airport for our almost 2 hour flight. They served warm breakfast on board.

Upon landing at the huge HongKong International Airport, we were met by the local handler (Win's travel) of the travel agency which booked our 4D/3N package. Then we were transported to our hotel, the Kimberly Hotel in the Tsim Sha Tsui area. A convenient location bustling with activities of numerous shops, inns, hotels and malls.

Kimberley Hotel

Carnarvon Road

It was only 11:30am so our rooms were not ready yet for occupancy. We were given a piece of paper and told to come back by 2pm. We decided to explore the surrounding area of our hotel as well as find somewhere to have lunch. The weather was pleasant. Sweater toting pleasant. A bit chilly given that we just came from a tropical country. But I simply soaked in the Hongkong vibe with its crowd, its clean surroundings, the different shops and the presence of clear pavements which made walking such a breeze.

Prat Avenue

We had our first taste of Chinese food at this restaurant. The staff could barely speak English so we ended up ordering too many dishes because we simply checked the dimsum items on their list. I couldn't be bothered to take pictures of the really tasty food, I was already famished.

Afterwards, we headed back to our hotel and finally had our rooms. D & I were booked in a twin sharing room (1804) while my parents and sister in a triple sharing room on the same floor (1801).

Room 1804, 18th floor

We rested for a few minutes before we headed out again to explore the sights and sounds of Hongkong. We walked and walked and walked all over Kowloon Island till we reached the ferry terminal. We took the Star Ferry to HongKong Island, alighted at the Wan Chai station.

Star Ferry

Here old buildings coexist with modern architecture. The old buildings remind us of this SAR's (Special Administration Region) colorful past while the modern architecture with its tall skyscrapers shows us Hong Kong's journey to the 21st Century. We kept walking and walked some more to the Causeway Bay area with its popular shopping malls (Times Square is the biggest emporium/mall in Causeway Bay) and the sea of humanity all enveloping us in its midst.

By now, it was already evening and we were beyond exhaustion, we had a quick dinner at Delifrance (of all places) since it was the nearest eatery we could walk to. After dinner, the nippy weather somehow gave us more energy to walk all the way to the nearest MTR station to head back to the Tsim Sha Tsui area. I like how the stations have clearly marked exits with all the roads listed so you won't get lost coming out of the train (MTR) stations.

We got back to our rooms by 11:30pm and had to sleep right away since Day 2's itinerary was bound to be a very hectic one. As you can see from the picture below, our beds were two single ones. D was lamenting that he was no longer used to sleeping on a single bed. We tried to connect them but there was this side table with a lot of wires making it impossible to move. Eventually we were simply too tired and fell asleep apart yet happy to be together on our first overseas trip as husband and wife. They say that you discover a different side of a person when you travel with them. Well I'm glad to say that my husband is still as organized and clutter free as usual. It also felt so nice to have someone carry my luggage for me for a change as well as explore/experience a new city and in the process build a ton of memories to cherish.

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