April 2, 2008

Hong Kong/Macau Holy Week Trip

March 19, 2008 (Wednesday)
We flew to Hong Kong and arrived sometime during 8-9pm. We went to Immigration, got our bags and went to see my dad's older brother and his wife. Well, the agenda for coming here in the first place is actually for my cousin's brother's wedding, but hey, it was still gonna be held on Sunday, so why not have a fun time first?

Anyway, we arrived at the Harbor Plaza hotel, which was literally near the ferry port, and checked in for what was like an hour because of negotiations (we needed an extra bed to reduce paying the cost of 2 rooms) and, after arriving to our rooms, watched TV (Bionic Woman, Seinfeld and American Idol was on in Star World) and eventually slept.

But in between the trip from the airport to the hotel, I have to note, we just stared at the Hong Kong skyline, which never ceases to amaze me for some reason. (It was kinda hard to take a picture though, with the bus moving and everything.)

March 20, 2008 (Thursday)
This was the day we went to Macau via the ferry. But we didn't ride the ferry port near the hotel though, because the boat we had to ride for Macau was elsewhere. We also ate breakfast there which was full of delicious noodles, and went to our boat. Arriving after 43 minutes, we went to immigration. And boy was there a LOT of people in immigration. Heck, it's arguably longer than the line in the HK airport! But anyway, my ah-pe (father's brother) hired this tour guide for us and we took this trip all around the small nation of Macau which was basically made up of casinos.

But there are two sections of Macau, actually. The old and the new. Of course, old Macau was crappier, but its trademark landmark, the uhh..., I don't know what it's called, but it's supposed to be some kind of a religious Portuguese (Macau's colonizers) wall. It looks like a former church door, but I didn't listen to the Mandarin speaking, saliva spewing tour guide, so I basically don't know anything about it.

This block of Macau, I should also note, is full of OFWs. There's even a branch of Ang Dating Daan (was that right?)!

Later on, we would go inside a few food stalls near the landmark. We ate curried fishballs on a stick, and we bought some delicious egg rolls and egg tarts from the bakery.

Next stop in Old Macau, was a temple established by Fukienese monks. We didn't go inside though.
After that, we left for New Macau, which was a lot better and prettier. I mean, the bridge connecting both sections is pretty grand.
And even though this is the "New Macau", the Portuguese architecture and influence still doesn't wane one bit, but I digress.

We first went to The Venetian hotel to eat and shop.
We had a buffet lunch at "Bambu" which was delicious, then we went up to the mall. There's a lot of Filipinos here as well, and they're either walking on stilts or conversing with fellow Filipinos in the bathroom while cleaning it.Speaking of the mall, it was a wonderful little pseudo-neighborhood that also had fake clouds!We obviously ran out of breath because of this wonderful sight, which, the tour guide noted, cost 200 million US dollars! It was really huge as well, and was riddled with malls and performers. As well as a long river with gondolas and singing gondola... rowers.
We went window-shopping, and walked our huge lunch off.

Afterwards, we drove to the last destination of the day's trip- the Fisherman's wharf. There was basically more walking and sightseeing and picture-taking. But the others just rested on the bench.
By this time, my grandmother was already tired of walking, therefore she stayed in the bus with my ah-pe and ah-so.

The place was also full of Portuguese architecture and even has a replica of the renowned Rome Coliseum.

And this ended the Macau trip. We went back to the ferry port, and sailed 43 minutes back to Kowloon and ate a light dinner (because we were still full from lunch... and it was already 6 by then!) in the same restaurant we ate the last time we went to Hong Kong.

Me and my cousin went back to the hotel via the bus while the other members of the family went back there via taxi. Of course, the bus was cheaper, especially with the Octopus card, but that's not really important, huh?

When we got back to the hotel, it was later than 8 and we missed that telecast of American Idol. So we watched the eliminations after Seinfeld in Star World. Amanda Overmeyer was the one who got the boot then and we wanted Kristy Lee Cook to go instead, therefore we were disappointed and shocked. But after that, we slept.

March 21, 2008 (Friday)
We were all excited to go the Disneyland because it was our very first time to experience what the famous theme park has to offer. But it was after we ate breakfast and took the MTR (basically the counterpart to the our own LRT system, only underground) to Disneyland.
The MTR of Disneyland is a pretty different one from the others, though, because it was practically a separate train (we went down a station with a so-called "Exchange route" or something) and waited for it to climb up the mountain to Lantau island, and eventually, the Disneyland station.

We finally got to the gate and saw "the happiest place on Earth" to quote Walt Disney himself. Of course, this was small compared to the other Disneyland resorts, but it was fine for all of us.

