Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hong Kong

Day 1: 22nd January 2011

My flight via Malaysia Airlines from KL is at 9:30am. Touch down around 12:40 pm. The journey only took 3hrs 20 mins. First impression its cold here 11 celcius. The good part is that the bus is providing a free wifi. Can't wait to explore Hong Kong.

I am taking the Airport bus A21 to my hotel at Tsim Sha Tsui, just to get the sample of Hong Kong. Though a bit slow compared to the MTR but nice and scenic view. Journey is about 45 minutes and it is only HKD33, 1/3 of the MTR rate.

Arrived at the hotel in Nathan Road around 2:30pm. Check-in and after put all my luggage in the room straight away I took the MTR to Central for a trip to Victoria Peak. I opted for the tram ride although you can get to the peak through a bus ride. The choice is yours, climbing to the peak via a tram is a bit expensive however it give a breathtaking view of Hong Kong along the ride. The queue is quit long with a lot of tourist. Luckily the wait is only 20 minutes as the frequency between the tram is about 10 minutes intervals. I took an effort to walk from Central to the tram station at Garden Road, passing through some of Hong Kong prominent landmarks i.e. Bank of China, Standard Chartered, HSBC etc. Well the ride is very smooth and once reached the peak I can see a nice view of Hong Kong.


Its colder at the Peak that forced me to wear my fleece jacket. Nothing much to do except shopping and visit the Madame Tussaud. The best part is there is a Rock Shop at the Peak Galleria. And as usual buy the shot glass and some t-shirt. Take some break at the Peak McD eating the fries and drink the hot chocolate.

After about 2hrs at the Peak, I take the tram down and ride the 15C bus to Central Pier to experience the famous Star Ferry ride. A traditional boat connecting Hong Kong island with the Mainland. I opted for the journey from Pier 7 to Tsim Sha Tsui, as they said the view was nice especially looking at the island and Kowloon.

Arrived Tsim Sha Tsui, take some walk to the Avenue of Star for the famous Symphony of Lights Show. The show is conducted every night at 8pm that run for 15 minutes. Basically its about formation of light from building in the island, that was synchronised to a tune of music. Very impressive and interesting show. But the place was too crowded.



Well after the show its time for dinner and I am taking the Arabic dish at Ziafat, Nathan Road. The food is not that nice, however due to empty stomach I manage to finish all of it.

After dinner, quarter to 10pm I decided to call it a day and get ready for my Macau excursion tomorrow.

Day 2: 23 January 2011

My second day started with a day trip to Macau. Detail of the trip please refer to my Macau article.

After the Macau trip, I arrived Hong Kong quarter to five. After the immigration clearance, I decided to take a tram for a different angle of experience. The tram located opposite the Western Market which is inter-connected with the Shun Tak Centre via a pedestrian bridge. In Hong Kong most of the building and landmarks are inter-connected with a pedestrian bridge or underpass. I believe this is a standard infrastructure that should be made available to a city in order to encourage people to walk and utilised the public transport. The scenario is also the same with other big cities like Tokyo, Singapore and Bangkok. However KL is still lack of those facilities. Anyway we are catch-up as more and more such facilities is being planned to be constructed in the city center.

Anyway my tram ride started from the Western Market to Causeway Bay where I am taking the eastbound route. Basically one of a traveler blogger had suggested the route as it is the best way to sample Hong Kong as I pass almost all of Hong Kong prominent landmarks. And the best part is the price is very cheap only cost you HK$2 for any of the route from start towards the end. But sometimes the tram ride can be very crowded especially at the hour that I am taking. Anyway its very smooth and enjoyable. Arrived Causeway Bay after about 40 minutes ride. At Causeway Bay just doing some window shopping to various malls around i.e. Sogo, Times Square etc. All malls are crowded and the shopping was fabulous with a lot of new year sales.

