Hong Kong & Disneyland
We needed to leave the country so I could get a balikbayan stamp in my passport. More about that fun here: https://expatinphilippines.wordpress.com/2016/03/21/traveling-for-a-balikbayan-stamp
We decided a trip to Hong Kong was in order. Melane wanted to go see Mickey Mouse. The other option was Singapore – for Universal Studios. I had never been to Hong Kong so I was not sure where we wanted to stay. I looked a lot online and the hotels sure ranged from super nice – to real crap ha ha. In the Kowloon district the p2,000 rooms looked like the p300 rooms here (that is not a good thing). China is known for building islands as needed (sometimes not known positively for it, but we will stay out of that fight). I remember reading about Disneyland being built there and how they had to build an island to put it on first. Sounded impressive. Turns out the airport and Disney are both on the same, island.
Well the hotel I found was also on that island. The Auberge at Discovery Bay. It was about p5,000 a night. (almost $100 USD) A bit more than I usually spend for a hotel but this is her first time out of the country, so we decided to splurge a bit. OMG this place was amazing! The pics online looked nice, but do not do it justice. The room is not particularly big, but has a king sized bed, and a twin sleeper/sofa. The bathroom is amazing. After living in the Philippines for a couple years… decent plumbing is appreciated. The hotel grounds were very nice, and service was excellent.
The hotel had a shuttle service to Disneyland, so it was easy to get to. It is her first real amusement park so we will see how it goes. It is much smaller than Anaheim’s Disneyland or Orlando’s Magic Kingdom. Closer to Tokyo Disneyland. Magic Kingdom has like 65 rides, Hong Kong Disney has barely 30. It is a much smaller park, and each section looks like the other parks – in miniature. But for her first park it turned out to be just about right. She was tired and we did not get to finish everything, so a bigger park would have killed her ha ha. Tickets were only $500, what is that about $60 USD. Not bad.
I don’t know why the park was so empty, but there were almost no lines! Even the lunch lines were nonexistent. Usually you queue up for a while and search for a table (in Orlando, anyway). We ended up at the Tahitian Terrace, a big, empty restaurant. I got the lemongrass chicken and she got Thai chicken curry. Neither of us could finish our meals. The servings were huge. The food was very good. It was easily the best meal we had on the entire trip.
The most memorable thing for me was the Big Grizzly Mountain roller coaster. It was Melane’s first coaster, and was a good one. Generally the runaway mountain type coasters are not as fast, and don’t have loops etc. Well this only looked like a wooden coaster, it was actually a steel coaster. There were no loops but there were a couple surprises. On the second hill, as we were going up the chain, we dropped and went back down the hill backwards. We backed into cave and the bear that has been hassling us for the entire ride had some TNT. As soon as we got in the cave and stopped I knew there was only one way to get us moving again – and I did not have time to warn Melane. At last second, right before the bear blew us up, the synchronized motors kicked in and launched us out of the cave. It was a fun ride. Melane said she is ready to go home ha ha.
After her displeasure at the Grizzly Mountain coaster, we opted to skip Space Mountain. A shame really, it is also a great ride. She enjoyed Fantasyland the most, I think. She really seemed to like PhilharMagic, and the Winnie The Pooh Adventure. Also, she really liked all the animatronics in Small World, and the Jungle Cruise. The character meet & greets have their own section, Fantasy Grotto, so we got lots of pics with the characters.
The only real problem was that there is no Pirates of The Caribbean ride. Always one of my favorite rides (long before the movies). Oh, and the train was closed for renovation. When you get tired in the afternoon a trip around the park is a nice break.
For her first real amusement park I think she held up pretty well. These parks can be rather daunting to the amateur ha ha. The kids and I did many Spring Break trips to Orlando so 4 or 5 parks in a week is easy. This one was enough for her, but I think it went well.
We did one day of shopping in the Kowloon district. It was fun. It was the day after Disney and she did not want to wake up! My phone was having battery problems so very little video in the city – bummer. The shopping was alright, but not spectacular. Too many street vendors were selling the “made in China” junk that we don’t buy at home. There was an odd bookstore that was outside, under a staircase. Somehow the guys there just looked like they would know where a magic shop was. I asked, and sure enough they knew. They pointed down the street and said there was a magic store in a mall about 3 blocks away. So off we go… and find it is closed. I asked at another store there and the vendor said the magic store opened at 6 PM. The owner runs it after he gets of work at his regular job. Too bad. I thought it would be fun to look around, and buy some cheap effects.
I am usually a big fan of street food. Singapore and Korea are a lot of fun for street food vendors. Japan is great for the odd snacks at the stores (and wonderful noodle houses). The street food here was rather unappealing. Ok a bit repulsive, to be honest. One shop had what looked like a giant slab of fat floating in hot water. Not what either of us wanted for lunch. She actually wanted to go to McDo’s for fried chicken. I ordered a burger and it was so bad I went back bought some fried chicken too. I mean it was so bad it made Philippines hamburgers seem good!
There was a shopping center next to the hotel so we bought sandwich fixin’s for the room. Good deli meat, cheese, and bread selection! It is hard to find affordable sandwich fixin’s in the PI’s. In the same shopping center was a good pizza place too. So we did eat well for the 4 days we were there. The food at Disney was, of course, very good and not too expensive. Disney is dependable on food.
Overall we had a great time. We accidentally stayed in a very beautiful area. So that was nice. None of the immigration or airport horror stories happened to us. The whole trip went fine. I like having a balikbayan stamp in my passport and not having to mess with immigration for a whole year. Now we have to decide if I want to get the 13a (marriage) visa, or go somewhere else next year…