The Tummy Train TV, Traveling

{Hong Kong 2013} Part I: Sights and some random observations

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Amidst the recent outcry over the Hong Kong government considering to require visas for Filipino passport holders, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy going to Hong Kong every now and then. It’s the only other country I’ve had the privilege of visiting more than three times, but even though I don’t speak a word of Cantonese it’s not at all difficult to communicate with the locals. I either switch to Mandarin or English and the moment’s confusion of them thinking I’m a local thanks to my Chinese looks is gone.

This year we spent the long Halloween weekend in Hong Kong after so many years, and I decided I would try my hand at making a travel video of the things I witnessed and enjoyed in Hong Kong. Since this is my first, it might be a little shaky, but I love it nonetheless. I hope you all enjoy it as well! 🙂

What I really love about Hong Kong is how alive it always seems to be. Everywhere you look you see people of all ages walking fast, going places. No matter what time of the day, the MTR’s and the streets are always packed with people. I love walking around this city at night because everything is lit up and I actually feel safe (except maybe in Mongkok where the crowd is literally a wave of people that sweeps you off your feet), and the streets are the best place to feel the pulse of the city. It raps and thumps like a beat that demands attention, and you can’t help but go along with it.

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To a lot of people living in Asia, Hong Kong is one of their favourite shopping spots because there are a lot of outlet stores and a lot of things are cheaper. But shopping isn’t all that can be done here. Every time I come to Hong Kong, either some brand new tourist site has been set up in one of their reclaimed lands or they’ve added some new attraction to an old spot.


Victoria Peak

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On our first night here, we decided to visit the highest mountain on Hong Kong Island. You go up via a bright red tram which might be scary (or dizzying) for some because of how slanted it is as it travels up the slope. It was a spectacle to see all the houses seemingly leaning down on either side of the tram windows. Up at the very top floor of the complex at The Peak they have built an open-air observation deck overlooking mostly Central and Victoria Harbour, as well as nearby islands.

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I’m a sucker for cityscape views with bright flashing lights in the night, and no matter how small the view may seem I am bound to find some magic in it.

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But if you ask me what time I would recommend coming up here, I would say late afternoon during the golden hour. I saw a photograph of the same area I photographed above as it was taken during the late afternoon and everything was bathed in beautiful silky gold. It was a more impressive sight for me.


Madame Tussaud’s Hong Kong

Madame Tussaud’s is a new addition to Victoria Peak. The Museum is located inside The Peak complex and is one of only two branches of the iconic wax museum here in Asia. Truth be told, the reason we came up here so late is because the museum offers a discount for their tickets if you avail the 9PM ticket, which is their last time of admission for the day.

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Having never been to any Madame Tussaud’s before, I was kind of skeptical about all the fuss these wax figurines kept causing. As I went inside it actually ended up being both fun and funny thanks to the many wacky photo opportunities one can partake in with the wax figures! I also appreciated the painstaking detail found in each wax figure.

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The first few figures we came across are those of the Hollywood top guns. They all made some really good replicas of Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, and Brangelina.

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Some of the figures had props beside them you can use to create a scene for photographs, like an armchair that will allow you to sit across the president of China for a diplomatic photo op; or a set of drums beside Madonna where you can pretend to be part of her band.

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I absolutely loved the detail on this Lady Gaga figure.

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This Beatles set is one of my favourites from the museum. I loved everything about this, including the couch, up to the lighting!

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Another one of my favourites is this Breakfast At Tiffany’s set-up with Audrey Hepburn. It kind of doesn’t look exactly like her, but there is a sweet wistfulness about how they recreated this scene.

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Oh and seeing this Hugh Jackman figure made me wish he could turn into a real person right then and there. I mean just look at how they captured his expression as Wolverine perfectly, right up to his biceps! Heehee!

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What’s awesome about this particular museum is the inclusion of some of Asia’s biggest and favourite stars. Wax figures for the likes of Jackie Chan, Andy Lau and Jay Chou are present. Bruce Lee has one outside as well. I especially loved the one they made of the ever lovely Michelle Yeoh!