After exploring various malls I make a move to Masjid Ammar and Osman Ramju Sadick Islamic Center for my dinner. This place is famous with its halal Cantonese food which you must try especially you are in a Chinese country. I found the food is tasty however the environment is quite typical of a Chinese restaurant. The center is located at 40, Oi Kwan Road, Wan Chai district. Apart from a walk, you can reach the center by taking a tram and make a stop at station 47E for eastbound route or 52W for westbound route (Henessey Road). Then make a short walk to Wan Chai Road via a walkway between the W Square and the basketball court. Cross the Wan Chai Road to Tan Yan Street and at the end of the road turn left to Oi Kwan Road and the Masjid is located after a couple of blocks from the junction on your left.

After the nice dinner, I take a tram back to Central and board the MTR to Mongkok for Ladies Market. Located in the heart of Mongkok District, the section of Tung Choi Street between Argyle Street and Dundas Street is known by the locals as "Ladies Market" or "Women's Street". It is mainly "soft" goods that you would find there - clothing, clothing, and clothing. Well, there are also dolls, small rugs, towels, popouri, etc.; items that most men don't write home about. (But then, there're some watches and stuff.) Well its a typical night market that we have in any of the South East Asia cities. Near the Ladies Market, there are also Mongkok Computer Shopping Center is just around the corner, and one street over is Sai Yeung Choi Street South with many stores selling consumer electronics. After buying some souvenirs, I decided to end the day.

Day 3: 24 January 2011

Wake-up a bit late as I do not have any specific program for the day. After freshen-up and take some light snacks I decided to go to Stanley Market. Located quite far from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong City. The journey via the bus is very breathtaking with a view of the Southern part of Hong Kong. The journey from Central took me around one hour passing by the Ocean Park, Repulse Bay and various other beaches in Hong Kong. The sea fronting area seems to be occupied with various luxury villas, bungalows and condominiums. Actually nothing much to do in Stanley, the market is very small and a bit pricey. And then down the road is a small shopping center plus a historical building that was moved there stone by stone. The rustic building, Murray House, is now home to a few fine restaurants. Not far from the building there is the Blake Pier. Both historical sites are a restored monument that was previously located in the Hong Kong City. Normally the place will be crowded during the Dragon Boat Festival in June.

After about an hour there, I decided to go back to Hong Kong take my lunch at the Islamic Center for a halal dim sum. A very nice lunch for me. Then I decided to take the MTR to CityGate Factory outlet. To the outlet just take the MTR to Tung Chung Station and take exit C. The outlet is home to more than 80 international brand like AIX, CK, Levi's, Nautica, Ralph Lauren etc. After arriving, of course do some shopping. Spend about three hours there and after that went straight to hotel for a rest. At the same time preparing for the conference next day.

Day 4: 25 January 2011

It's my conference day. Well forgot to mentioned, the reason why I am here is not totally for vacation, but more for a SCADA Asia Conference. I am presenting a paper entitled "Enhancing SCADA Connectivity and Communication. This is my first presentation outside of the country. The presentation went well and I received a positive response from the audience. On side of the conference various meetings and discussions were held with some of the delegates.

After the conference, I just spend sometime to visit the Temple Street night market also known as Men's Street to look for final souvenirs. Again another typical night market. Smaller than Ladies Market, however with more items on sale. There are more than a hundred stalls with colourful lights in the market. There are carts bulging with goods from clothing to mobile phones and watches. Stalls have items mainly for men, jeans, t-shirts, pants, lighters, shoes, condoms and men's accessories. Cheap second hand goods such as cassettes, video tapes, magazines, antiques are also sold here. Like in other night markets in South East Asia, prices can always be negotiated by bargaining.

Then after the market shopping, I decided to just buy a kebab for my dinner.

Day 5: 26 January 2011


First part of the day until morning tea, I joined the conference. At about 11 am I check-out from hotel and take the bus to Kowloon Station for a city check-in. My flight via Cathay Pacific is at 3:30pm. So still have some time, I decided to finish the day with some final visit in Hong Kong. Take the Star Ferry ride to Wan Chai and visit the Golden Bauhinia monument before taking some dim sum at the Islamic Center. Then take the airport express went straight to the airport from Hong Kong Station. A very smooth journey of about 24 minutes only. At the airport managed to do some final shopping at the Disney Merchandise Store and then straight to the waiting lounge. At 3:15 board the airplane and arrived KL around 7:00pm.

