6D5N Hong Kong AGAIN! Spring 2014

Hong Kong wasn’t in my list for this year’s vacation plan but life is dynamic and things change all the time. As a result, i hastily decided on this super random trip!

Well, I was tempted to accompany my friend for her business trip (to get free accommodation for 2 nights) and to visit my friends in HK. If I didn’t recall wrongly, the decision to fly was less than a month away and the tickets were only bought two weeks prior to departure. Why the delay in air tickets purchase? I had TOO MANY choices and options :/

Air Ticket Dilemma 

There were too many airline options which flies from Singapore to Hong Kong

  1. Singapore Airlines Promo – Tickets from $340 (timings were not exactly ideal but I could take the A380)
  2. Cathay Pacific Promo – Tickets from $288 (timings couldn’t fit the itinerary my friend had. somewhere somehow i had to sacrifice something )
  3. SCOOT – Departing flight is good: fly at 1:50am reach at 5+. Return flight is crap: need to reach airport at 4am?!
  4. TigerAir – 3 flight timings per day (all seems well) and the return flight fits perfectly with my friend’s SIA timing at 18:50

Conclusion: Fly by Scoot + Return by TigerAir @ 18:45 flight.
Damage: $51 +$50 scoot voucher which i won (booked during morning glory tuesday promo at $28+taxes) + $109 (648HKD one way promo from HK to SG) = $160 + $50 voucher (no baggage allowance)

The price I paid was cheaper than the $260 i paid 15 months ago! I guess inflation doesn’t affect the Low Cost Carrier aviation industry. The only reason I’m going to HK in the near future is that I am paying less than $210 for my air tickets =p

During the decision-making process, I was so tempted to fly by cathay/SIA as it wasn’t too much of a price premium but I decided that better timings were more important. Furthermore, I had to use up my scoot voucher ASAP or I would be tempted into another vacation before its expiry.

Flight experience: Being at Changi airport at unearthly hour was nothing new to me. Thankfully, Bengawan Solo at terminal 2 only closed at 1am. I was still able to grab the cakes for my HK friends. There was nothing much to do but I managed to find comfort in the chairs in front of the big screen screening EPL matches.

  

From experience, I have conditioned myself to not be on time during boarding. This saves me the bother of staring at people boarding as front row people are always the last  to board. Thus, my latest (bad) habit is to be one of the last few to enter the plane. This is a tip that all airport ground staff and aircrew members hate the most. Thus, whenever possible, please be at your boarding gate as early as possible, queue up orderly for the security bag scan and sit obediently and wait for your boarding.
FYI: Kim Soo Hyun’s face is all over at the airport right now for his Samsonite CF.
Right picture: My 2 piece carry on baggage (1 backpack + 1 duffel bag) + pandan cakes

What a surprise I had when I saw the plane! I was taking the same Scoot aircraft (to Seoul) name “Barry”. Yes, Scoot do name their aircraft and I love that idea. Scoot’s plane was the usual 777 with its 3-4-3 seat formation. As usual, I asked for a front seat and ended up getting stick in the middle seat of the middle section. Thankfully, the other middle seat was empty and I could use the space to stretch my legs.

The two things which I thought I wouldn’t need in gloomy Hong Kong – Sunglasses and Cap – became really useful in the plane. No, it was not for the purpose of pretending that I was some big shot. It was extremely useful in dimming the cabin light to your eyes!

I didn’t have a good sleep in the flight. I did sleep but I kept waking up thinking that n hours have passed and it was about to land soon. Halfway through the flight, I remembered that the most important task I had was to change my sim card to the 100free HK Data Sim which I had bought from an online re-seller. Paid S$16 + 1 (postage) for the card which was cut into nano-size for me. 100free had $100 HKD credit which allows me to subscribe for the $78 7-day unlimited data plan which was all that I needed for this trip.

* The reason why I bought the card prior to HK was because ready cut nano-sim cards were not readily available in HK. Also, I had to contact my friend the moment I land as I need to find my way to her hotel room before she escapes for the day. With that being said, you can actually just purchase your data sim in HK directly. If you’re using micro or normal sim, you can buy these cards easily at 7-11 or PCCW outlets. Nano-sims are a little more tricky as fewer outlets carry them. Anyway, there’s this $69 HKD tourist sim card  which seems really decent for 5-day usage. Do NOT even consider the $15/day unlimited data by Singtel. It would be a total rip-off ! *

Before the plane was about to land, the pilot made an announcement saying that landing will be delayed by 10-15 minutes due to the bad thunderstorm at Hong Kong Airport. Was that announcement really necessary? It scared me even more during the terrible turbulence on landing. The turbulence was so strong that it actually gives a “heart-drop” feeling, as if you were on a roller coaster ride. I almost had to grab the arm of the stranger next to me to squeeze :/ (troubles of traveling alone) The turbulence had been the worse I had in my life.. or rather my fear factor decreases as I grow older..

Transport Out of  Hong Kong International Airport 

  1. Airport Express– 100 HKD/one way or 180 HKD/return
  2. Airport Bus – 40 HKD to Admiralty (Hong Kong Island)
  3. Taxi – approx 330 HKD to Wan Chai (Hong Kong Island)

Right at the exit of the arrival hall, there are MTR counters (above) where you can purchase your Octopus Card (Transportation Card) which is essential if you take public transport in Hong Kong. It costs $150 (inclusive of $50 refundable deposit for the card). If there’s a long queue at the counter, you can walk left/right to look for other counters.

