Friday, October 9, 2009

Hong Kong - Day 5 (Macau)

We kind of regretted this short trip to Macau as it was too short and Macau is huge but nevertheless, there's still something to write about :)

We woke up later than scheduled and went for the porridge at the nearby market again. We just could not resist and had to return and have it. Also tried the cheong fun (char siew and shrimp) this time, not that bad just that the flour was a bit thick. There is something special about the soy sauce in Hong Kong... not too salty and had this fragrant slightly sweet taste :)

After breakfast, we took MTR to Tsim Sha Tsui and had a short walk to the China Ferry Terminal located behind the Marco Polo/Marco Polo Prince Hotel/The Gateway/Harbour City stretch. There was also an Esprit Factory Outlet nearby :)
This building is kind of confusing at first, the ticketing counters and departure was located on the 2nd floor. Upon reaching level 2, there were a lot of ferry's going to Macau and a lot of other places in China! We looked for First Ferry Macau counter and bought a return ticket. The ferry ride was pretty long... around 1 hour 15 mins including waiting time... We would like to recommend that you bring along some motion sickness pill in case of sea sickness :)
Upon reaching, you will be able to see a very impressive museum and Sands Macau:

Now... word of advice: Macau is not that tourist friendly as compared to Hong Kong... the place is huge and people there sort of gives you the feeling that you are some kind of "water-fish"... i.e. tourist = $$$... not meant as an insult to anyone, just personal experience with cabs especially...
After arriving at the Macau Ferry Terminal, there was tourist center on the right as you walk towards the exit/entrance of the building. You can grab some maps, though they are not that useful, at least there is something to refer to :)
Getting to Senado Square was not pleasant. There is a bus/taxi stand just outside the Ferry Terminal. The more economical way to travel without being conned is by bus, but remember to bring lots of small change, else you will end up like us taking a very expensive taxi ride to Senado Square...
It was China National... what you can see is only people... people and more people...

OK, I am going to quit complaining for the time being and start to enjoy the trip... Macau's building architectures are very unique, being here is like being in a more modern Malacca :)

We had our first prok chop bun from an unknown shop... when we say pork chop bun we really mean it. It's just a piece of fried pork chop in between bread which tasted a bit like French loaf... be careful of the bones when you feast :)

I don't know why but I have problems reading the maps... they are inaccurate and the scales are pretty off... Anyway, it took us quite some time find out where the Ruins of St Paul were, but we made it... along the way to the ruins, there are a lot of shops selling local Macau delicacies like almond cookies, dried BBQ meat, candies, etc. Now, the Ruins:

We took quite a lot of photos here :)
After all the walking and hot sun... felt kinda dizzy... maybe a little sun burnt too... we saw this crowd of people queuing up for some Taiwanese ice dessert, it was really hot so some ice was irresistible :)

The outlook was appealing just that it was not as tasty as we expected... we ordered the Mango flavoured one, it tasted like... iced Mango syrup... oh well... at least it cold :)

We headed back to the main road and wanted to go to Coloane Island to look for lunch. There was this famous Portuguese Restaurant called Fernando's featured in almost all the Macau tour books and a lot of websites. We even over heard some of the foreigners asking for directions to this island when we arrived at the Ferry Terminal earlier :)
According to Google map, Praia de Hac Sa (aka Black sand beach) was not that far:

We decided to wait for a bus heading towards that direction... after half and hour... still no buses... hungry and slightly frustrated due to the hot weather, we took a cab instead... We passed by the Macau tower while going across the bridge... seems like we were on the right direction:

The taxi ride was was like... man! almost 40 mins! Plus it costs us slightly more than MOP100! We will get to the part on why the price and the duration later...
Now, the restaurant seems pretty normal at first glance, but inside is like... wow... another place with difference ambiance and feeling:

The patrons consist mostly of foreigners... The menu is just Portuguese and Chinese... from my research... the place should be famous for grilled food so we ordered a grilled quarter chicken and a grilled fish. Each customer is given a big bun with butter, it tasted like French loaf (I personally like French Loaf) but the skin was a bit hard:

Frankly, we think that the food was not that great... maybe we did not order correctly because the grilled chicken was like... Nando's without the Peri Peri sauce... the fish was just grilled with salt... not to say the food tasted bad but it was... normal... maybe we set our expectations too high after reading all those reviews on the net :)
Nevertheless, the environment was great, quiet with some soft music, you can feel some cooling sea breeze, it would be a good place for a gathering with some friends, some wine would go great! :)
My wife finished earlier and took some photos of the place :)

The place is really huge as you can see that there are a lot of different settings for different occasions, we reckon that this would be a really happening place at night :)

The meal costs us slightly less than MOP200 as we shared a Coke. We planned to take a bus back to town and since its not here yet, we took a quick stroll to the famous Hac Sa Beach :)

And yeah... the sand is sort of black :)

As promised earlier on the reason for the expensive and long taxi ride... we took a bus back (23A if we remembered correctly) and realized that the taxi actually took us for almost a round (maybe half) island trip! The bus took a shorter route back, passing by Coloane town where the famous Lord Stow's Portuguese Egg Tart Bakery is located.

