Uncovering Hong Kong at My Own Pace

How do I even start my story. It has been a little over a month after I flew back from Hong Kong and every weekend I could spare was either filled with something I had to do instead of writing this post or I couldn’t assemble my thoughts well on how that trip was like.

I was running away from an unfortunate event prior to this trip, this was exactly what I needed to get loose of the heavy feeling I was trying to unload myself from. Surprisingly, it turned out to be splendid. It was filled with a lot of firsts for me and it made me discover a lot of things about myself – the very essence of traveling. 

I was able to run away from those, but it costs me a lot of firsts aside from the fact that this was my first time to fly to Hong Kong despite of its easy access from the Philippines. I had an encounter with the immigration officer back in Manila which lasted more than the usual, I was held for a few more questions due to some eerie circumstances, apparently, somebody with the same name as I had, was black listed to fly out from the country. Having the same name without the suffix alerted them as a standard operating procedure. They started asking for travel clearances and other identification, the former I had none as I had to explain that this was the first interrogation after I had six foreign exits. You could just imagine how hard my heart pounded of the possibility of being denied exit - it was at their mere fingertip. A few more minutes of proving my guiltless identity and my pure travel intentions, I was allowed to exit and finally boarded my aircraft.

That was definitely a first. But this seems to be a series of firsts so right when I boarded my aircraft, the ground crew had to verify a few passengers onboard and double check our eligibility to be in that flight, they voiced out my name and had to check my boarding pass while I was already comfortably seated. A crew who I presume was new perhaps had things jumble up when we were checking in.  With everything finally in place, I couldn’t be at ease anymore, after that long day, all I wish that moment is to finally land in Hong Kong.

It was getting late night when we finally landed at Chep Lak Kok International Airport, I lost my sense of direction due to stress that day has caused me and I couldn't recall a detailed memory of how I got out of the arrival area except that I mistakenly fell in the OFW line at the immigration.

At the arrival hall, you can purchase your Octopus card at the customer service counter. This will be very essential to go anywhere in Hong Kong. The card can be used on Buses, Trams and MTR. You just have to reload it like a prepaid phone, the card can also be used in shopping or dining. 

We hopped on the bus to Causeway Bay which took about an hour from the airport and walked our way to the hostel. I was delighted to see what our hostel looks like, it has this hippie vibe I was looking for, if you want details about it, click: Yesinn Experience.  

It was a relief to finally see the sky scraper lights, it affirmed that I arrived at last, I couldn’t wait to start my Hong Kong adventure but what I really needed for the night was a decent meal without having to translate the menu.

Because we were literally just five hops from Time Square, there were some fast food shops available and McDonalds seems to be the most familiar so dinner was a quick fix.

Waking up the next day was very refreshing after that well deserved sleep. Ngong Pin Monastery where the Giant Buddha sits was the destination for the day. We had a few minutes to spare so we walked around Causeway Bay where our hostel was.  

Every waking second felt so special, maybe because I loved the idea of being away for quite a while with my mobile phone dumped deep in my luggage, no chances of phone calls and text messages. I enjoy having no access to phone when traveling although it could be really difficult.

Even a cup of house coffee in the morning at the hostel never felt as special as I had my first two cups in that head start. After a couple of trips, this was my first time to stay in a hostel boxed in a room shared by people of different races. This turned out to be so fun.

To go Ngong Pin, alight the MTR at Tung Chung station and board either the cable car or the bus to the Buddha, personal choice is the cable car as it gives you a breath taking view of the mountains and overlooking the airport. You may opt to purchase the tickets online as the queue at the ticket booth had us more than two hours in line, wasting most of our time although but the best part was I had funny travel buddies, Kuya Tom, Kuya Ken and I filled up the time cracking jokes so we didn’t had to feel the pain of waiting.

The view en route to the Giant Buddha was worth it and the bird’s eye view of airplanes taking off from the airport was a visual delight to an aviation fan such as myself. It took about a little more than thirty minutes when we finally spot the huge Buddha on top of a mountain. 

