Hong Kong 2012 (Part 1, Ngong Ping | The Peak)

We arrived at the Chek Lap Kok Airport around 8 in the morning. We went through the immigration line quite a bit surprised that we were almost the first in the queue. It only took us a minute or two to get our passport stamped and be admitted to this “country”. For convenience, we purchased our octopus cards right away. For convenience + cost savings, we also purchased all our entrance tickets at the China Travel Service (CTS) booth. CTS offers discounted tickets to all the major tourist attractions in Hong Kong (and Macau).

The usual check-in time for all hotels in Hong Kong is 2pm. To make the most of the free time between 8 am and 2pm, we decided it would be best to visit Ngong Ping. There were 2 ways to go to Ngong Ping, most people’s first choice is to take the cable car (called NP 360). The other choice is to take Bus 23. Both options are accessible from Tung Chung which is a few minutes away from the airport by riding the S1 bus. Tung Chung also happens to have the Citygate Mall. If you have luggages, you can leave them on the lockers at the mall’s basement for a minimal fee.

Citygate Mall @ Tung Chung

Citygate Mall @ Tung Chung

Bus 23 Terminal

Bus 23 Terminal – It’s located at the foot of NP 360’s entrance

We would have taken NP 360; but with some luck it was closed for maintenance. We consider ourselves lucky because 2 days later we will find out that riding a cable car is not our thing. Riding the bus 23 ain’t too bad, there’s several scenic views along the way, like this one:

A quarry?

A quarry?

The bus ride to Ngong Ping takes approximately 45 mins. We were dropped off right in front of the entrance of the village. The Giant Buddha greeted us with a smile. Too bad it’s quite foggy that day.

Ngong Ping Village and Po Lin Monastery

Ngong Ping Village and Po Lin Monastery

It was really cold that day, my cardigan could not keep me warm enough. We opted to visit the monastery first and have a quick bite since were already hungry and cold. Bad decision! It turns out that if you purchase a ticket to enter the Buddha museum, that also entitles you to a free snack from the cafe! The ticket costs a little more than 20 HKD. That’s almost the same amount we paid for the snacks. We ended up having 2 servings of these:

Snack @ Po Lin Monastery

The free snack includes a serving of this fried noodles + 2 choices of baked goodies + drink

Now that we have taken care of our tummies.. It’s time to meet the Giant Buddha! He is sitting atop a veeeeerrrrrry high hill. It’s no wonder the monks who reside here are physically fit. They’re vegetarians and they have a good form of exercise. After taking our time climbing the steps, we’re finally face-to-foot with the Giant Buddha. We almost didn’t see Buddha’s face because of the very thick fog.

Giant Buddha

Giant Buddha

Since there’s not much to see because of the thick fog, we left Ngong Ping to pick up our luggage at Citygate. We then took the train to the city to check-in at out hotel of choice – Casa Hotel. I paid 1870 HKD for 3 nights through Booking.com. I chose Booking.com over Agoda because there’s no fee if you cancel your trip 3 days before the check-in date. The rooms in this Casa Hotel are small, just good enough for 2 persons. The bathroom is the tiniest bathroom I’ve been in.  But we never felt shortchanged. The hotel’s staff are very accommodating. The rooms are very clean. The hotel is also just a minute away from Yau Ma Tei station. It’s very accessible; YMT is serviced by the red and green line of the MTR. We took a bit of a rest then headed for our next destination – the Avenue of Stars and the Old Clock Tower in Tsim Sha Tsui. I used Google Maps to search for the bus that leave around that time.

Clock Tower

Clock Tower

Maybe it’s the cold weather, maybe because it started to rain? I don’t know the real reason but we never really found the “stars” in the Avenue of Stars! We thought we’re running out of time so we took the ferry to Central. From there, we rode the Bus 15 to reach the Peak Tram terminus. The Peak is a major tourist attraction. It’s no surprise the lines are already long.

The Peak Tram queue

The Peak Tram queue

Madame Tussaud’s HK is also housed here at The Peak. I’ve visited Madame Tussaud’s New York before so I can’t help but compare. NY’s version is much bigger with more floors, therefore more space for more wax figures. HK’s version has local celebrities that most Filipinos won’t recognize. If you have the money, I say it’s still worth it. My companion, who’s a first timer, really enjoyed being with the celebrities! 🙂  Here’s some of the figures I can recognize:

Madame Tussaud's HK

Madame Tussaud’s HK

Our Sky Terrace tickets were wasted, we used them but there’s nothing to see! All of HK was covered with fog that night. It’s as if the clouds all gathered there. We didn’t stay long at the viewing deck because it’s also too cold! We also didn’t use our tram ticket to go back, the queue was so long people are already queuing outside the building. We just opted to ride Bus 15C back to Central and head “home” to our hotel.

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