We have no idea where the place is exactly even with the help of Google Map... we coincidentally saw the shop when the bus passed by a roundabout. We actually overshot and had to walk back. To the left of the shop is (i think...) Coloane Village, unfortunately we did not have the time to venture further...
We forgot to take a photo of the egg tart as we were rushing to get another bus... the pastry is crispy and the filling is smooth unlike those that we had back in Malaysia... it's a little bit on the sweet side (even for a sweet tooth like myself), but overall it's better than the one we had in Senado's Square :)

We initially planned to go to the famous Venetian Hotel, we did not have time and also wanted to find the famous Ruo Do Cunha street for dinner... we seriously walked a lot and the maps... crap... the scale is something they should improve on... totally different from the maps we had in Hong Kong... anyway, here are some photos to took on the way back... very nice architecture :)
Macau is filled with Hotels and Casinos, nothing else...

Above is the Venetian... side view i think

We took another bus back to the Ferry Terminal. It was getting dark and along the way, some of the hotel lights were on, it was a beautiful sight :)  Unfortunately the bus was pretty packed and we had no chance to bring out our camera to snap photos :(
It was a tiring and hot day so we took the earlier ferry back to Hong Kong. We spent some time at the Esprit Outlet just next to the Ferry Terminal. We think that the selection here is a lot newer compared to those in Tung Chung :)

We had dinner in one of the shops in Tsim Sha Tsui, quality was acceptable. We shared  seafood hor fun and a bowl of wan ton:

The seafood hor fun only had salt taste... it did not have that wok taste we expected... yup, acceptable :)
The wan ton was quite fresh but we preferred the one we had in the morning, it had more prawns :)

After dinner we strolled around Tsim She Tsui, enjoying the night life and view. Initially we hesitated going to Arena of Stars as we were really drained... but, it's our last night in Hong Kong, so... what the heck, we decided to go ahead and man, we didn't regret that decision :)
Too bad we were not good in night photography... even with a tripod, most of the photos are blurred due to the strong wind...

The Peninsular Hotel, very grand :)

Well, thanks for viewing, it has been a long day, back to our hotel to rest... it's not pleasant having the thought that we will be leaving the next day though...

Hong Kong - Day 4 (Lantau/Tung Chung)

Bright as sunny day! We thought that we should have chosen today to go to Disneyland instead of yesterday... but came to think of it... its Hong Kong/China National Day today... most probably the park will be flooded by tourist... so today is a good day to stay away from the city, Lantau (Tai yu san) here we come :)

Recalled my dad saying that there were a lot of food shops in Tsim Sha Tsui so we headed there for breakfast. We were there around 10:00am... seems pretty quite and nit many shops were opened yet... we wondered around behind the Giordano Concept store and found shop selling Roast Pork (char siew). We forgot to take a photo of the shop but it has a light greenish signboard :)
We ordered Roast pork and dumpling noodles (char siew wanton mein) and a roast pork rice (char siew fan). The portion was pretty big but we somehow managed to finish all up... maybe we walked a lot...
OK... the noodles came first, the wanton was filled with fresh juicy prawns, the noodles we springy and crunchy. The char siew had this mild pork taste... maybe its immersed into the soup therefore diluted the sauce covering the char siew, overall, good dish :)

Then came the char siew rice... seriously a lot of rice but there was also a handsome amount of char siew to go with. This dish tasted a lot better. The char siew's sauce and oil blends nicely with the rice, the meat was lean and surprisingly juicy! We finished the rice :)

You will need to head back the same route as per Disneyland but instead of interchanging at Sunny Bay, you go all the way to the last MTR station at Tung Chung. There are actually 2 ways to get to the Giant Buddha and the Po Lin Monastry. One is by bus, another is via the new Ngong Ping 360 cable car. Upon reaching Tung Chung, we proceeded towards the bus terminal looking for bus 23. You will notice a lot of bus services along the way, some requires you to buy ticket, etc... we did not bother as the people seemed like touts... we walked all the way to the end of the terminal where bus 23 is located. Since it was a public holiday, the fare was HKD27.50 instead of the normal HKD17, we used our Airport express passes. The bus route is a series of winding roads, similar to that of Cameron Highlands. The ride will take slightly more than 30 mins. Along the way, we got a glimpse of the cable car route, most probably the ride will be exciting as the cables are hung from hill to hill, very high up indeed :)
Down the hill, there's a new tourist village called Ngong Ping village. At the other end of the village should be the cable car terminal coming from Tung Chung.

Looking up the hill, sitting there was the Giant Buddha... Magnificent :)

On the right will be a short climb to the Giant Buddha, on the left is the Po Lin Monastry. Before going up the steps, there will be counters selling coupons for HKD60 whereby you get to visit a small museum underneath the Buddha plus a vegetarian meal at the monastry.

Of course we walked all the way up, great view of the monastry from the top :)

There were some souvenier stalls underneath the Buddha. We bought some stuff for our family members. It was very sunny that day and most of my photos are overexposed...

