Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hong Kong, Macau, and Shenzhen Trip

Hong Kong is a cosmopolitan of steel and concrete. Hustle-bustle streets, highways, underground tunnels and railways, and ferries lines webbing across the city, forming a system that connects millions of people within the city.

Scenery of Hong Kong Island and the peninsular of Kowloon from the Peak.

The dense high-rises line closely along the road.

In May 2012, we took a 7 days 6 nights trip to Hong Kong, Macau, and Shenzhen (or Shen Zhen). Our itinerary is as follows:

First day, we arrived at Hong Kong International Airport around 6:15 pm, settled down at our hotel around 8:00 pm, and then we took our dinner at an eatery a street away from our hotel. Second day, we spent quite some time in the morning to get ourselves familiar with the public transportation system in Hong Kong. Then, we took a long trip to the southern part of Hong Kong Island to visit Repulse Bay (浅水弯) and Ocean Park (海洋公园). We spent a whole day there. We stopped at Mong Kok (旺角) for dinner on our way back to our hotel.

Third day, Hong Kong Disneyland filled the whole day. As we were getting more familiar with the public transportation system, our trip went smoothly throughout the day. Fourth day, we took a day trip to Macau (澳门). We visited Temple Street Night Market (庙街) at night, after we had returned to Hong Kong from Macau.

Fifth day, we had our Hong Kong Island trip by visiting The Peak (太平山顶), where we enjoyed the 360 degree view over the island, followed by the Golden Bauhinia Square (金紫荆广场) and Causeway Bay (铜锣湾). We went to Tung Choi Street (通菜街) and Ladies Street (女人街) to take our dinner afterward. We strolled around the street for a while before we continued our trip to Avenue of Stars to witness the world's largest light and sound show there.

Sixth day, we travelled northward to Shenzhen using MTR. We visited the Eye of the World (世界之窗) and did some shopping around the terminal of Luo Hu (罗湖). We came back to Malaysia in the morning of our seventh day.

We used to think that Hong Kong is a very big city with excellent public transportation system, uncountable high rises, good looking celebrities, and of course, a place with the wrestling between the police and the mafia, as what we could see in Hong Kong movies. After we visited Hong Kong, we gained the real experience of staying at Hong Kong.

Firstly, about the public transportation system in Hong Kong. It is very systematic, but complex. We found the most confusing part within the system is the link between different commuter lines. For example, Central MTR Station is located quite near to the bus station to Repulse Bay, but we need to go upstairs and downstairs, with a few turns in between. The information stated in the station was too much to be digested in a short period of time. The ferry terminal to Macau at Kowloon can only be accessed through the shopping mall of Hong Kong Gateway Towers. Well, we don't think that it is as simply as follows "33 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong" to get to the place, as we couldn't find any clue about the terminal outside of the shopping mall. The Central Terminal at Hong Kong Island is even worse. We were led to a big shopping mall (Shun Tat Center) just after we went out from the ferry terminal. There was no sign or direction given to lead us to Sheung Wan Station, not until we reached the ground floor of the shopping mall. Well, we were forced to "shop" in the mall for about 10 minutes to find our way to the MTR station (we will mention more about this later).

Then, about the automatic ticketing system using Octopus Card (八通卡). There was no instruction or manual given on how to utilize the card. Well, we thought that it should be quite similar to "Touch and Go" card in Malaysia. We were right, partly. For the part which we were wrong, we had to learn it in the hard way (extra fee was paid). Later in the evening, we came out with a conclusion- we could get all the precise information only if we cross-refer several tourist's maps and guides together. Plus, "fine-tune" our direction by asking the people along the way. A few try and error and together with the help from the locals, we learned constructively and could get along with the transportation system starting on our day 3.

Pedestrian walkways are almost everywhere and convenient in connecting places in Hong Kong. Many of these walkways are built elevated from the ground.

The electric commuter train or been called MTR in Hong Kong is the major transportation system in Hong Kong. The station can be identified by the red and white oval sign (upper left). Most of the stations in the city are air-conditioned. The seats on the train are very limited. However, finding a place to stand is not a problem.

Beside MTR, other transportation lines such as the buses and the electric trams (upper left) are available with many intersecting points to connect them. The public transports are always overloaded with passengers (upper right). We have to go to the main road in order to get a taxi (lower left). There is no special stand for the taxi in most of the part in Hong Kong. The taxi's fare is counted by meter. The ferries transporting people between Hong Kong and Macau has the facilities that similar to aircraft cabin.

We want to mention a little bit more about the Octopus Card, which we bought from MTR station. The card is like a debit card for ticketing purpose only (more convenience, plus, we can enjoy the discounted fare for MTR). We need to top up the card before we can use it. For MTR (the trains), we have to scan the card at the entrance and the exit of the stations. We will be charged upon the exit (scan the card at the sensor, just like what we have in Malaysia, and the fare will be deducted from the card). For the bus, it's different. Once we get onto the bus, the maximum fee for the trip will be charged on our card. If our destination is the last stop of the route, then we don't have to scan the card again on the sensor. However, if we disembark somewhere at the middle, we need to scan the card to claim back the extra fee. The electric tram line in Hong Kong Island uses different ticketing system from the others. For electric tram, we need to pay only when we are leaving the tram (so we just need to scan the card once, before we leave the tram). The fare for the tram is fixed, without considering the distance. The tram to the Peak is using the same system with the electric tram.

Octopus card.

From our observation, the taxi drivers in Hong Kong were good in Cantonese only. They tended to answer in simple and short when we talked to them in Mandarin or English. However, they can understand Mandarin and English well. The fare of taxi is charged according to the meter. It is must for the passenger to fasten their safety belt in taxi.

We would like to comment a bit about the people in Hong Kong. By first impression, they were impolite and inpatient (we are willing to share our personal experiences through email only). They really made us feel bad about Hong Kong. However, some good people that we met afterwards remedied our a bit. The shopkeepers around our hotel turned to be more friendly to us after seeing us for several times (as we stayed 7 days 6 nights at the same location). We will share our more of our experiences in our next few posts.

We visited Repulse Bay and Ocean Park on our second day in Hong Kong. Follow us now.

We will share our experience at Macau and Shenzhen soon.


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  2. Hi Ms Betty,
    Your blog is very helpful. Thanks. Me and my friends are going to HK also by September and Shenzhen is included in our itinerary. Would just like to know if we need to get VISA ahead to get to Shenzhen? If so, how many days ahead? Or we could just get the Visa at Lo Wu and go to Shenzhen right away?
    Thanks for your attention,

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