We had to wait for 10am because it was the opening time, but during this time, we bought the tickets, which were (un)shockingly expensive because it was "Peak hours" and we lined up when they told us to.This is basically the entrance when you actually get in the gate.
While this is the trademark Sleeping Beauty castle in the Disney Pictures title cards.

The first section was Main Street which had a lot of characters posing for different patrons. But we didn't get a snap with them yet, because the first section we actually took a lot of time in was Tomorrowland. My cousin and I went inside the mildly nauseating, but not-so-scary Space Mountain ride, while my siblings and parents rode the rotating space uhhh..., jets. After that, we met up near the Stitch theater, but we were told that it wasn't open yet, so we went to Buzz Lightyear's gun-shooting adventure of sorts and then Honda's Autopia where we waited a LOOOOONG time to ride a few automobiles.In Honda's Autopia, me and my brother rode a yellow car and it was pretty bumpy because he'd turn whenever we already crossed the curve. But moving on...

Before we went to lunch though, we posed with a Disney character- Stitch. It was also getting pretty hot though.
So we ate some more instant fastfood Chinese cuisine in an ironic Medieval stall.And while we were eating, the High School Musical float, which was very much avidly advertised in our local papers and Disney channel commercials, were singing Bop To The Top... And it was agonizing not only because many, many people were still drawn to the thing and shouting, but because it was really, really repetitive. Initially, I thought that the dancers were lip-synching, then themselves saying "Wildcats, let's go!" and shit like that, but they were really singing the song live in both English and Cantonese versions. But it was surprising to hear that the English was also very clearly sung, so we saw the float and it was also full of Filipinos.

After eating, we went to the adjacent theater that presented the live musical called "The Golden Mickeys" which is Disneyland's interpretation of the Oscars, only cheesier.And though the show proper was really entertaining, and the production value very high, the most entertaining part of the show, in my opinion, was the part when we heard all the Disney characters speak in Cantonese. Not that we're a discriminating bunch of people, but it just took us in surprise. I mean, Mickey Mouse first chuckled with his signature chuckle and suddenly, in his native American voice, suddenly spoke Cantonese! If you watch it yourself, you'll probably be able to relate with me. Still, there were English subtitles on the right side (there was a LED display) and the songs weren't butchered at least.

Next we went to see yet another show and it was the Philharmagic- a 3D show that has Donald Duck being beat up by the living instruments and chasing after the magic hat the Mickey wore in Fantasia. It was infinitely more entertaining than the Golden Mickeys and I suggest you see it because it's practically a wonderful, fun time in there. And the end? It was so funny!
Afterwards, we went to Adventureland to ride the Jungle Boat ride. There were 3 lines, namely English, Cantonese and Mandarin. This was not a division of race, rather, it was more of a selection of language preference.

Anyway, when we finally got to ride the canoe, we went around the lagoon and saw different kinds of stuff. And trust me, when they say "you may get wet", get a raincoat ready. We practically took a damn shower!
This is Tarzan's treehouse.There were elephant's galore!
This picture makes me wonder what the "Pirates of the Carribean" ride is like.
This was the part where we got really wet. There was fire everywhere and suddenly, the big mouth of doom sprayed fog and water all over us. Damn it.
After that escapade, we went back to Main Street and waited for the parade to start. It took hella long, actually, but it eventually started.An Israeli family rode in this red jeep to start the proceedings. And in between the proceedings, my dad ordered this 3D crystal thingy with their (dad and mom) faces engraved in it. But the showpiece inside it- the Sleeping Beauty castle- was also pretty enchanting, but guess how much it costs.
In between our time inside the store, nothing was happening. But after 15 long minutes, the parade resumed. Well, at least we thought it resumed, because it was merely full of vendors.
After 15 more minutes, the parade finally really resumed.It had the average theme park parade music on, and it changed whenever a character besides Mickey Mouse and his gang went on.
The marching band that accompanied the inflated Mickey Mouse were obviously Filipino, like many of the other performers present. And if you want a closer look...See?
This woman from the Toy Story float was probably the only one who interacted with the crowd.Finally, the last float.But the huge crowd followed.

We pretty much waited a hella long time for the crystal engravings of my dad and mom to finish because the computer broke down. But after that, we finally went to take a picture with the Disney characters.

We never got to take a picture with Goofy and Pluto, though they looked like fun. But I think I lost the Chip and Dale picture. After that, we left for Kowloon- completely happy and satisfied.