It was very hot so we did not spent much time there. On the way back to the bus terminal, my wife saw some shops selling toufu fah, so we gave it a try. It was not as smooth as the one we had in Mongkok, maybe because its processed via the traditional method using a stone grinder as we saw one there. Its pretty similar to the ones we have back home. You can take the same bus back, same price, same duration or via cable car. We slept all the way back to Tung Chung :)

Now... for some shopping! Tung Chung Citygate Outlet is the largest consolidated factory outlet/warehouse in Hong Kong. It holds brands from Joy and Peace, Nike, Adidas/Reebok, A/X, Timberland, Esprit and luxury brands like Burberry, Polo Ralph Lauren, Coach, Bally on the upper levels. The designs and fashions are a bit off season, some are from previous years. But if you don't mind the fashion, most probably you'll be spending quite a lot (of time and $$$) here :)
Can you imagine an original Polo T for only HKD420?!

We had a quick lunch at McDs, it was a public holiday so, every shop has a long queue... We shared a Shogun burger, interestingly the burger came with pork patty and an egg, similar to Chicken McMuffin with egg :)

We did not buy anything there as there were too many people... the fitting rooms was seriously packed! Some designs was kind of old... I am sort of a Timberland guy, the plain coloured long sleeve shirts are a bargain... unfortunately my wive bought me almost every colour available back home, so we skipped that... Another surprising thing is that we saw was Timberland actually sells women apparel! And Joy and Peace sells men leather shoes :)

We headed back to Mongkok for dinner since today is the only day we actually had a bit of spare time to roam around the vicinity of our hotel. This is also the first day where I did not carry anything, that includes my camera... dang! Why? Because we had waxed meat claypot rice (lap mei pou chai fan) for dinner. I should have taken photos of this meal as it was really delicious! I didn't expect to be able to eat this dish as its usually served during winter period! The rice was cooked in a claypot with Chinese sausages (lap cheong and yun cheong) and some duck meat if not mistaken. We were given this say sauce to pour into the claypot, you can hear the rice sizzling with the sauce creating a mouth-watering aroma! I don't quite fancy yun cheong but this one was great :)
It was a bit oily but we washed it down with a glass of iced lemon tea (dong ling cha)

Since it was early, we went back to the hotel's shopping mall. My wife got a pair of very nice high heels from Joy and Peace with a National day discount of 15% which came out to be around HKD700, and I got a Nike back pack, with 10% discount as well, around HKD450 :)

Well... another day gone... 2 more days to go... how time flies :(

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hong Kong - Day 3 (Disneyland)

We woke up at 6:30am just to take peek through the hotel window and found this... After 2 days of continuous rain, finally we can see blue skies and the SUN!

The day started with a bowl of hot smooth porridge at Mui Kee Congee located in the Fa Yuen St market building near our hotel. I got to know about this place from this blog. Excellent porridge! Do notice the misleading floor number... its stated 3 but in Chinese, it is level 4...

We ordered a Fish Belly porridge (Wan yu lam chuk, I have no idea what type of fish wan yu is though...) and a bowl of fish skin. The fish skin is a cold dish, its eaten with some ginger, spring onions and some soy sauce.

The porridge is really smooth and sweet! The porridge based tasted as if it was cooked with charcoal (my mum used to bowl soup with charcoal, food cooked with charcoal has this special unforgettable fragrant taste). The fish was very fresh and it came with a handsome amount too.

There was a dimsum stall at the back, so we went to try out as well. The lotus leaf rice (hor yip fan) was nice, the siew mai was a bit salty.

We went around the market and had a few snapshots here and there :)

The market was quite clean and didn't smell that bad unlike the market we have back home. The fruits, vegetables and meat as fresh, especially the saefood, most of it are still alive and swimming!

After the hearty breakfast, we were on our way to Disneyland :)
At the Sunny Bay interchange, Disney has their own train with Mickey windows :)

There was still a long walk before reaching the ticketing counter. We passed by a maze on our left, fountain ahead, turn right and we were at the ticketing counter. It was Halloween so there were additional decos and figures.

There are basically 3 lands - Tomorrowland, Adventureland and Fantasyland. Since it was Halloween, there were haunted houses in all the 3 parks :)


It was really scary because the figures in the haunted houses were actually Disney staffs in costumes! Space Mountain in Tomorrowland is a fun indoor roller-coaster ride :)
The people there were really helpful, if you go as a couple, they offered to take your photos using your camera free of charge :)
We also went for the Lion King show, also indoor. It was really hot outside... we needed to cool down with some aircond :)

Fortunately we were able to catch the Disney on Parade at 4:00pm because it started raining again after 5:00pm... we missed the Live Highschool Musical show and the Halloween Parade... what a waste :(

We spent quite a lot of time in the shops looking for souveniers as it was raining heavily outside...
There were quite a variety of food there. Averagely priced at HKD50... at that price, we opted for Western. Portion was fairly big, quality not that bad considering that its still a food court :)
Grilled chicken and Fish and Chips:

The rain stopped just on time for the 8:00pm closing fireworks... spectacular!

We actually missed quite a number of events due to the rain and very fortunate that we did not get sick :)
We had some curry fishballs on the way back to our hotel, its between HKD6-8 depending on the shop. They are pretty elastic, not too bad :)