Discovering Lantau Island and Victoria Peak

goodbye muna, work
The last time I visited Hong Kong, I was still in high school, which was about eight years ago. It was a tour package so we really had no control over our time. I did enjoy it for the fact that I’d been to Disneyland and Ocean Park.
Ate Naji and I booked piso-fare flights to Hong Kong via Cebu Pacific, November of last year. We really wanted to maximize our time so we didn’t opt for tour packages. Planning our itinerary for five days, we scheduled trips to famous tourist spots in Hong Kong and some free time in between.
 
Aug 27, 2015 – Thursday
goodbye muna, work
We arrived at HKIA by 7:40am. Our accommodation was in Ladies Market, Mongkok so we had to ride the A21 bus. When the bus arrived, they didn’t accept cash (which we were not aware of) so Ate Naji and I had to run back to purchase bus tickets for $33. We also didn’t know that we could purchase Octopus cards inside HKIA.
A21 bus to Mongkok
A21 bus to Mongkok

We got off at Bank Centre Station to meet AC, our host for the accommodation. I found her unit through Airbnb and instantly fell in love with the place. Also, the room was cheap for a family of seven. It had a sofa bed in the living room(see picture) and 3 bedrooms that fitted 2 persons each.

sofa bed by the living room, image via Airbnb
bedroom with AC unit, image via Airbnb

The unit looked small but it really was just enough for a family of seven. We were always out anyway and staying in a big, cozy, hotel room would only be a waste. Plus, the beds and pillows were so soft and comfy that even after a day of strolling around, we managed to have a good sleep. Click here for the Airbnb listing.

We were very fortunate to be able to stay in one of the liveliest districts in Hong Kong that is Mongkok. We were situated just above Ladies market! Think Divisoria! (Also, they didn’t call it Ladies Market for nothing which I found out from a friend when I came back to the Philippines.)

It was already a little past lunch time when we’re finally settled in so we asked our host, AC, where we could have a cheap, good Chinese lunch for our first meal. She recommended London Restaurant(this was Chinese, I swear) just along Nathan Road. The menu was written in Chinese and we really didn’t understand any of it. Plus, the waitress did not speak English but we could tell that she was nice. We only relied on the pictures so we pointed to lots of dim sum!

Our first destination was at Ngong Ping 360. To get there, we got inside Mongkok Station and bought Octopus cards first. This card was very convenient because it offered discounted fares and could also be used in buses. We were also able to use it when purchasing from selected establishments like 7-11. Initially, the card costed $150 which had $100 as credit and $50 as deposit. Don’t worry, it’s refundable.

Ate Naji, holding her octopus card. Image by Naji
Ate Naji, holding her octopus card. Image by Naji

The fare was $16.50. (To know the fares to and from different stations, click here.) We got off at Tung Chung Station and walked toward Ngong Ping 360.

Ngong Ping 360

Ngong Ping 360 is one of Hong Kong’s famous attractions, which included a cable car ride to the themed village. We rode the standard cabin which costed $165 per head, roundtrip.

a standard cabin | didn't look scary at first
a standard cabin | didn’t look scary at first
a picture with Jeran who rarely smiled
a picture with Jeran who rarely smiled
cabins coming from the first checkpoint
cabins coming from the first checkpoint

Ngong Ping Village is a culturally-themed site designed to showcase the culture of the whole Ngong Ping area. Since Hong Kong is modernizing fast, you won’t see many traditional infrastructures like the ones in this village. This should be on everyone’s itinerary when in Hong Kong!

Ngong Ping Village
Ngong Ping Village
Pavement that leads to the Big Buddha
Pavement that leads to the Big Buddha
Ate Rayji as Donnie Yen
Ate Rayji as Donnie Yen
Tian Tan Buddha
Tian Tan Buddha
a closer view under the sun
a closer view under the sun

Reaching the top on a sunny day was not easy. That’s why we rewarded ourselves with ice cream ($12) as we rested by the shade around the temple. It was also summer in Hong Kong, very hot! Good thing we were given fans upon purchasing cable car tickets. At the top, we could see the panoramic view of the mountains and the whole village, very niiiice.Tian Tan Buddha is the bronze, seated Buddha which represents Sakyamuni, who meditated under the Bodhi tree and attained awakening to true reality. Surrounding it were six other statues that posed offering necessary for enlightenment.

Jeran & Ate Naji
Jeran & Ate Naji
time to go down 268 steps
time to go down 268 steps
Me and Nanay

We didn’t have much time to explore the whole village because we also planned to visit the Victoria Peak by evening. Also, the queue to the cable car might build up since it was already 4pm and we wouldn’t risk it.

Tired from walking and sleepy from the early flight, we rode the train once again to our next destination: The Peak Tram.

knocked out sibs inside the train | L-R: Ate Rayji, Jeran, Ate Naji, me
knocked out sibs inside the train | L-R: Ate Rayji, Jeran, Ate Naji, me
2007 vs 2015

We’re excited to get off Central Station to recreate an old photo we took when we first visited Hong Kong!

The Peak Tram and Victoria Peak

The peak tram!
The peak tram!

From central station, we walked to the Peak Tram. It started raining and we didn’t have umbrellas with us while we waited in line outside of the station. Good thing we pursued because the rain eventually stopped when we’re already soaked. I think we waited, standing, for almost an hour because of the loooong queue. I hate queues!

Waiting for the train to arrive and save us
Waiting for the train to arrive and save us

One of the oldest funicular railways, the tram carries both the tourists and locals to the upper levels of Hong Kong. When the train arrived for our batch, we rushed in to save ourselves seats. I didn’t know back then that it would go steeply upward and was in for so much surprise when it started going. The buildings seemed to lean sideways to 30 degrees! Totally worth the long wait!

From the first station, we traveled upward onto the next. We saw the huge airport, the highways we traversed earlier, the skyscrapers from the city, the calm, calm sea, and the other cabins that made me estimate the tension held by the rope that held us all which sort of triggered a panic in me. It took us about twenty-five minutes to reach the Ngong Ping Village but when you’re inside a cabin suspended hundreds of feet above the sea, you’d really lose track of time.Upon reaching the Ngong Ping Village, we already saw the big Buddha which got us excited! After exploring the vicinity, we headed right for the Buddha and found a flight of 268 steps that led to it. It’s okay since we needed to burn all the dim sum we had earlier. haha!

going so fast at approx. 30 degrees!
going so fast at approx. 30 degrees!
We headed to the Sky Terraces upon alighting the tram, excited to see the famous Hong Kong skyline. We got there just in time as the city buildings started to light up one by one! How spectacular the view was, surely a scenic spot not to be missed!
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We we’re very hungry after a day’s adventure so we decided to eat at Hong Kong Day inside Victoria Peak. Their servings were huuuuge! We had crispy noodles, laksa, curry, and beef teriyaki. I think we spent $300 for this dinner.
Laksa for Ate Naji
Laksa for Ate Naji
We got back to Mongkok at 9pm. Slept right away because the next day’s set for Ocean Park! It was just the first day and we’ve done (and spent) so much already! You, guys, must really visit these places to complete your Hong Kong experience. I really encourage you to plan your own trips for the sake of adventures just like ours!


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