Hubs and I never went on our honeymoon when we got married 22 years ago. Why didn't we? Honestly I cannot remember. Maybe it was a lack of money, hub's resistance to apply for leave or the idea of travelling. Anyway, we never went and since then we only travelled twice, once to Genting Highlands and then later on to South Korea. Both times we went with the kids when they were little so that was super stressful.
Last year after I had my gallbladder removed, my health became a lot better and I started to believe I was capable of travelling. I thought it would be a good idea to go in March as March was the month we got married. Hubs applied for leave and the only period up for grabs was last week. So we couldn't bring our kids along. My son was on school vacation but my girl had school. Yup, you heard it right. We left our kids in Singapore to fend for themselves for 4 days. Don't worry, my son's just one year away from voting age and my girl is capable of waking up by herself. And before we left, hubs boiled a lot of water and bought 2 huge bottles of water for them so we knew at least they would not be dehydrated. And I gave them lots of money.
I decided we should go Hong Kong because I wanted it to be a short trip. I mean it's the first time me and hubs were travelling together and you never know. We could quarrel every day. We could even break up. So I thought going to Hong Kong which is very similar to Singapore culturally would be safe. Plus Singapore has always been compared to Hong Kong and I really wanted to see for myself. You could say Hong Kong was on my bucket list.
We booked our flight and hotel via expedia. The rates were pretty good. I wasn't really that particular about the quality of our hotel. So we got an average hotel - Silka Seaview Hotel. But when it comes to flying, I wanted to fly via Singapore Airlines because it's got good track records. I think my life is worth that extra bits of money!
I have problems with altitude and before the trip, I went to the pharmacist and she recommended that I take Novomin ($7.05). It takes just over 3 hours to reach Hong Kong so I only needed one tablet. You know what? Novomin is the best. I did not get sick at all. Not on the plane. Not off the plane. I felt fantastic. In the past, I would get bad headaches and vomit my head off on the first day of any trips. When I went to Genting Highlands, I spent the entire time in my hotel room because I could not move my head at all.
We booked the trip on February 18 so that gave us 2 weeks to research on what to do in Hong Kong. It also gave me 2 weeks to worry my head off about all the things that could go wrong. As is typical of me, I got myself very sick 4 days before we left. I had a major pain in the head and pain medication didn't work. So I did something which may seem crazy to you but it's something we do. I applied tiger balm ointment all over the base of my head and near the ears because those areas hurt the most. The heat that was produced from the balm offered me some relief and I was able to sleep. In the middle of the night I woke up still in pain and applied another round of tiger balm. The following day, the headache was slightly better but I had a new problem. The areas where I had applied tiger balm were hurting and slightly itchy. It felt like a skin reaction to the tiger balm. I quickly washed off the tiger balm but the damage was done. By Friday night, I had developed hives all over the back of my neck and around the ears. I had also applied a tiny bit of tiger balm on my forehead but the damage there was much less. On Saturday morning I asked my daughter to take a photo of my hives and they looked really bad. I thought I had to cancel my trip which was on Monday.
The flight to Hong Kong
chee cheong fun! It's a common breakfast in Singapore. This version was delicious. I really enjoy eating on the plane. I think it's the best part of flying.
Our flight was pretty smooth. Midway, there was just a tiny bit of rocking and then it was over. Our landing was really nice too.
Airport Express Train
|Airport Express train with wifi and luggage storage space|
When we reached Hong Kong airport, we took the Airport Express train to Kowloon. We had purchased a round trip Airport Express train ticket online because we didn't know how much of a hassle it was to buy over there. Plus it was discounted. We didn't know that tickets weren't required to board the train and we would redeem our tickets when we reached Kowloon. So that took us on a merry go round for a while. Then we made the mistake of boarding a train that was about to leave. I went in first but hubs got his arm caught in the door! Yikes. Luckily he managed to pry the doors open and he was able to enter the train. Nope, he didn't lose his arm. Thank goodness or it would have been a very sad trip for us. Went with two arms, returned with one. And did you know train doors do not spring open when they hit any obstacles?
At Kowloon station we received our Airport express train ticket for the return trip. We tried to buy a tourist day pass to take the MTR but somehow we weren't allowed to buy it because it had to be bought together with the Airport express train ticket. So we ended up buying an Octopus card which is a stored value card and it can be used for transport and payment for some purchases. Later on we discovered that we could buy a tourist day pass at the MTR stations but by then we already had the Octopus card so... Anyway, I made a calculation and in the end we didn't spend that much money riding the MTR so the all-day tourist pass would have cost more. All's well that ends well.
