Saturday, July 28, 2012

Shenzhen- Window of the World

We took a single day trip to Shenzhen, China, as part of our Hong Kong trip. Our complete itinerary is available at our  Hong Kong, Macau, and Shenzhen post. In Shenzhen, we visited Window of the World, which is a well-known theme park in the city.

We took MTR from Hong Kong to Luohu Station. The station is connected to Luobao MTR line, which brought us straight to the entrance of Window of the World. The whole journey took us around 2 hours (35 minutes from Tsim Sha Tsui East to LuoHu Station, 25 minutes to clear all the immigration procedures, 35 minutes from LuoHu to Window of the World Station, plus queuing, waiting etc.). The MRT ticket at Shenzhen could only be bought from the auto ticketing machine. We found that Renminbi that we brought exceeded the highest limit that the machine could accept. Luckily, we found the exchange counter, offering free service to change for smaller value note and coins. The information about Luobao line is available on this page.

The entrance fee for Window of the World is Renminbi 140 per adult (around RM 73 or USD 23). Cheaper compared to the Ocean Park and Disneyland in Hong Kong. It opens from 9 am to 11:30 pm daily. The theme park is divided into several areas, namely The World Square, The Area of Asia, The Area of Oceanic, The Area of Europe, The Area of Africa, The Area of America, The Sculpture Park, and The International Street. Among all the areas, we like The Area of Asia and the Area of Europe the most.

Luohu Immigration buiding.

This is the scene outside of the immigration building.

It was a rainy day. The rain fell once in a while for the whole day. Luckily, we brought an umbrella with us. This photo shows the entrance of Window of the World within the arch on the left, while the arch on the right is the exit.

This photo was taken at the exit of the park, right after the arch. The pyramid structure resembles Louvre Museum in Paris is the access point to the MTR station.

The entrance lead to a big open air theatre. The theatre is surrounded by structures and relief walls that represent the civilization of the world. Behind us, Egypt. Further behind, prominent Eiffel Tower that we could see it within the theme park.

This blue gate is big. It is located on the right side of the stage.

From the theatre, we turned left and entered The Area of Asia, where some replicas of the buildings from Japan were located, as shown in the photos. We found Borobudur and Angkor Wat as well. Anyway, they are much more less significant than the real structures. You might like to read our sharing about real Borobudur and Angkor Wat.

We watch 4D movie here underneath Fujiyama. The movie is free. It is the one and the only one free entertainment service in the park. So, please make sure that you don't miss it. It is located opposite of the Itsukushima Shrine.

Taj Mahal, India!

The next area we entered was The Area of Oceanic, where we saw Sydney Opera House.

Little Mermaid Statue in Copenhagen, looking at the St. Mark's Square in Venice? This scene is solely available at The Area of Europe in this theme park.

Alcazar Castle in Spain.

In The Area of Africa, we saw this.

Niagara Falls, at The Area of America.

Is this place looks like Grand Canyon of Colorado? Well, this is the "extreme-scaled-down" version.

There are more than 80 different sculptures replicas of the attractions or iconic buildings around the world. We can't name them one by one.

We took more than 2 hours to walk around the theme park. Many of the replicas looked good and real, while some of them were not. Sign of lack of maintenance was obvious in some of the area of the park as well. Overall, the theme park made us felt like we were in a small world, with all the building, structures and sceneries around us were small. It is a place that worth a visit.

Shenzhen and Hong Kong shared a same weather during our visit. Hot, humid, and rain for a short while either in the morning, or in the afternoon. The rain could not help much in cooling down. We sweat thorough the whole trip (however, not so bad if compared to our trip to Hong Kong Disneyland). So, our advice, bring enough drinks, extra clothes if you are the type that sweat easily, and comfortable footwear. The park didn't prepare many shelters and one might get soaked in case of raining. So, bringing an umbrella might help to keep a happy journey. By the way, we found that the food offered in the park had very limited choice. A pack of snack or sandwich from outside might help to satisfy our empty stomach. We found that the eatery on the left to before the entrance served good soy milk with you tiao, sold with reasonable price.

We found some information at the official website of Window of the World. However, the information provided by Chinahighlight is more useful.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Macau One Day Trip

Macau is a historical city. Being under the influence of Portuguese for more than four and a half centuries, many buildings were built with strong influence of western designs and architectures. Macau and Malacca have two things in common, firstly, both occupied by Portuguese before, and secondly, the historical sites are landmarked by churches and forts.

We spent a day in Macau, visiting many of UNESCO Heritage Sites, starting from Senado Square to Ruins of St. Paul. We travelled from Hong Kong Kowloon Sea Terminal to Macau early in the morning (our full itinerary for our 7 days 6 nights trip is available here) and returned to Hong Kong late in the afternoon. One day trip might not enough for us to understand the living and culture in Macau, but the trip was really a wonderful experience for us.

Starting from Kowloon China Ferry Terminal, we took around 1 hour to reach Macau by Turbojet ferry. We found that the terminal in Kowloon was "well-hidden" at the first floor of the shopping mall in Gateway Towers. On the other hand, Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal at Macau stood as an isolated building and it was easy to locate. The ferry had offered us a very comfortable aircraft-cabin experience. We found the information about Turbojet ferry from its official website. The ferry departed every 30 minutes, and we were required to get the immigration clearance 20 minutes before the departure. Travel from Hong Kong to Macau was really convenient.

