Well, I am back from Hong Kong and Macau. What can I say about it - the first thing that comes to mind is that stuff is expensive there! Very very expensive. A dim sum breakfast for 5 at a recommended local restaurant cost 720HKD (RM350), normal dishes and rice lunches at a tourist restaurant for 5 cost 400HKD (RM200) and a normal lunch for 4 at a kopitiam (Char Chan Teng) cost 180KHD (RM90)!!! I think that should be enough to paint you the picture!
All our money was spent on food and transportation. Note that I did not mention shopping, yeah cos there was no shopping whatsoever! I bought 1 pair of shoes from the Ladies Market in Mongkok and uh, yeah, that was it. I went walking along the famous Nathan Road and uh, yeah, didn't get anything. There were lots and lots of shopping malls chock full of branded names - some I've not heard of but otherwise, they were mostly the same as our Gardens, MidValley and The Pavillion, KL. Nothing new, nothing exciting. I did go looking for an 'important piece of jewellery' in the various jewellers there like Chow Sang Sang and Chow Tai Fook but did not fall in love with anything. Furthermore, even though diamonds are tax free there and settings are supposed to be magical, the prices weren't that much lower than here in Malaysia and it was definitely not low enough to tempt me into buying something that expensive overseas.
So most of our money was spent on food where a simple Wan Tan Mee in a coffeeshop cost RM9 but food did taste rather good at certain places. The coffeeshop ware was normal and I didn't particularly fancy it. I also had good old porridge with yau char kuay which is standard breakfast fare as seen in Hong Kong TVB serials! What I didn't have was stinky tofu….it was my one major food item to try and we couldn't find it! Apparently, nobody sells those much anymore but damn! I already had a competition in my mind for the 5 of us to see who could eat the most stinky tofu!
We didn't buy the Octopus card even though that is recommended by everyone on travel sites. It was supposed to be easier and could be used at 7-11s (or the like) and gave you a little discount each time you used it to travel. We calculated the costs of our day trips which weren't many and added in the administrative fee we would be charged upon return of the card within 7 days and decided, we were better off taking a cab (non-peak hours of course) for the 5 of us than buying the card. Sis bought a card that included a free trip on the airport express though. There is also the daily card that gives you unlimited travel for HKD110 but the same logic applied, we weren't travelling around anywhere near that on a daily basis….
So, for travellers to HK - think before you buy!
We went to all the normal tourist spots in Hong Kong but skipped the Peak! Ahhhh - SHOCKERS! But yeah, we were too tired out from a day jaunt to Stanley Market (a seaside tourist location full of Air Itam - Kek Lok Si kind of shops that we just couldn't be bothered to take the tram up Victoria's Peak. Instead we settled for a view of night-time Hong Kong in all its neon splendour from across the bay at the Avenue of Stars (Tsim Tsa Shui). It was good enough!
In Macau, there wasn't anything much at all except for the casinos which, even so, only populated a stretch of road - there were the Sands, the MGM Grand, Wynn, Starworld, Lisboa, Grand Lisboa and several other smaller or more old time casinos like the Grand Emperor, Rio etc…. We stayed at Metropark Hotel which is within easy walking distance to the main casino strip - it's without its own casino (for better or for worse) but we had good sized, nice rooms with good amenities and a wonderful breakfast buffet. I booked online so there was a good rate for it too - RM300 per room. Our trip was Macau-HK-Macau cos it was so much cheaper to fly out of Macau than HK but I didn't book a return trip room at Macau - wasn't sure if the parents wanted to spend more time at the Venetian which is on another island altogether (Taipa) or Macau Island which was more happening. When we got back, Metropark was full and we ran away to the Holiday Inn which was close by - the rooms there cost us RM325 a night. If you buy from a travel agent, you get a wee discount but the Holiday Inn does not provide a free breakfast - silly people! BUT they provided a little hair tie in their toiletries tray! Wow! First, Avillion impressed me with their little talcum powder but this one was a close second!
We stayed at the Anne Black YWCA in Kowloon, Hong Kong. It was as nice as a youth hostel could be I suppose. The bathroom was clean and towels and the usual suspects among toiletries were provided. Walking distance to the Ladies Market and even Nathan Road if you can walk. If not, the taxi will only cost RM8 or RM15 depending on where you get off at Nathan Road. The MTR (subway, lrt, metro, underground) stop of Yau Ma Tei is also about 15-20 mins walking distance away. All taxis start off at RM8.
What I noticed about HK is that there are many there who love their dogs - they are always well-behaved and well groomed. I guess they save all their love for their dogs cos HK people are less amiable and friendly and helpful when compared to the Macanese. The Macanese were ever ready to speak English and help - the policeman would walk aways away to ask an English speaking person for help if they couldn't! Oh yeah, a note to remember, if at all possible, get the chinese pronunciation of your hotel name cos it is very likely the Macanese and Hong Kees do not know the English name of your hotel. When you get there, get a card!
In Macau, sis took us on the UNESCO Heritage Trail - unless you are really into history and walking and sweating (it was 29 degrees in Oct), just do St. Paul's ruins, should be sufficient!
In HK we walked a lot at the Central area - you know the one with the Mid-levels Longest Escalator in the world - it didn't look anything like what I expected. It was just sections and sections of escalator winding through streets.
Wow - this has been a long post but generally, just remember that:
HK and Macau are expensive.
Macau people are always ready to help while Hkees always seem to be in a fouler mood
There is no shopping to be done except if you are into BRANDED goods
So, Happy 60th Birthday DAD! He certainly made the most of his birthday trip and even won at the tables!!!