Sunday, December 30, 2007

hong kong december 2007 - post travel thoughts

itinerary planning
the excellent shopping and eating joints weren't possible without Hardwarezone Forum's thread on Hong Kong. Although there was a lot of work reading through 2500 postings, the end result is worth it. Doing homework is always a must for any free-and-easy travel, i feel. And be prepared to cock-ups, such as places/eateries that doesn't exist anymore. Or getting lost and confused along the way. Just so normal.

the HK leg of trip was planned since June, more or less finalized in October after CS3214's first system release =x Macau and Shenzhen were briefly read through just before i flew.

Hong Kong - more places were covered this time; such as New Territories' Sha Tin, Tai Po, Yuen Long. Enjoyed the quieter yet rural atmosphere in these towns. Of course, the places where tourists go to normally were covered - TST, YMT, Mongkok, Central, Wan Chai and CWB. A great emphasis was put on shopping!

Macau - it is my first time going to the former Portuguese colony, so there were minor confusions, especially in navigation. The map obtained at the ferry terminal helped a lot, do get a piece when you're there. Macau by-and-large pales in comparison to HK, but there are a handful of attractions that can be covered by foot or taxi in a day or two. For gamblers, however, a collection of big and small casinos await them.

Shenzhen - it was my mistake to leave the travel guide at hostel, so we walked without aim after crossing the border. It was also not tourist-friendly - no presence of street guides. My friends were not comfortable with proceeding further than 1km with the presence of touts (and people spitting and shouting all over), so we went back without doing anything, not even a meal (need Renminbi). I believe Shenzhen has much to offer, but some guts are required to ignore people approaching you. Shanghai had left me a better impression of China, unfortunately.

staying in hotels for whole of 10 days would be a killer, so i opted for hostel. Except staying in Sintra Hotel for 3 days in Macau, the rest were spent at Ah Shan Hostel.

hostels are extremely basic in terms of facilities and room service - expect less since the cost is also very low (HKD2730 for 7 nights, triple share = SGD26/night for a person). However, the location is excellent, because the hostel is just beside Ladies Street, Sportswear Street. Due to the winter season, you can even do away with the aircon.

i flew by SIA, because of the lowest airfare. The first disappointment is the failure of the KrisWorld inflight entertainment system on the flight to HK, causing a 30 minute delay. I thought KrisWorld should be better than Cathay's StudioCX, but it was only marginally better. Maybe i didn't fully explore the (laggy) menus.

the food menu is however better, especially the seafood meal. On the return flight, Häagen-Dazs® ice-cream was offered as a dessert.

personal feelings
i liked the weather at this point in time, no matter how many people would say about the dirty air, pollution, etc. It was very cooling and very comfortable to walk around to shop, eat and sightsee!

XH had a poor impression of people in HK. It could be due to the Cantonese dialect - words are spoken more quickly and with 'force', which can be misinterpreted. I have no problems with many of them, except for the immigration officers at the airport.

if you need a comment on the immigration officers, the one who processed my passport and scanned my luggage were downright rude in their body language. They didn't say anything, but their eyes and mannerisms didn't reflect well of themselves. I thought the people are more professional in their work? Oh well...

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