Ticket for the Turbojet can be bought from the counter at the first level of the shopping mall (upper left). We can pay in cash or credit card. Far at the opposite side of the counter is the ticket checkpoint. The immigration checkpoint is located behind these checkpoints (upper right). The departure hall is very big, clean, and all the information of the departing ferries are clearly displayed (lower left). We were lucky to get the comfortable window seats on our way to Macau. Our parents were reading the magazine and leaflet available in the ferry.

With the television showing the entertainment, shopping, and tour information, we could get more information about Macau.

The ferry terminal at Macau is big with many visitors (upper left). Visitor Information Centre is the place where we got our new map, bus and transit information, and the tour packages available in Macau (upper right). We decided to move around by ourselves, using the bus service (lower left). The bus service in Macau is very reliable and comfortable. Anyway, we need to prepare  the exact amount of bus fare, or will get stuck at the auto payment machine after the entrance.

We reached Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro (locals refer it as New Road, 新马路) around 12:30 pm. Heavy downpour had blessed us with a long lunch time and cooling temperature in the afternoon.Then, we started our walk through the heritage trail, which we wish to share with our photos.

These photos were taken along New Road. Photo at the upper left shows the street where we had our lunch. Photo at the lower left shows the location where we went down from the bus.

We started our heritage walk starting from the Senado Square. The square has a small fountain at the middle of it, surrounded by the heritage buildings, such as Holy House of Mercy (upper left, behind the fountain), the post office (upper right), and Leal Senado Building (not shown).  The shopping area is just beside of these buildings (lower left). The direction for other heritage buildings are clearly stated at the square.

Our parents in front of the Leal Senado Building at Senado Square. The building was built in 1784 and serves as the municipal chamber to the present.

 Holy House of Mercy at Senado Square was built in 1569 by the first Bishop of Macau.

Our photo at Senado Square. As we can see through this photo, there are many visitors at the square.

The shopping area of Senado Square from St. Dominic Church.

St. Dominic Church (玫瑰堂) is located 50 meters north from Senado Square. It was built between 1590 - 1610, and remains functional until today. According to wikipedia, it is the place where the first mandarin newspaper was published. There is a museum at the far right side of the church (can be accessed without entering the church), showing the sacred items which were recovered from the church. We saw the statue of St. Francis Xavier in the museum (lower left). The statue is similar to what we saw in St. Paul Hill, Malacca.

The sanctuary of the St. Dominic Church.

We turned into Rua de St. Paul (St. Paul Street, 大三巴街) and headed north to go to Ruins of St. Paul Church and Monte Forte. We were greeted by mass visitors there on that hundred meter long street (upper row). We needed to squeeze and breakthrough the line to move forward. The journey worth all the effort. Finally, we saw the Ruins appears at the end of the street (upper right). We stood at the UNESCO Heritage signage and took two photos, one towards the Ruins to the front (lower right), another, towards the street behind us (lower left).

Our photo at Ruins of St. Paul Church.

The Ruins from the front.

Close up of the Ruins.

From the back, we can see the metal scaffold that had been built to reinforce the structure of the fragile ruins. The project was undertaken by UNESCO.

If we are facing Ruins of St. Paul Church, Monte Forte is on the right side of the Ruins. We visited the hill, with our fitness tested by the awaiting stairs (left). We saw the metal plate "Alto! Sentido!" on the entrance of the fort (upper right). What is the meaning of Alto Sentido? From google translate, we guess it means "High sense". The maintenance office and toilet is just beside the entrance (middle), while we had to climb few more stairs to reach the top part of the fort.

Cannons on Monte Forte.

The fort is high above the ground, which could easily put a rain of cannon balls on the enemy. This strong fort had held the ground from the intruders for hundreds of years (of course, some said that the builder of the fort- Portuguese was the intruder). The view on this hill is spectacular! Take a look on our panoramic photos taken from this hill, as shown below.

Panoramic view to the southern part of Macau from Monte Forte.

Panoramic view to the northern part of Macau from the same area.

The heritage site is a must visit place in Macau. The site gave us a strong feeling like we were in Malacca. We found that one of the road at Macau is Malacca Road.

We tried some of the food in Macau, which some of them were strongly recommended by our friends, e.g. the Portuguese tart and pork burger, and some other local delicacies. Portuguese tart is the one that we would like to recommend to all of you. The tarts taste really good. We bought these tarts from New Road, just beside the bus station. About the pork burger, we tried one at St. Paul Street when we were on our way back from the Ruins. Our comment is... forget about it.

If you wish to take a one day trip to Macau from Hong Kong, we would like to recommend the Turbojet ferry from either Kowloon or from Central ferry terminal. Central ferry terminal is located inside Shun Tat Center. Shun Tat Center can be accessed with MTR, which Sheung Wan MTR Station is located at the underground level of the building. The bus service in Macau is really convenient. We can literally go to any place using the service. We can get the information about the bus service from the tourism information center at the ferry terminal.

Most of the heritage sites are within walking distance from each others. Do expect massive visitors in the afternoon, which makes the place very crowdy. As advised by the authority, we have to beware of the pocket pickers, as they could be very professional and organized. Bring an umbrella, comfortable footwear, and extra clothes (if you are the type that sweat easily). Drinking water and snacks can be bought with reasonable price around the heritage area. By the way, the forex was 100 Macau Pataca to 49 Malaysia Ringgit (USD 15.80).

As a part of our Hong Kong trip, we personally like Macau more than Hong Kong and Shenzhen. Well, if you wish to know more about our experience in Hong Kong, please visit our posts on Hong Kong. We will write about Shenzhen in this few days. Stay tune. :)