In Singapore, our train (subway) system is called MRT and many people have often said Hong Kong MTR is way better. So in Hong Kong, I got a bit obsessed with the MTR and I really enjoyed looking at the differences. Hong Kong MTR is a lot more complex. I'll be honest. I relied on hubs a lot to figure out the routes. When we were there, the trains ran smoothly and there was only one time at night when our train slowed down but only for a tiny bit. It could have been traffic congestion. I thought the MTR could have been improved with better signage. For first timers, it took a while for us to find our way around especially at the interchange.
From Kowloon MTR, we took a taxi to our hotel - Silka Seaview Hotel. Nope, there isn't really a sea view. The taxi ride only cost HK$38. The taxi smelled of cigarette smoke. I was amazed the driver knew where to take us because he didn't speak English.
|first day in the hotel - my first thought: so tiny|
|me on the last day after sleeping till 11am|
The hotel provided a handphone which had internet service. We could do google map and it was a life saver because hubs' phone crazily had no service in Hong Kong. My phone did not have roaming but at least I had service. I received a sms giving me the option to activate roaming and we tried to do it but that didn't work either. So this was the second bad thing that happened to us. And I was really dreading the third. I think if we didn't have the hotel handphone, our vacation would have been ruined. Although wifi is available here and there, it's not enough.
Yau Ma Tei
To be honest, we weren't so keen on going to the usual tourist places. I definitely didn't want to go to the zoo, aquarium or museums. My idea of travelling is to eat the food and experience the same space as Hongkongers. Does that sound funny? But we did go to a few recommended street markets, just to see and we went to Disneyland because why miss it right? And we did do a very touristy thing - take a cruise to experience the Symphony of Lights. We also did a walking tour on Hong Kong island with a local guide.
Most guides recommend the street markets in Hong Kong. Maybe it's because we also have such markets in Singapore, I found the street markets uninteresting. I was hoping to find unique stuff. Ha ha ha.
After a while we gave up with the street markets.
Symphony of Lights
Named the 'World's Largest Permanent Light and Sound Show' by Guinness World Records, coloured lights, laser beams and searchlights perform in an unforgettable all-round spectacle synchronised to music and narration that celebrates the energy, spirit and diversity of Hong Kong. (discoverHongKong.com)
We sort of made this trip into a bit of a food tour. Based on recommendations, we came up with a shortlist of eating places to go to. I will write another blog post on the food so look out for it. One thing I have to say about our eating experience is this: in Hong Kong eateries, the space is extremely cramped. You have to share table with strangers and you can't hang around when you're done.
In Singapore it's not uncommon to hear stories of how service crew are verbally abused by customers. In Hong Kong, it's the opposite. Before we went, we had read and heard stories of how Hongkongers don't exactly have the best attitude in service. So we went fully prepared to be abused. To be fair, we were treated reasonably well at most places. I think we only had one bad experience and it was mostly due to a breakdown in communication. What I do notice is service crew don't smile at you. They also don't have friendly greetings. It's always rush-rush and I have say it's the same on the streets. Because there are so many people everywhere, we are constantly pushed along. The first 2 days we found ourselves walking very fast and we had to constantly remind ourselves to slow down.
|me at Cityplaza eating an orange - gotta get your vit C|
|despite the exterior, the inside of SOGO is very nice and modern|
Early luggage check in
If you have purchased a Airport Express train ticket, you get the privilege of checking in your luggage early. Of course it also depends if the airline you fly with provides the service. Singapore Airlines accepts early check-in for same day flight. So we checked in our luggage at Kowloon station and spent the rest of the day roaming Causeway Bay. I think this is such a great convenience. One big question we have about early luggage check in was should we enter using our Airport Express pass or our Octopus card. The staff told us to use the Airport Express pass but we were still uncertain. We had watched a youtube video and the vlogger had warned we should NOT use the Airport Express pass. Finally I read the information on a signboard and it was very clear. Yes, use the bloody Airport Express pass. The fare will be deducted immediately but we will still be able to use it again later to go to the airport. I've come to realise you simply can't trust vloggers or food bloggers as we discovered.
The flight back to Singapore
After 4 days, we were exhausted from all the walking and were really happy to go back to Singapore.
We quickly lodged a Lost report with the airlines and Hong Kong airport. By some miracle, the next day, hubs received confirmation his wallet was found at Hong Kong airport. Thank you so much whoever found and turned in hubs' wallet! All's well that ends well, I guess.
Oh, I forgot to mention. We didn't quarrel at all. Not even once.
Read my Hongkong food posts here:
Australia Dairy Co
Breakfast at Capital Cafe
I heart Dimdimsum