With the arrival, officially that's the end of my Hong Kong trip. A fully paid trip that really satisfy me. My journey to Hong Kong is full with excitement.

Location:Nathan Rd,,Hong Kong

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Macau

Make a short day trip to Macau. Since it is only nearby and no visa required. Compare to Shenzen or Ghuangzhou you need a visa to visit as it is considered as China. However not for Hong Kong and Macau. Both are China but with special authority or known as Special Administrative Region (SAR). This is due to both area were previously colonised by British and Portugal. Only in 1997 Hong Kong was returned while Macau in 1999. Very interesting and unique administration concept. Well that's a brief of history.

I am more interested to focus on my journey to Macau. It started early in the morning an MTR ride to Sheung Wan where the ferry terminal is located. I took the Turbojet ferry. Going to Macau I took the Super Class going back economy. I purchase the 8:30 am ticket however ride the 8:15 am since I arrived a bit early. You can purchase but board the earlier ferry subject to availability, but not vice versa. After the immigration clearance I went straight to the ferry. Visiting Macau is like a visit to another country where you need to chop your passport, surrender Hong Kong departure card and fill-in Macau arrival card. Journey through the ferry is about an hour. The boat is super efficient and scheduled at every 15 mins interval. Very convenient for economy return it cost you around RM130/pax. Super Class RM40 more for one way.

As scheduled arrived Macau at the Main Ferry Terminal around 9:15am. After the immigration clearance went to the bus stand for a ride to any of the casino. Macau is so famous with its casino, there more than 30 casinos around where most of it owned by Stanley Ho, a Hong Kong tycoon that start the casino business in Macau more than 40 years ago. Until today he dominated the Macau casino scene or maybe in Asia with more than 20 casinos in Macau are owned by Stanley. However currently at the age of 86 he is battling with the wealth and fortune crisis with his owned family. The news made an headlines in Hong Kong daily since my stay there. Oh forgot to mentioned, the ferry that I rode and the terminal that I used in Hong Kong is also owned by the tycoon.

At the bus stand various buses are on standby ready to pick you to any of the casino. There are a lot of famous casinos around like the MGM, Sands, Wynn, City of Dreams, Venitian, Golden Lisbao, Galaxy and many more. And more are still in the pipeline as you can see more and more massive construction works are on-going. Its like another Las Vegas here. The best part is most of the casinos especially the established one are providing a free shuttle from the ferry terminals and airport to ferry people to their casino. So you can just travel around Macau by hop on or hop off to any of the shuttle bus provided. Just get to know where there are heading to and what is nearby. For a start, I jump into the City of Dreams bus for a ride to their casino. Why am I choosing City of Dreams is due to there is a Hard Rock Hotel located there. Since my hobby is collecting the shot glass, its normal not to miss my Hard Rock to any of the places that I visited. By the way the temperature there is around 16deg C and the best part is I forgot my fleece in the hotel. So with not much of choice I just gone through the cold weather. But its okay, luckily I wear a long sleeve t-shirt.

The journey to the City of Dreams from the Ferry Terminal is only around the 15 minutes. Upon entering the main entrance of the casino, I saw a huge screen that they terms as a bubble, due to the screen reflect almost exactly as the underwater world with a water bubbles from the fish, a corals and in fact a mermaid swimming inside. Very beautiful though. Then I walk inside the casino for a glimpse of the gambling scenario before proceed to the Hard Rock Hotel Shop. Maybe it is still early in the morning. Not much people around. Manage to get my shot glass and a t-shirt from the shop.

After City of Dreams, I went to the famous Venitian which is located opposite of the City of Dreams. Here the design and interior are resembling the setup of Venice, Italy. The hotel ceilings and decor are very much Roman. They even have the gondolas inside of the shopping mall with a ceiling reflected of the sky with clouds. The casino is also quite empty. I just proceed to the shopping area and buy some Venitian souvenir. The mall is quite big with a lot of branded labels. But not really crowded.

