30 August 2011

Hong Kong Trip 2005

My daughter was 7 when we visited Disneyland in Hong Kong. If my memory serves me right, Disneyland opened few weeks earlier. It was our 7th birthday gift to her albeit very late. We wanted her to experience the happiest place on earth - Disneyland. Also, it was our first time to set foot in the place where I never knew I would visit one day. Although I aimed to visit Disneyland in Anaheim when I was just a kid, I am just as happy to be able to see Disneyland, the Asian version of course.

We flew in via Cathay Pacific using our ZED fare tickets. That means our tickets were not priority and we would be able to get seats if the flight was wide open. We thought November shouldn't be a problem and thank goodness we were given seats right away.

The flight was around 7 hours long but by then, we were all used to the long-haul flights. Also, my daugther loves traveling so we never had issues of her throwing tantrums during long-haul flights. And this would be one of her many long-haul flights later on.

We arrived in Hong Kong in the afternoon, around 3 p.m maybe. The immigration line was not too long so we just breezed through it. We collected our bags from the carousel and bought airport express train tickets to take us from the airport to the Kowloon side where we booked our hotel. The train express had only 2 stops then. I am not sure now since I haven't visited Hong Kong yet after 2005. The first stop was in Hong Kong side and the last one was in Kowloon. Back then, I didn't know that we could take a free shuttle ride from the train station to our hotel. So, we took a cab and was surprised to know that the hotel was just 2 blocks away which the taxi driver missed to inform us. The train ride was barely half an hour ride and the taxi drive was mere 5 minutes from the train station.

I booked our hotel in Mongkok/Yau Ma Tei area because it was cheaper than to stay nearer the Disneyland area. Besides, we want to visit nearby places on our own so we could save money. The Dorset Seaview in Mongkok is only a 3-star property. Here's a tip, you don't need a lavish hotel accommodation when you intend to go around town on tours. Save your money and just stay in a reasonably-priced hotel like a 3-star property.

The hotel was small for the 3 of us. I won't recommend it to families who are traveling more than 3 in a group. The place was clean though and have basic amenities which I think would be enough. It was very near the night market in Temple Street. A 7-11 was also nearby and other fastfood chains and small groceries. Behind the hotel were local eateries too.

Day 1 was the whole afternoon and evening after we arrived. We went to see the light show in the harbor. Then we went back to Tsim Tsa Tsui to check on the boutiques and bought some nice souvenirs from the nearby small shops.

Day 2 in Hong Kong was spent in Disneyland for the whole day. We missed the fireworks because my daughter was already tired so we left before the Disney train shuttling back to Sunny Bay got crowded. We had a nice dinner in one of the American restaurant along Tsim Tsa Tsui and headed back to our hotel for a good night cap.

Day 3 was our last day there. The night before we left, we went to the Peak and Galleria. Madame Tussaud was not yet opened when we visited and there were some renovations going on in the Peak. We strolled around and went home.

Here are some snaps of out trip to Hong Kong. Enjoy your viewing!

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29 August 2011

See Hong Kong in Few Days

Bye Disney

Hong Kong is not a very big place that you will need to stay for a week. I say, 2 nights and 3 days is enough to cover most of the tourist attractions there. However, if you are considering a side-trip to Macau or the Mainland China, then 4 nights and 5 days is the ideal.

Most of the tourist attractions in Hong Kong can be visited in a day excluding a full day trip to Disneyland. When we visited Hong Kong, we devoted one full day in Disney because of my daughter.  Since it was my second time to go there, we didn't bother enlisting with any of the local land tour agents. We did most of the sightseeing on our own and just took the train station going around town.

If you're the adventurous type and don't mind walking around or taking public transports, then here is a list of tourist attractions to see in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Island
Ocean Park
Hong Kong Park
Jumbo Floating Restaurant
Repulse Bay
The Peak
Victoria Harbour
Madame Tussauds
Happy Valley Racecourse
Stanley Market and Murray House
Western Market
Hollywood Road, Man Mo Temple
Asiaworld Expo
Sky City
Tai O Fishing Village
Giant Buddha/ Po Lin Monastery
Ngong Ping 360

Ladies Market
Kowloon Walled City Park
Temple Street Night Market
Yuen Po Street Market
Avenue of Stars
Symphony of Lights
Jade Market and Jade Street
ICC - Sky100 Indoor Observation
Clock Tower near the Star Ferry concourse
1881 Heritage
Sik Sik Yuen Wong Temple
Cheung Sha Wan Road Fashion Street and Apliu Street
Lei Yue Mun Seafood Bazaar
Dialogue in the Dark (Fun activities to do in the dark...use your "creative" imagination people!)

New Territories
Ping Shan Heritage Trail
Tsing Ma Bridge
Mai Po Wetlands
Ma Wan Park Noah's Ark
Sha Tin Racecourse
Hong Kong Wetland Park

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27 August 2011

Beat Jet Lag

I love traveling. That is an understatement. I love long-haul flights despite the criticism I hear from frequent flyers. What I do not like about traveling across the Atlantic or on the other side of the globe is the time difference and the jet lag that comes with it.

