Jani Jermans – Travel Diaries

June 1, 2024

Hong Kong and Macau

Filed under: International Travel — jani @ 7:10 pm

When Sur had a long weekend, we decided on an impromptu trip to Hong Kong and Macau, taking advantage of the visa-on-arrival policy for Indians. Both destinations were on my bucket list, and this spontaneous trip was the perfect opportunity to explore them.

About Hong Kong: Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, is renowned as one of the world’s most significant financial centers and commercial ports. It ranks as the fourth global financial center, ninth-largest exporter, and eighth-largest importer. The Hong Kong dollar is the ninth most traded currency globally.

Visa: Before we proceed, it’s important to note that Hong Kong offers visa on arrival for Indian nationals. However, you need to fill out the pre-arrival registration form, which can be found on the following link (https://www.immd.gov.hk/eng/services/visas/pre-arrival_registration_for_indian_nationals.html) Ensure you carry this form with you while traveling.

About Macau Macau, known as the “Las Vegas of Asia,” is famous for its casinos, luxury hotels, and Portuguese colonial architecture. The city has a unique blend of cultures and offers a vibrant atmosphere with plenty of entertainment options.

Day 1: Arrival and Initial Exploration in Hong Kong

We took a midnight flight with Cathay Pacific and, after 5.30 hours of travel, landed in Hong Kong. The flight experience was good. Once we landed in HK, we noticed the airport was bustling with activity, but we smoothly got through immigration. They handed over an entry stamp sticker along with the immigration form which needs to be kept safe until you exit the country. Upon stepping out, we caught an airport taxi to our hotel, Silka Seaview.

We arrived at the hotel in the morning, hoping for an early check-in. Thankfully, the staff accommodated us, possibly because we had booked a week-long stay. Our room, however, was a stark reminder of Hong Kong’s notorious space constraints—it was tiny, with barely any room for our luggage. The bathroom was even smaller, making it quite challenging to shower or move around. With no sitting area, the bed became our only spot for resting and working.

Hungry and eager to explore, we ventured out for lunch. We found LY Nathan Café in Nathan Street, which quickly became our go-to spot. Sur enjoyed the pineapple bun with fried egg and cheese, while I had the fried pork chop with macaroni soup. We also tried a local hot beverage, watercress honey drink, but found it too sweet for our taste.

After lunch, we headed to the nearby temple, but it was closed. So, we proceeded to the Ladies Market, where I met my friend Varun, who works in Hong Kong. It was wonderful catching up after so many years. Varun helped us get an Octopus card, which is incredibly useful for tourists. It can be used for metro rides and payments at various places, and the balance can be refunded upon departure.

Post getting the Octopus cards, we explored the bustling Ladies Market, enjoying the vibrant atmosphere and myriad stalls. For dinner, Varun took us to Yinlong Tea Restaurant in Mong Kok. I tried the highly recommended beef brisket with noodles, which was delicious. Sur enjoyed his French toast with snow sugar and stuffed peanut butter.

Next, we visited the Wine and Cigar Club to pick up some good cigars and have a couple of drinks. We then went to Wan Chai, where the street was already closed, but we admired the beautiful Chinese lights adorning the area. We took a leisurely walk around and then visited Lockhart Road, known for its nightlife. After soaking in the lively ambiance, we returned to our hotel for a good night’s sleep.

Day 2: Ngong Ping 360 and Lantau Cultural Heritage Tour

Taking Varun’s advice, we pre booked our sightseeing tickets through Klook for the Ngong Ping 360 + Lantau Cultural and Heritage Insight Tour. We reached Tung Chung in the morning and had breakfast at Hong Kong Day. I had beef satay with instant noodles, while Sur opted for turnip pudding with toast and omelette. Unfortunately, Sur didn’t enjoy the turnip pudding.

Next, we headed to the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car station. We had booked the crystal cabin, which features an ultra-transparent glass floor, offering stunning views below. The 25-minute ride was breathtaking, providing panoramic views of the airport, mountains, and beaches.

Upon arriving at Ngong Ping Village, we took some photos and then boarded a bus to Tai O Fishing Village, the largest island in Lantau. We enjoyed a boat ride through the village, admiring the stilt houses made from imported Indonesian wood and capturing postcard-worthy shots of Sun Ki Bridge. I tried some dried squid from Cat Store (Tai O Dei Mao Li), a local snack that I enjoyed, though Sur stayed far away from it.

We then visited On the Edge Café to try Ottoman Coffee, baklava, and blueberry cheesecake, which Sur particularly enjoyed. We explored the nearby street market and tasted mango matcha donuts. Unfortunately, the mango matcha tasted like raw flour, so we couldn’t eat more than a bite. We also bought sorrel flowers and stems to make tea, which was quite interesting.

Afterward, we visited the Big Buddha Statue, the second-largest of its kind in the world, and the Po Lin Monastery. We spent some time praying and taking in the serene atmosphere before heading back to the cable car point.

We had a delicious meal at Burger Café near the cable car station before boarding the cable car for our return trip. The day was filled with amazing experiences, from the scenic cable car ride to the cultural insights and delicious food. We returned to our hotel with wonderful memories of our second day in Hong Kong.

