Friday, January 13, 2012

HK Day One (December 17, 2011)

The eve of our departure I was so tired I could barely sleep. Our flight was at 5:40 AM but if you live in this fair metropolis, you would know that you need to make sure you got ample time to make it to the airport. The airlines demand you be there 3 hours before your flight. So by 2:30 AM we were on our way to the airport. There was a slight drizzle when we got out of the condo and it became heavier as we approached the airport. There were long queues everywhere. At the entrance to the airport, at the X ray machines even the the check in counters. It seems everyone was leaving on that day for the holidays.

But eventually it was time to pass by the immigration counters. If you have ever gone through the customs/immigration counters at our local airports, you'd know it's best you have all the necessary papers/documents to be shown upon their request.I was well prepared. I had photocopies of my passport, our return e-ticket, my credit cards as well as my sister's HK identity card. The exchange was pleasant enough. It was like small talk, she asked where D worked, what I did for a living, asked us if we were going for vacation, how long would we be away etc. She stamps our passports and we were off to the security check counters when suddenly I heard someone say 'excuse me' twice.

I turn around and it was the immigration officer who wanted to clarify something with us. She was addressing D: "Excuse me po, di ba state U ang PUP?" We nod, yes. "Kung ganoon po eh dapat meron kayong travel authority kasi government employee po kayo." At this point, I must have turned pale as my heart sank. This is the first time (since we got married and we've traveled together) that we were asked to produce this document. D looks at me and shrugs. Since we didn't have this document, we were asked to seat down while she went to verify this requirement with her superiors.

At this point, D tells me if he is prevented from leaving that I should just go ahead and he would re-book and just travel the following week. I was livid, I told him I wasn't leaving without him. This was preposterous. Travel authorities are only required under martial law. D was trying his best to calm me down. To make the long story short, she comes back and tells us: "Sige po sa ngayon makakaalis kayo pero sa susunod po kailangan meron kayo travel authority kung may biyahe overseas." We turn around and almost ran off lest we were prevented from leaving. :D

D kept laughing during the flight as he recounted how I seemed like I was about to faint and/or cry when we were questioned. I admit I was aghast. Then I was angry. Then I simply chalked it up to some nuisance or 'aberya' that people in 'high' places do to harass people from leaving. Not fair at all but it happens!

Anyhoo! Onwards to our first day in Hong Kong. Here we are on the Airport Express. A super efficient train that transports you from the Hong Kong International Airport to the city in just 20 minutes. It was clean, it was fast, it was cheap and a very convenient way to get to the city. Fabulous, I'd tell you!

After we dropped off our luggage at my sister's flat, we were off to explore HK. After a quick lunch at the HK Convention Center, we took the star ferry to cross over to the Kowloon side. Our first stop (on foot, mind you!) was the 1881 Heritage.

This majestic mall is located on Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui. This area of 130,000 sq ft. features a shopping mall, a heritage hotel, and an exhibition hall.

The original site of 1881 Heritage was the headquarters of the Hong Kong Marine Police from the 1880s to 1996. The buildings' unique Victorian architecture epitomizes its rich colonial background.

It was a weekend so I believe most of HK was out shopping. Nathan Road was jam packed with people so we entered another mall to escape from the crowd.
K11 is a shopping mall with 6 floors and it is located beneath the Hyatt Regency Hong Kong in Tsim Sha Tsui.

It is described as the world's first art mall. There are artworks everywhere. The venue also plays hosts to several foreign film festivals. This Mona Lisa mural is made up entirely of loaves of bread.

Their Christmas decor was themed Renoir Christmas Dance which featured the setting of the masterpiece "Le Bal au Moulin de la Galette" by the leading French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

Then we walked all the way from Tsim Sha Tsui to the Avenue of the Stars. This waterfront promenade offers a fantastic view of the skyscrapers at the Hong Kong island side. This also features the hand prints of famous Chinese stars like Jet Li, Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan to name a few.

It was late in the evening and temperatures were starting to drop. So it was time to put on my woollen blazer and my hoodie to protect me from the strong winds. It was chilly but I loved it.

The view across was fantastic especially when darkness set upon us and the building were all lighted up for the Yuletide season.


kayni said...

i hate it when airport officials do whatever they can to irritate or "show who's in-charge." i was wondering why D needs an approval since he isn't traveling on official business. i'm confused. i'd be angry too like you.

anyway, i'm glad you guys made it to HK. the photos are amazing.

Photo Cache said...

i haven't heard of that "rule" about gov't employees. but nice to know that all's well that ends well so to speak. but what a way to shake your composure, eh?

hope the new year is treating you fabulously so far.

Daphn3 LaurA said...

@Kayni. I was not aware of this requirement. I'm not even sure it is really needed or perhaps it is just a means to harass people. Who knows?

Daphn3 LaurA said...

@Photo Cache It surely rattled me to say the least. But I didn't want to argue with the IO because I might just antagonize her 'authority'.

Fortunately it is all a distant memory now and I was able to enjoy our vacation. :D

Heart of Rachel said...

I'm not familiar with that policy either. I'm just glad that you were able to push through with your travel plans after that slight inconvenience.

Lovely photos! That Mona Lisa mural made of bread is truly amazing!

Daphn3 LaurA said...

@Rach I guess next time we travel I would have to inquire about this document to avoid any delays.

Yes that mural certainly caught my eye. Very creative concept. :)