The first time I traveled long-haul (more than 7 hours flight is considered long-haul or approximately 7,500 kms flown in distance and carried out by wide-bodied commercial aircraft) was the DXB-LAX-DXB. It was a non-stop flight around 14 hours long. The jet lag did not kick in because my excitement got the better of me. I was more excited than tired and sleepy. I felt it few days later and this is where the tips to beat the jet lag come in.
  • 1. Find an airline which leaves your exit point early in the morning so your body is in tune with the normal timing. 
  • 2. Avoid taking energy drink or stimulants like coffee and tea before your departure.
  • 3. A night before the flight, sleep earlier than usual. This will help your body's circadian rhythm to adjust and resynchronize.
  • 4. Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated because being dehydrated can pose a lot of health problems.
  • 5. Fill you iPod or mp player with nice, soothing sounds to relax your mind and encourage sleep.
  • 6. If you reach your destination in the morning (traveling East to West will make you lose time than the other way around), don't nap right away. Go out and about. Enjoy the scenery, walk, go on tours but avoid drinking alcohol. Have a protein-carbohydrates meal as soon as you can because filling your body with protein can up your energy level. This should be done when you do arrive in the morning or at least before lunch.
  • 7. If you reach your destination in the evening, follow that place's time. Sleep if it's sleeping time. Draw the curtains shut, have a warm soak and switch the lights off. Times like this, I always bring my lavender pillow mist. It soothes my mind and makes me fall asleep.
  • 8. Avoid filling your stomach before and during the flight. Take a small portioned meal.
  • 9. Read books during the flight so you won't be tempted to fall asleep right away. Try as much as possible to follow the time pattern of your destination.

Happy traveling! Don't let the jet lag bug bite :)

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24 August 2011

My First Travel

The first time I traveled out of the city was in August 1976. I was just five years old then. It was one-day boat ride from Manila to Surigao City with my dad. I don't have a vivid recollection of the boat voyage because I don't like boat rides. I am not a fan of that. So that memory kind of skipped me.

We attended the town fiesta. It was fun! I remember meeting my dad's relatives and my cousins. I ran around the plaza, climbed the staged every chance I got and danced with the locals during the town's fiesta party.

That vacation paved way to more happy travels later in my life.

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22 August 2011

Why It's Good to Travel during Recession

I once posted an article in my It's My Party blog about taking advantage of the weak dollar. That was more than 3 years ago, even before the onset of the great recession we are all experiencing now. Although some countries' economy picked up a notch, the US and Europe are still in a downhill with their battle to save their currency's value.

For those who have saved enough for the rainy season, you may wonder why I am telling you that this is the right time to use part of your saving. Most countries who are trying to encourage money flow inward will do everything to attract people. And one of the leading industry to mobilize this plan is the travel industry.

Plenty of tour agents and airlines will cut down their fees to accommodate the stingiest of travelers to bring in the money. There are fierce competition on vacation tour packages and airline fares so, whoever has the cheapest price will get most of the customers.

I am not telling you to squander all the savings you have but do consider taking that old dream of seeing other countries aside from yours. Pick a country where you don't require visa if you want to save money because applying for a visa is another major process you have to consider when making a budget for an international trip.

Scour the internet for great deals of budget accommodation. You may even treat yourself  to a fancy accommodation because some 5-stars hotels are offering value for your money if you stay more nights. They will even throw one night or several nights for free!

Try to go on a group tour. This incentive always get the nice and affordable fares from airlines to hotels to land tour arrangements. So, ask your family or friends to join you in this expedition to explore the world.

If you have relatives in other countries, now is the time to reconnect! Ask if you can bunk in their place for few days. That will save you a chunk of money on accommodation. The money you can save can be used for land tours, cruises and other tour-add ons.

If you don't have that much money to spare for travel but would still like to take advantage of the low fares and price-cuts in accommodations, then go to South East Asia where everything is affordable, from hotels to airfare to land tours to cruises to food and shopping.

Well, I am not trying to convince you to withdraw your money just yet. Do consider this time to fulfill your much awaited dream. You don't have to spend a fortune. You can even go to the US and Europe in a budget as long as you check the airfare, hotels and tours and add them all up.

I hope you travel this season and make the most of the weak currencies around the world.

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20 August 2011

Why I Love To Travel

Ever since I was a child, it has always been my dream to see the world. My mom bought me plenty of encyclopedias and coffee table books about places to see with beautiful panoramas inside. It became my interest and dream to see the famous places in those books when I grow up.

I enjoy soaking up new culture and seeing new places. I love learning few foreign phrases to make the travel experience more in-depth. I like taking pictures of the famous places I have listed when I was a kid and savor each moment in every country I have been to.

I can't say I am a jet-setter yet but I do travel regularly with my family. I just love going through the process of securing travel visas, scouring the internet for budget accommodations, checking out places of interest in the country my family and I will visit, flying, posing for pictures, talking to the locals, eating out and trying their native dishes and buying souvenirs. On top of that, I think no amount of money can equal the kind of learning experience you get when you travel.

I didn't know I would work in one of the most prestigious airline companies in the world. I have been blessed with that fact because now, I can fulfill my dreams to see the world, one country at a time.

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19 August 2011

Welcome to The Travel Bug Blog

Welcome people! This is my travel blog. I will talk about travel, places to visit, great and affordable accommodations, local favorites, tips for travellers and new finds I will discover during my travels.

I will try to fill you in with anything I know about traveling and hope to share the experience I have by seeing the world.

Enjoy your stay and see the beauty of the world around you.

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