Day 3: Temples, Museums, and a Light Show Cruise

We started the day by visiting the Yau Ma Tei Tin Hau Temple, conveniently located next to our hotel. The Tin Hau Temple Complex in Kowloon consists of five adjacent buildings: Tin Hau Temple, Shing Wong Temple, Kwun Yum Temple, Shea Tan, and Hsu Yuen. The nearby Temple Street is named after this complex. We explored the park where locals relax and play in the evenings. After offering a prayer in the temple, we headed to our frequent breakfast spot, Li Nathan Café.

Post breakfast, we visited the Hong Kong Museum of History. Although many buildings were closed for renovation, we managed to see the space exhibition, which was fascinating.

Next, we went to the Rooftop Garden at Kowloon Station, a nice place to relax and enjoy the cityscape.

We made a quick visit to the M+ Global Museum of Visual Culture, which features contemporary visual art. We didn’t spend too much time here but appreciated the diverse exhibits.

We took a stroll through the Art Park and stopped at Lucky Star mobile shops for a quick bite. Unfortunately, the hot dogs and waffles were disappointing. We then visited the Palace Museum which were quite interesting and offered rich cultural insights.

I decided to try a local delicacy, bird’s nest with dates and lotus seeds, at Xia Restaurant. It was very sweet, but since it was a new experience, I didn’t want to waste it

We walked along the waterfront, enjoying the beautiful sunset views. To pass the time before our evening cruise, we stopped at Ink Seafood Bar. We had delicious burgers while soaking in the ambiance.

In the evening, we boarded a cruise to watch the Symphony of Lights show. The light show was spectacular, and enjoying it with drinks on the cruise made it a memorable experience. After disembarking, we headed back to our hotel for a well-deserved rest.

Day 4: Ocean Park Adventure and Temple Street Night Market

We initially planned to visit Ocean Park, a popular zoological theme park known for its dry rides. However, we accidentally booked tickets for the Waterfront section instead. Realizing our mistake upon arrival, we purchased the correct tickets for Ocean Park. Fortunately, we could hand over the Waterfront tickets to Varun as they had a longer validity.

We started our day at Ocean Park with a scenic cable car ride. The views were stunning, and it set the tone for an exciting day. Our first stop was the Rainforest Walk, an engaging experience that showcased the Amazon ecosystem. It was fascinating to learn about the diverse flora and fauna.

Next, we visited the aquarium, where we saw seals, black ghost knife fish, and blind cave tetra—creatures we had never seen before. The penguins were a highlight, and we enjoyed watching them from the Tuxedo Restaurant while having lunch.

After lunch, we tried milk with lotus seeds and jellies, an interesting and refreshing treat. We then explored the rides before heading to Old Hong Kong Street. This section was a delightful journey back in time, offering a glimpse into the culture and lifestyle from the 1950s to the 1970s. We sampled some old street food, including dan dan noodles with minced pork and winter melon puff, which were delicious.

While Ocean Park was more kid-oriented and Sur had to take a few work calls, Varun and I decided to explore the Temple Street Night Market in the evening. The market was bustling with activity, and we discovered some Indian stalls. We tasted parotta and chicken curry, which was a pleasant surprise, and did some shopping.

After shopping, we sat nearby and enjoyed a beer, reflecting on the day’s adventures. We then headed back to the hotel to rest and recharge for the next day.

Day 5: Disneyland Hong Kong

was really looking forward to visiting Disneyland Hong Kong, my first Disneyland experience. Although rides usually trigger my headaches, I was eager to experience the magical atmosphere of the park. Despite booking for a weekday, it was still quite crowded. We decided to upgrade our tickets to expedite access to some of the rides, which was a wise decision given the crowd.

The park was a beautiful wonderland, and I was awestruck by the elaborate flower decorations and overall setup. We started our day with a quick bite at Main Street Bakery, enjoying a ham and tuna Danish and a pineapple bun.

Our first attraction was Tarzan’s Treehouse. The boat ride to the treehouse was lovely, and the setup was stunning. Next, we headed to the Grizzly Gulch for the Grizzly Bear ride. I knew I could handle only one crazy ride, and this one was enough for me.

We then visited Mystic Manor, an intriguing ride where you sit in an electric chair that takes you through different themed rooms. It was a unique experience. After that, we watched the PhilharMagic 3D movie, which was quite fascinating.

We took a lunch break, though I didn’t particularly enjoy the seafood soup. After lunch, we went on a Jungle Cruise, which I enjoyed, while Sur took on a few more thrilling rides that I couldn’t handle.

Our last ride was “It’s a Small World,” a gentle boat ride showcasing different cultures from around the world. I found it charming, though Sur seemed bored, giving me a few dirty stares.

Also we saw the parade in the evening which was beautiful

After returning to the hotel, I took Sur to Temple Street Night Market, hoping he could try some Indian dishes. While I relished the parotta, Sur didn’t enjoy his meal as much. We did some shopping and noticed some interesting sex toys being sold near the temple park, which was quite surprising. Most of the tourists were smiling and walking around, adding to the lively and somewhat quirky atmosphere of the market.