After strolling around inside the mall for about an hour, I went to the shuttle bus stand for a ride back to the Ferry Terminal. Well forgot to mention, Macau, like Hong Kong is divided into the island of Taipa/Coloane and the Macau Peninsular. Both places are connected with two bridges. After alight the Venitian shuttle at the Ferry Terminal I took a bus ride to the Golden Lisbao. The complex of Golden Lisboa that consists of a hotel and and casino is quite unique in nature. With a gold glass facade it resemble a spectacular building design that easily made the building as a landmark of Macau. From Golden Lisbao I make a short walk to the famous Macau World Heritage, the Senado Square. The walk is around 7-8 minutes. The 3.7km Leal Senado is paved with a wave pattern mosaic of colored stones. The design is also very unique.

For information, a large section of Macau Peninsula has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site and 25 buildings and sites within the area have been deemed to have cultural and historic significance.

At Senado Square, it is connected to various other historical building and sites in Macau that giving you a glimpse of history of Macau past colonisation by Portugal with the influnece of Chinese. In fact Portugese language is widely used in Macau and all signage are displaying the Portugese words. It is quite crowded at the Senado Square, maybe it is because of weekend. So I decided to just take some photos and take a walk through the World Heritage Walk Circuit to the Ruin of St. Paul.


After some shots of photographs, I take some time climbing the Monte Fort for a short rest and watch the old part of Macau from the hill of the Fort. Basically the the area is a bit similar with St. Paul hill in Malacca. Maybe due to the strong influence of the Portugese.

After that I take a walk back to Leal Senado and walk through the city to the Wynn Casino. A nice modern and classic architecture can be seen along the way. After arriving at the Wynn I take the shuttle bus to the Ferry Terminal back. At the terminal I board a bus to the Sands casino. From there I take a walk at the seafront located opposite the Sands building and not for away from the terminal though. At the seafront area there are the Fisherman Wharf and seaside commercial area that themed with some of the old Greek monuments, volcano and a Chinese Temple. Its like a theme park but quite empty though. Only some married couples taking the wedding photographs with some tourist like me around. Not far from the wharf there are a building known as Oceanus that resemble of the Beijing Water Cube. After a short walk I arrived at the Ferry Terminal back. Although my ticket back to Hong Kong is scheduled at 6:15pm, I decided to take the early ferry at 4:45pm as I think I am done in Macau. My planned to take a sky jump at the Macao Tower has to be canceled as I think not this time as I have a paper to be presented later on Tuesday.

Well after take the ferry ride, I leave Macau in satisfaction as in a day I have sample the unique and beautiful Macau. At least I have pinned my JOURNEY here.



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Location:Calcada de S. Paulo,Santo Antonio,Macau

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bye Bye 2010 .... Welcome 2011...

Maybe a bit late to wish as per my first blog title of the year. However as people always said, better late than never. Hahaha. No new entry since May, well as usual a cliche reason ...BUSY... When we will not be busy? Well as people always said too when we are dead. So not to take it as a reason, just drop a few lines to the blog especially after almost 2 weeks in 2011.

2010 had passed, quite an interesting year too, however less travel only been to Saigon, Vietnam, Chiang Mai, Thailand and Singapore. The rest, a local trip around Malaysia especially for my much beloved hobby DIVING.

In 2010, managed to log my 100 dives in Tenggol Island somewhere in September. A great achievement for a hobby that I've started in 2008. However in 2011, maybe a bit less as I would like to concentrate more to land vacation especially to other continent of the world. Maybe once a quarter, with a total around 20 - 30 dives this year. Some plan in the pipeline, as usual opening dives, maybe in Tioman, overseas dive in Acheh, and maybe another 3 or 4 dive trips to Miri, Tenggol, Redang and Sipadan. Hopefully can be materialised.

On the land trip, this year already committed to Singapore purposely for the Universal Studio with some friends (my second visit after end of the year with my family members), Phnom Penh and Melbourne. If everything ok maybe in October an excursion to Europe.

Well that's it for the first entry of 2011. New blog layout for the new year. To all my reader do keep visit this blog. Will try (again) to regularly update my beautiful JOURNEY in this world.

Location:Jalan Nusa Putra 1/2E,Puchong,Malaysia