March 22, 2008 (Saturday)
This day was alloted for shopping. But first, we had brunch in Maxim's Chinese Restaurant with my ah-ma's friend. And because it was brunch, (we started 10am) we only had the afternoon left. We first rode the boat in the port near our hotel though, then we rode a tram going near the Sogo mall. Then it rained. DAMN! (But at least it didn't rain in Disneyland...) The rain hampered much of our shopping since the stalls we went to were outside instead of inside a mall. We went to a bookstore and bought a few notebooks and pens, we went to HMV which is the counterpart of Astrovision in Hong Kong, only a whole lot bigger and updated and cheaper! I mean, there was already La Vie En Rose, No Country For Old Men, the whole enchilada! It was basically movie and TV series heaven. However, we didn't actually buy much. We browsed and my father bought some old mystery series called Murder, She Wrote which we are surprisingly hooked with now.

After that, the rain got worse, so we went to the supermarket (called Well come) and bought some blueberries and umbrellas.

We then went to a tech store called Broadway and bought a Sony Cybershot T300 (kinda like Nuevo's camera, only with 10 megapixels) for my uncle (of course, he was to pay for it when we went back). While my parents were making the purchase, though, we were watching some sample videos in the Blu-ray display. After that, we went to McDonald's to eat merienda and we went home via the double-decker bus.

When we got back to the hotel, my brothers wanted to not leave the hotel anymore because their feet were hurting. So we were left to go out and buy more stuff near the hotel and eat in Cafe de Corale. The dishes were pretty big and we took out some food for my little brothers.

When I went to the hotel with my cousin to give the food to them, I volunteered to stay and serve their food and play Uno cards with them.

They got back and we slept.

March 23, 2008 (Sunday)
My sister had to get back that day because she had assignments and classes the next day. And we went to my ah-pe's house to eat congee with bicho-bicho.

We had to wait for 10:00 to strike (and that was two whole hours) so we watched Animal Planet's Animal Diaries documentary-series. But when the couple (my cousin's brother and his girlfriend obviously) came, the traditional tea-sipping began and we were to wait for them to finish. But there were a lot of photographers there, so it was a bit distracting.
After that, we rode a hired bus with the couple's friends and classmates to go to the Hong Kong Cultural Center, where the restaurant where we would be eating prior to the wedding was located.
And though it was in a different name, it was essentially just a Maxim's restaurant. But it was delicious anyway, and it's always a big delight to eat Cantonese food, which in my opinion, is one of the best cuisine in the world. (And though we have a lot of it here, it's still the best when you eat it in its native country.)

When we got done eating, we went down to the Marriage Office to watch them register their marriage certificate.And when we went inside this little office, an effeminate man, who was probably the assistant of the actual lawyer, presided over the preliminary ceremony.
A woman, who was the marrying lawyer, went in to finalize the marriage. The couple said their vows, they exchanged rings and the photo shoot began. So basically, that's all there is to it with civil weddings here.

We went back to the hotel to rest and went back to the 8 o' clock reception. I didn't bring my camera there, but all I can say that it was very classy with bubbles, fog and water. And the bride? She had to change five times! There was a hilarious time when my cousin's brother, the newly wed groom, began singing. And it appears that our family is clearly not the best singers in the world. But we ate some delicious food, and we went home by near 11.

I wasn't all that tired so I watched a bit of the news, then the BBC sitcom Extras and eventually slept at 1.

March 24, 2008 (Monday)
This is the time when we went home. We got to the airport, checked in our luggage, and waited... and waited and waited and waited and waited until, ding-ding-ding-ding! "Flight PR 301 has been delayed. Please wait at Gate 18 instead of Gate 15. You will be given HK$40 vouchers for your lunch. Please get them at the Gate 15 counter. Thank you."

I was like "Shit!" and we waited again. When my dad and my cousin got back from the counter, the supposed HK$40 voucher became a HK$75 voucher! And for good reason. Most of the food upstairs aren't really cheap, you know? But anyway, we went to our respective food stalls and maximized the voucher and ate a lot of food. After that, we waited, and waited, and waited and waited again. Obviously, we all became bored and the DS we had eventually ran out of juice. I went to the electronics store and surfed the net and checked my mail with an iPod touch in display and typed with a PSP on display on my Chatterbox.

After that, I went back to the gate and waited with my family again. And when 3 struck, the boarding call finally started. After 15 more minutes because we were the last group of seats to be boarded, we lined up and showed our passes. Finally, we got to the plane and reached home.

The line back home was even longer than the line in Macau and we passed through Customs and finally went home! YAY! I burned the DVDs 2 days later.

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