The heat slowed our motion so one must not forget to bring an umbrella during the summer and lots of fluids and a few bites packed inside your bag. It could a little physical specially that you have to climb an i-don’t-know-how-many steps to the Buddha itself.

Do not make a strict timeline when you are at the Ngong Pin because chances are, with the vast area of this place, you surely won't be able to go along well with your schedule. Grab some snacks at the Vegetarian Cafe with mouth watering pastries just beside the monastery.

Tung Chung station, the nearest MTR Station from the Cable Car has an outlet mall that one should never miss. Huge discounts and factory outlet prices overwhelmed me that I could not resist these pairs. Check out my instgram post on what I got from the outlet mall: "New Balance". This ripped me off early in the trip. Do make the Outlet Mall part of your Giant Buddha itinerary. 

The tiring day had us famished and exhausted but we were still up for some night walks, so we met up with my friend Hong who’s based in Hong Kong and swept the Temple Street for a wonderful night market shopping and a local dining experience.

Thanks to Hong, we didn’t have to endure translating and ordering. It is very essential if you know a local since they are the best tourist guides when travelling, and I realized this during my Taiwan trip, something I affirmed once again in Hong Kong, other than the Filipinos, the Chinese could be one of the most hospitable people on Earth. 


The following day was our chance to see Mickey. Nobody ever misses Disneyland when in Hong Kong, although it turned out to be not the best decision we have made, it was still such a wonderful experience to bring back your childhood.

Disneyland could have had been a good idea had it not been the painful summer sun and the summer crowd, the resort was canned with people, a lot of people on umbrellas.

The parade at the main lane had me all filled up already, it was very festive and I forgot I was actually tired. Other than that, the fireworks and the Golden Mickey show are the top three you should not miss.

(L-R) Me, Kuya Tom, Kuya Ken

A good idea I'm  glad we figured was to purchase your Disneyland tickets online to avoid the crowd. Just be sure to bring your credit card with you at the entrance. Food and beverages are not allowed inside but if you hide a bottle of water well inside your bag, I'm sure you'll survive hydration away from the expensive drinks inside.

With an itinerary all messed up, I figured it would be best to just scrap it off and hand pick the ones that appears very convenient to go to. Our roommate Rafa joined Kuya Tom and I in exploring The Peak that day. Joining us that day was my friend Pavlo who just arrived in Hong Kong so we met up with him in Central.

(L-R) Me, Pavlo, Rafa, Tom

It was Sunday and the infamous tram was surely filled with a bunch of people waiting to hop for the Peak so we decided to take the bus instead. It was a wise decision as it only took us about forty minutes at half the price. If you are like me who doesn't have the patience to endure long lines, hop on to Bus 15C from Central.

 The view from the top was spectacular, Pavlo even calls it the best skyscraper landscape he has ever seen. And true enough, with wind brushing through your cheeks and a magnificent stand point between the heavens and the earth, this was a moment to just breathe in deep and say what a wonderful world it is.

Pavlo tagged us along over a pool party and I was excited about it but Kuya Tom and I had to meet Kuya Ken at the Yesinn Hostel as we were checking in at Crowne Plaza that afternoon. Read the story here.

The night was growing old and even though I barely had a rest that lasted more than an hour, I was in no position to skip an opportunity to explore the city. I feel at my most outgoing state every time I travel and my wanderlust is stronger than any sore my body has been complaining.  So all the way from Tseung Kwan O, Hong became my chaperone to get my itchy feet wander and shop at Tsim Tsa Tsui. TST as it is commonly called is a famous urban area in Hong Kong and possibly the most exciting shopping district.

We only had one more day left in Hong Kong but the to-go list is endless. There’s a variety of Michelin Starred restaurants In Hong Kong and the top choice was to try their cheapest acclaimed restaurant – Tim Ho Wan. See our dining adventure here: Hong Kong Food Chronicles

With a few more minutes in the area, we walked around the streets of downtown Sham Shui Po where cheap merchandise and almost anything under the sun were on sale.

