September 11, 2013

Crash Course Mong Kok

For the first time since we started travelling together, MJ did not have a printed excel file of our itinerary, because… well, we do not have one.  What she had for this trip though was a little notebook that contained her “outfit changes”, a list of what to eat and addresses of H&M branches throughout Hong Kong.  As for the sight-seeing part, we kinda relied on the tourist map we got from the airport, crossing out Disneyland of course (as you know by now, we’re not that kind of tourists - no offense to those who are).

Our 1st day was spent pretty much in Mong Kok and despite being the busiest district in the world (noisiest too if you ask me); we loved it there.  The blinding neon signs, the cramped-up alleys, traffic noise, the crowded streets and the stench of boiling pig innards, what’s not to love?  Oh did I mention that there’s an abundance of shopping and lots of places to eat?

In Mong Kok you’ll find anything and everything for all ages and genders; clothes, shoes, cosmetics, jewelry, traditional Chinese medicine, bags, electronics, roast duck, dimsum, traditional Chinese street-side food, milk tea and burgers and fries.

There are also quite a number of hotels and hostels in the area, some money changers and 24-hour 711’s that sell tiger balm for a cheap. 

Getting to Mong Kok is easy as it is quite a popular place; just get on a train and get off at Mong Kok Station.  If you are looking for a particular shop, best to do a little research and bring a map, asking locals for direction in a place like Mong Kok can be challenging as everyone seems to be moving in a very fast phase. -KIM

May 20, 2013

Sleeping in Hong Kong

After a really short direct flight from Cebu, we have arrived in Hong Kong in the middle of the night. It’s funny how the HK locals on the plane were outfitted with shorts, tank tops and flip-flops while I was bundled up in denim, chambray, jacket and - boots! The boots is a dream come true by the way, ha ha!

Amazing how the Philippines in March is at the peak of summer, while we arrived to an 11 degrees in Hong Kong just less than 3 hours away. 11 degrees might not be cold for you, but add to that the gustiness and the fact that this girl from the islands has lived her whole life in the tropics, I felt like I was freezing my a** off! Even after filling my suitcase to the brim, I felt that the clothes that I packed were inadequate. Good thing this destination is also famous for shopping. Wink!

The Chek Lap Kok Airport (IATA Code: HKG) is the main airport in Hong Kong and is well served by public bus routes that transport was no problem even past midnight. From HKG, we took the N21 bus to Kowloon for HKD23 or roughly about Php138 per person. Travel time was about 30 minutes. The prefix N in the bus number means it is an overnight bus service.

We’ve set up residence for 5 nights at Ah Shan Hostel and this was the directions lifted from their website: “Get off at Mong Kok MTR Station - the 6th bus stop, before Argyle Street; 688 Nathan Road outside Argyle Centre; You will see the Bank " Shanghai Commercial Bank. " This is the Cross of Nathan Road and Argyle St. Turn "Left " to Argyle Street. Then go straight cross 2 pedestrian traffic lights. You can see the "CRC Care" Shop and Mong Kok MTR Station "D" Exit. This is the first Trafflight . After the first traffic light you can see Hui Lau Shan (許留山) on your left.

The building in front of you is the Sincere House (先施大厦), directly opposite Baleno.”

Don’t get overwhelmed by the directions, follow this step by step and you’ll find Sincere House with As Shan Hostel’s reception at the 14th floor of Sincere House.

Now let’s orient you with Sincere House. I believe it is like most buildings in Hong Kong - a little rundown that hosts a number of cheap accommodations along with several apartment tenants. There’s always a queue present in the tiny lift (but surprisingly can squeeze in an impressive number of people all at one time) during daylight and believe me when I tell you that it is very busy. We were initially shocked to be greeted by hanging intimate laundries at the hallway but the novelty soon wore off and we got used to it. The rooms, especially the restrooms are cramped. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s discuss the merits of why we still chose to stay here. And for 5 nights at that!

This building is located right across the Ladies Night Market and Langham Place (read: H&M). Major factor. There’s a 711 in the corner, few money changers, an abundance of camera shops, lots of international fast food joints, local eateries with some that are open 24 hours, and the yummiest duck roasts! Those duck roasts still haunt me to this day! There’s also a bus stop, a taxi stand and the MTR station.

The very strategic location makes it a good base for us while the white sheets and the clean room saved us from being miserable and took some of the sting of our being too cheap to pay for a decent hotel.

I swear, when I become a certified Senior Citizen, no more of these hostels, I will put the GRAND in grandmother, with 25 percent discount, guaranteed! - MJ

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