We returned to the hotel and crashed for the night, reflecting on the magical yet exhausting day at Disneyland.

Day 6: Madame Tussauds and Cheung Kong Park

We started our day with a trip to Victoria Peak via the tram. The weather was foggy, which limited our visibility at the peak, but we still enjoyed our visit to Madame Tussauds. We took lots of postcard-worthy pictures with the wax figures and Varun was most excited the most to take the pictures and we all had fun despite the foggy view.

After descending from Victoria Peak, we stopped at Pacific Coffee in St. John’s Building. We enjoyed some pastries and tried unique drinks like the rose dragon fruit latte and rose latte, which were delightful.

Next, we headed to Cheung Kong Park, a zoological and botanical garden. The garden was stunning with its variety of flowers, and we loved strolling through the serene environment.

Our walk then took us to Man Mo Temple, dedicated to the Civil or Literature God Man Tai / Man Cheong and the Martial God Mo Tai. The temple’s atmosphere was peaceful and reflective, providing a nice contrast to the bustling city.

For lunch, we went to Le Laksa on Queen’s Street, where we enjoyed delicious Singaporean dishes like chicken and prawn skewers. The food was fantastic and satisfied our cravings for something different.

After lunch, we headed to Golden Arcade for Sur to explore and shop for electronic items. We then visited the Sham Shui Po market, where we did some shopping and soaked in the vibrant market atmosphere.

We also took the time to book our tickets for Macau, ensuring our next adventure was all set.

After a fulfilling day of sightseeing, shopping, and delicious food, we headed back to the hotel to rest and recharge for the next day’s activities.

Day 7: Arrival in Macau

Breakfast at Red Tea After a good rest, we decided to try Red Tea, a restaurant we’d noticed always had a big queue. Despite our limited time, we managed to grab breakfast there. I enjoyed ham and egg noodle soup while Sur settled for his usual pineapple bun, which he appreciated for its generous use of butter.

To travel to Macau, we needed to clear immigration and received Macau entry stamp stickers, which we had to keep until our departure. We boarded the TurboJet and had booked premium Grand tickets, which gave us priority seating in the front. The VIP seating was mostly empty, and the hospitality was excellent, with refreshments served. The VIP tickets also included a drop-off at our hotel.

Upon reaching Macau, we headed to our hotel, the Greenery Inn. After spending a week in a cramped room in Hong Kong, the spacious room at Greenery Inn was a welcome relief. It even had a seating area near the window, which we appreciated.

We went to the nearby Victoria Harbour Restaurant for lunch and ordered soup. Here, we encountered a challenge: unlike in Hong Kong, English was not widely spoken in Macau. The signs were in Portuguese, and few people spoke English. We used a translator app to order our meal, which helped us navigate the language barrier.

Day 8: Sightseeing in Macau

Since we only had one day in Macau, we booked a sightseeing tour. However, getting to the pick-up point proved to be a challenge. Signboards were in Portuguese, and few people spoke English. Additionally, we needed exact change for the bus fare, and our Octopus card from Hong Kong didn’t work here. Thankfully, a helpful student guided us on where to get off the bus, and we managed to reach just in time to catch our tour bus, much to the surprise of our guide.

Once on the tour, our guide provided detailed explanations as we explored the city. We passed by landmarks such as the Grand Prix Macau, the statue of Kun Iam (goddess of mercy), and glimpsed the border with China on the other side.

Our first stop was A-Ma Temple, dedicated to the Holy Mother. Afterward, we visited Koi Kei Bakery, renowned for its delicious egg tarts, which we savored and also took some to go.

Next on the itinerary was the iconic Macau Tower, followed by a visit to the ruins of St. Paul’s, which had a fascinating history of burning down thrice during construction. It was surprising to learn about its mishap. The streets around it were paved with Goan cobblestones, adding to the charm.

We explored Senado Square, a bustling hub for shopping, before heading to the Venetian, the largest casino in Macau. Inside, it felt like a different world, but as it was my first time in a casino, I just took a quick glance before returning.

After a day filled with sightseeing and new experiences, we returned to the hotel for a much-needed rest. Despite the challenges with transportation and language barriers, we managed to make the most of our time in Macau, forming friendships within our tour group along the way.

Day 9: Return to Bangalore

We checked out of our hotel in Macau and boarded the TurboJet, which had arranged a pick-up for us. The journey back to Hong Kong was smooth and comfortable.

Upon arrival in Hong Kong, we made sure to surrender our Octopus card at the airport to get the remaining balance refunded. It was a straightforward process, and we appreciated the convenience of using the card throughout our trip.

After completing the formalities with the Octopus card, we proceeded to the airport for check-in. Thankfully, everything went smoothly, and we were soon ready to board our flight back home.

Our flight back to Bangalore was uneventful, and we landed safely at our destination. It marked the end of our memorable journey through Hong Kong and Macau, filled with adventures, cultural discoveries, and new experiences.


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