Conclusion: The rain was a huge temptation for me to choose Airport Express as there would be an airport shuttle which brings you right to the doorstep of the hotel. As usual, cost saving wins over everything else and I ended up taking the Airport Bus, A11 to Admiralty MTR. From the bus stop, there were sheltered walkways to the Pacific Place Shopping mall which brings you to the hotel. It was approximately a 10-minute walk only achievable ideally without heavy luggage.

Tip: If you’re traveling in a group of 4, with luggage, just take taxi.

Follow the signs and it should lead you to this bus terminal which is down this long ramp.

Bus services start as early as 6am  so you don’t have to worry if you’re taking Scoot.

Wait by the correct berth for your bus. Nothing should go wrong here.. Once you enter the bus, do remember to tap on the machine when you board. You do not have to tap when you alight unless there are chances of getting a transfer rebate (rare).

Traveling by bus gives you the opportunity of seeing Hong Kong at the start of your journey. It was a very scenic ride for me as the skies were clearing up after the rain.

These are pictures that you can only take when you’re sitting on the first row of a double-decked bus 😉

The ride was very smooth and the traffic was good. I guess no one travels out so early in the morning. It was between 6:30 to 7:30am when I was in the bus.

Accommodation

(1) Luxurious Hotel – not worth mentioning cause one night is more than the price of my air ticket + 3N accommodation at accommodation (2) below.

This is the beautiful view from

(1) Luxurious Hotel:

(2) My Criteria: Cheap(er) than hotels + in HK island + near to MTR/Tram station + Private Room & Toilet

With my long list of requirements, I found the perfect place to go – my new best friend: www.airbnb.com

After surveying through the prices + very late notice (2 weeks prior to trip), we didn’t exactly have much choices left and we settled for Ronny’s house at Wan Chai.

It wasn’t a pleasant experience to begin with. We booked for a room with balcony + sofa + bigger area but he dropped us a message few days before the trip, informing us that he has relocated us to the smaller room without balcony and sofa. Of course, we were displeased and unhappy but he said “please help as the sofa would be better as the guest is an elderly with back pain.” Right, we were not even given an option to say no. The proper way that he should have done was to ask us for permission to change the room because of so and so and not informing us of the downgrading of our room, leaving us with no opinion at all.

That’s not the end of our problems. On the first night, there was a strong cigarette smell in our room and the smell came from the room which we were sacrificed for – the one with the balcony & sofa. Then, I made a complain via airbnb message and the smell was slightly better for the remaining nights, or rather we just got home later and later. Also, the towel they provided was quite small and non-absorbent (ikea towel) and it wasn’t replaced throughout our stay. There was a washing machine in the “apartment” but we never had time to use it as we were only in the rooms <6 hours per day.

The only benefit I got out of it was to request for early check in (10am) + late check out (3pm). This request could be made as there wasn’t anyone staying in the room on the night before and after me. Well, apart from all the problems that I have mentioned, the location was good (walking distance to Joy Heng Roasted Meat, Capitol Cafe, Tai Chung Bakery Express, Wan Chai MTR, Causeway Bay MTR (10 to 15 mins)). The bed was slightly smaller than queen size but a lot better and more comfortable than the one I had at Yesinn hostel. I had quite good sleep for all 3 nights. There was enough floor & table space for 2 of us to open our bags at the same time (some HK places cannot achieve that). Also, there were free drinks in the fridge and he also provided 2 bottles of cheap wine which didn’t taste good at all :/ but oh wells, it is the thought that counts.

The apartment was on level 3 of Jade House, which is also home to a tuition agency and an office and another residential apartment. Having only 5 units per floor in a building is quite a safe number in Hong Kong. Recalling my Yesinn Fortress Hill experience, there were like 20+ apartments per floor with only 2 lifts (1 odd, 1 even serving). With such a large number of unites per floor, it becomes very dangerous when evacuating people, especially when there is a fire..

Throughout our stay, we did not have to meet Ronny at all. The getting of (high-tech)keys was done through a number-lock mailbox and check out was just leaving everything in the room and walking out.

To summarise:

(1) Travel Low Cost Carrier to Save Money
(2) Take the airport bus out of the airport
(3) Buy a data SIM card to use in Hong Kong

HAVING A DATA SIM CARD OVERSEAS CAN TOTALLY CHANGE YOUR WAY OF TRAVELING

  1. No longer reliant on pen & paper directions which is at high risk of smudging (a very frequent problem for me)
  2. Be able to get spontaneous web research for food, shopping and attractions, especially for their opening hours.
  3. Google Maps is the most useful (not the best) direction app. It allowed me to take many bus trips which save on walking distance and cost. It even provides a somewhat accurate bus arrival timing!
  4. Openrice HK (website & app) is extremely useful in discovering good/famous food, as recommended by the locals. It allows you to use your location to track the restaurants in your area.
  5. Ability to check-in at 1001 locations and make all your facebook & instagram friends back at home jealous of your holiday
  6. Upload your photos so that you can delete them from your phone and free up more memory space for more photos

To prevent my entries from becoming excessively long, I’ve decided to split up all my entries.

Do Read my other Posts regarding this Hong Kong trip:

(1)  6D5N Hong Kong 2014: Feasting in Hong Kong

(2) 6D5N Hong Kong 2014: Half Day Trip to Cheng Chau

(3) 6D5N Hong Kong 2014: Random Exploration (Stanley Market, Disneyland, Chunking Mansions).

Stay tuned for my entry on Chunking Mansions!

Other posts you may be interested in:

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