Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Hong Kong Day 2 and My Frustrations With Organized Travel Packages

My family rarely travels, and when we do, it is usually to visit my mother or father's provinces and we don't do any touristy activity or sightseeing. That's why it was such a thrill when my dad let us on a four-day getaway to Hong Kong last 2010 as a graduation gift. Finally, I can say that we will be able to travel leisurely as a family. There's no better gift than the gift of travel after all.

hong kong family travel
Happy Family overlooking the modern cityscape of Hong Kong

Still feeling the rush over our first day at Hong Kong, each of us woke up feeling vitalized and hyped up to see more of the city. It was our first time abroad so my parents opted to join an organized tour because we were still clueless how we could make the trip possible by ourselves. We arrived too early for our call time so we goofed around with these Korean monks who happened to pass by the entrance of the hotel. Haha. I couldn't really remember why I was a part of this picture. So jeje of me.

noob traveler
First time ever to see monks, and why not commemorate this with a picture with them. lol #noobtraveler

Avenue of Stars
We had a few places up on our agenda for the day and first on that list was Avenue of Stars. The 440-meter long promenade is modeled after the Avenue of Stars in Hollywood and features a look at Hong Kong's movie entertainment history. There were also hand print and autograph of famous Chinese and Hong Kongnese celebrities and I was only able to recognize a few. I need some time to catch up watching Asian movies. I'd say the highlight of this tourist spot is the awesome view of skyline across Victoria Harbor.

avenue of stars

avenue of stars hong kong

hong kong
would have been nice to see if not for the thick fog
hong kong travel

And another bummer of the day was a lengthy visit to a jewelry factory. I guess it wasn't enough that you pay a hefty price for the tour package, they will still "force" you to go to this place and hope you will buy something. One word, commission! Another quick ride and we were off to Aberdeen Fishing Village. This small quaint village showcases some of Hong Kong's vintage looking sampans. I remember not being able to explore the rest of the place as our guide was chatting about how "relaxing" the boat tour is and insisted that we try it. No one from our group took the bait fortunately.

hong kong packaged tours
Another jeje picture. OMG. Can't believe what I was thinking in my teens!
hong kong
Aberdeen Fishing Village
apollo ice cream
I can still remember how addicted I was to this ice cream, I bought one of this every meal. The brand is Apollo btw.

And after all that mumbo-jumbo, we finally reached the place everybody was waiting to see. *drum roll please* HONG KONG DISNEYLAND! But because of all the "forced" tours we arrived at Disneyland already 30 minutes past 3 in the afternoon! Now tell me, how can one enjoy this magical place for only a couple of hours??? This is probably why I was so hot-headed that morning with all those redundant tours included for the purpose of ripping us off.

We still made it to their afternoon parade but I was so excited to record the whole thing I didn't notice my camera's battery is almost drained out. And then whoooosh, dead. I was only able to take very few pictures so even though I want to do A-Noob's-Guide-to-Disneyland type of post I couldn't really do it with just these to show, right. And we only spent a few hours there anyway which was really pathetic. :( Note to self, make sure to spend one whole day on any amusement park.

hong kong disneyland
my younger sister couldn't help but to have her picture taken at Disneyland's entrance

As it was a Saturday, the lines to the rides were really crazy. With our very limited time, we were only able to try few rides including Space Mountain. One tip for the first-timers, if you will only spend half of your day here, plan what rides or attractions you will try and go on a day with fewer crowds. And yes, bring extra batteries for your cameras please. We went there 5 years ago and I am still hoping I could give HK Disneyland another chance.

hong kong disneyland ticket
One of my few remembrance of our visit to HK Disneyland

I was really amazed with the views I saw earlier that day that I forced myself to still travel to Tsim Sha Tsui even I was already dead tired. My goal was to hopefully see the Symphony of Lights show even though I had no idea what time it happens. I made my way to TST and I just roamed around and took some pictures. Hong Kong's nightscape looks so romantic and modern! I wonder if there was any viewpoint aside from Victoria's Peak wherein you could still see this view while drinking cheap cold beer.

hong kong architecture

hong kong skyline

With organized packaged tours, you don't really have a say with how your itinerary goes. It's already all set and planned for you. You need to leave at a dictated time even though you might want to stay longer and you need to visit tourist spots that you wouldn't really enjoy. And of course, let's not forget about the hidden charges and the guide fees. Some people prefer to travel this style but after our trip to Hong Kong I found out it was more fun and satisfying to have DIY trips. I guess to each his own, huh.

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