I didn’t just want to experience the modern Hong Kong but I wanted to explore its culture as well, I was fascinated to see how the Man Mo Temple looks on photos so I made sure it was part of our itinerary. It was awe-inspiring. The coil incenses were beautifully hanged from the ceiling with oriental lamps displayed everywhere. To reach the Man Mo Temple, from MTR Central Station Exit D2 and turn right to Theatre Lane. Walk along Queen's Road Central towards the Center. Then take the Central—Mid-Levels Escalator to Hollywood Road. 

En route to the temple, you get the chance to pass by the Mid Levels Escalator. It is longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world.

Walking along the streets of Hong Kong while it was getting past noon made me start to feel our nearing departure, it was six long days after all. It is one of my most dreaded moments in traveling. Just as much as you are having the time of your life, you somehow have to go back to where your life really revolves and although the fun stops for a while, it’s the beautiful experience that lingers more than the sadness the farewell is bidding. 

What better way to wrap up the Hong Kong chronicles but to end a day with the symphony of lights at the Victoria Harbor and watch the Junk float in the middle of you and the magnificent view of sky scrapers dancing to the tune of excitement. 

Get your self along the Avenue of Stars at Tsim Tsa Tsui and the rest of the sea side is definitely one of the best spots you would ever see in Hong Kong. 
Getting there early will guarantee you a good spot right before everybody else and the best spot for me was where we were standing, right in front of Intercontinental Hotel where the view angle was just spectacular.

It wasn’t after then that I realize why Hong Kong calls itself Asia’s World City. Within the humble land area the city boasts, it has everything it needs to make it a sustainable, efficient city. It is as if it is a world within a world, but it doesn’t forget its identity as a city rich in culture. I think that is what defines Asia's World City. 

With a bittersweet feeling, we had to say goodbye to our friends and had to rush to the hotel to start packing for an early morning flight the next day (for me at least) and said goodbye to Hong Kong with a glass of wine from the hotel’s rooftop bar. Cheers to a destination well traveled!

Hong Kong gave the impression of an ideal city to live. It was so much fun to commute, talk to random tourist inside the train or hop on a two Decker bus or tram. You see, these are really just mundane things, but you get to appreciate them more when you do it outside your comfort zone. It gives you a dose how it feels like to be a local. 

Aside from not missing your flight, the good thing about getting at the airport early is the chance to explore the Hong Kong International Airport, being the largest single passenger airport terminal. With numerous shops and restaurants inside, you definitely need some extra time before boarding.

Check out my instagram post: "Airport"

Not only did Hong Kong made me feel better about myself, it gave me a bunch of new friends, an experience worth every penny spent and some thoughts I couldn't be happier that I got.

The Wander Dan Notes:
  • Haggle. Always remember the golden rule in street market shopping. Play hard to get, and start the bid at the most reasonable (or even  not) price you could ever think of. Walk away if the merchant doesn't give it to you, chances are, they will call you back, or you can just find another stall that sells that item.
  • Study the MTR stations. There are a lot of exits inside and going out the wrong way might bring you to being lost. Although locals are really friendly so you could just ask for some help.
  • When dining in a restaurant, you pay your bill at the exit so you really can't expect the waiter to come pick up your money at your table or else you will be waiting until forever.
  • Try to find a good accommodation within the main spots to save time, though they may be a little more pricey.
  • Purchase tickets online as much as possible, with a famous destination such as Hong Kong, you aren't likely to be the only one wanting to visit a particular tourist spot.
  • Grab the free maps at the airport. It's like the guide for the dummies even if you think you aren't. Just get one.
  • Download Hong Kong Travel Guide apps such as Discover Hong Kong.
  • Pack your stuff according to the seasons. Wear the lightest during the summer, walking shorts are the best choice. 


  1. Marvellous description of the city... for me was one of the best experiencies during my asian trip. Met interesting people, views of great places and enjoyed with the surprising food...