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My favourite wax figure is Donnie Yen’s because of its perfect resemblance to him! Ip Man is one of my favourite Chinese movies of all-time and this man played his character so beautifully he became an icon thanks to that role. His likeness features heavily in the museum as this is also what they use to explain the process of making these wax figures.

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Another of my favourites is this statue of Madame Tussaud herself. I just love the detail on her face, where even the crease on her skin is recreated, down to the hook of her nose and the touch of a smile playing at her lips.

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I really enjoyed the visit here more than I anticipated. One also has to wonder what it’s like being the staff member who switches off the lights here at night…


Ngongping 360

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Ngongping 360 actually refers to the cable car experience riding to Lantau Island, and how thanks to the glass casing of the cabins, a person can enjoy a 360-degree view of Hong Kong around him. Anybody who likes taking the scenic route will love this cable car ride. I’ve ridden several cable cars in different countries but I really enjoyed the view riding this one.

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You can opt to buy a ticket for the Crystal Cabin and you will get to ride in a cable car that has a glass floor. I wouldn’t recommend this for people afraid of heights, but for those who aren’t, this cabin offers a different view right into the lush mountains of Lantau Island. I saw a bunch of people hiking and would love to do the same the next time I visit Hong Kong.

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Once you disembark from the cable cars, it’s very easy to be captured by the calming vibe Ngongping Village gives off. There is a laziness about the village, and even among the mountain dogs that roam about. The island has the most magnificent view, and the wind is crisp and fresh and cool. I loved it!

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Walking along one would come across stalls selling quaint souvenirs. I really liked the watches and these paper wallets and ended up buying a couple to keep for myself.

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Soon enough it was time to pay a visit to the main attraction, which is the Tian Tan Buddha, more commonly called The Big Buddha. It’s on top of a set of stairs with 240 steps so it’s best to distract yourself with looking around, taking photos, and appreciating the sights on the way there!

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The more apt word to describe the Buddha is majestic rather than just big. As it towers over you, it looks as if it is protecting you and blessing you with wisdom and peace for the rest of your days. It’s presence is mighty comforting.

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It might be the cool wind and the bright sun that contributed to the feeling, but this place and The Big Buddha have a way of lifting the spirit.


Some shopping spots

And because I know a lot of people love coming here to shop, I thought I would share some of the places I went to shop during my last visit.

The Citygate Outlets, as the name suggests, is a complex right off Ngongping Station that is chock full of outlet stores that range from high to mid-end brands, from Burberry and Armani, to Nike and Adidas, chances are there is something for everyone in here. And the best part? Because these are factory outlets, some of the prices are craaaazy cheap. My brother bought himself a pair of K-Swiss shoes priced at 70% off the SRP and he was loving it! I’m definitely coming back here next time!

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Of course, if you prefer paying full-price, Hong Kong has a lot of regular malls that have beautifully decorated store-fronts. I mostly walk in malls just to look at the interior design of the shops.

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If you’re a bargain hunter, chances are you will love walking around in Mongkok. You would have to brave the mind-boggling number of people who visit the night market for cheap thrills, but Mongkok is the place to find all the best and cutest novelty items. Not to mention this is a great place for street food!

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And if none of those places spark your interest, you can always walk around Causeway Bay and pick out one of the random malls or stores lined up in the area. The brands in Causeway range from luxury to mainstream, which means this place has Uniqlo‘s and H&M‘s, and this ginormous 4-floor Forever 21 building. I live just round the back of this building and a bunch of other shopping centres, so needless to say I got my shop on pretty easily.

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Whichever place you go, rest assured there will be some sort of shopping complex in the area. Even the department store-esque Sasa can be a girl’s haven for cosmetics! You will never run out of things to buy!

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Well that’s it for the sights of Hong Kong during this installment! You can check out part 2 and part 3 of my chronicles for this trip, which is all about food, food, and more food!

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