Got the wind on my back and my sail all set towards the seas. After a nice 2-day backpacking (with long walks) in Macau, I'm just halfway through my adventure trip and still hungry for more. I could almost smell the changing breeze towards me as I waited for my next ferry ride from the Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal in Taipa Island, Macau.
The Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal (a.k.a Macau Ferry Terminal or Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Pier) is located in Porto Exterior, Macau Peninsula. I arrived early and excited. The terminal looks more like an airport with its own customs and immigration facilities, snack bars and cafes, currency exchange and of course, shops. Luckily, there are seats you could just get on without waiting in the standby queue as the ferries are rarely full during weekdays, so I managed to buy a one-way economy ferry ticket up front.
The cost for the economy class is HK$142 per seat (very cheap at the time) including taxes (I heard tickets will cost more on weekends). Seats will be allocated at the boarding gate. There are several different companies offering ferry rides to Hong Kong which all departs about every 30 minutes from 07:00 to 22:00. I took the ferry operated by TurboJet for almost an hour journey heading to main Hong Kong Island.
The boarding formalities from Macau terminal are quite straightforward. I passed through Macau Departure Control briefly, got a nice departure stamp on my passport, directed down a ramp and onto the ferry. We were allowed to take a hand luggage up to 10 kgs each. Good thing, I only got nothing — but my backpack! Once boarded, we got the familiar airline buckle up voice over plus a safety demonstration. Then the boat slowly gets underway and clears the terminal.
After staying 2 days in Macau, an hour sojourn across waters is definitely a treat. It's one exciting ride past neighboring small islands as the ferry skims the wide estuary of the Pearl River. One could relax with food and drinks sold on board. Onboard toilet facilities are also very clean. Perhaps the only downside of the trip is the noise from the jet engines. I even thought the ferry as an aircraft. Needless to say, it's actually built by Boeing — makers of the world's safest aircraft.
The one-way trip only takes about one hour, however, it can take you just as long to clear customs and immigration once you get to Hong Kong.
I arrived at the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal located in Sheung Wan, north shore of Hong Kong Island. I was given a 14-day stamp on my passport as the standard minimum stay for Filipinos. From the terminal, I started walking all the way to the bustling streets of Hong Kong's business center until I reached Hong Kong Park next to Cotton Tree Drive, Central, Hong Kong. The park showcases Hong Kong's modern design and facilities blending with its natural landscapes.
After a nice relaxing moment at the park, I headed east until I passed Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre to the Golden Bauhinia Square with its forever-blooming Bauhinia flower. The square is perfectly resting at the center of the famed Victoria Harbour situated between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.
Long famous for its stunning panoramic views, Victoria Harbour is, no doubt, a major attraction in Hong Kong. I did not expect such spectacular harbor views — a truly rewarding experience. I slowly walked along the harbor until I reached the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club at Causeway Bay.
Victoria Harbour is a dazzling cityscape on its own but I intend to hang around patiently until early evening to witness an even grander display — A Symphony of Lights, Hong Kong's very own nightly interactive laser lights and music show involving no other than the 44 skyscrapers and landmarks on the sides of the Victoria Harbour.
I've got my nice spot along with an excited crowd of tourists and fellow backpackers waiting for the lights show which is put on at 8 PM for about 15 minutes. The buildings are showcased through a gradient effect shining from bottom to top musically synchronized as the color changes like a kaleidoscope and the laser and lights dancing in the sky. It was perhaps the most vibrant and glamorous city night view I've ever seen. Strangely enough, I felt a subtle touch of loneliness for the first time in my solo backpacking as I found myself next to couples enjoying the lights show together. I guess that's one of the few downsides of traveling alone. Cheeky. Boy, it did hit me.
Anyway, I hopped on the next public bus going to Kowloon to find a cheap hostel. I was not able to book prior as most of the cheap online hostels that time was fully booked due to the Golden Week and National day in China.
I read about the guesthouses in Mirador Mansion so I tried my luck. I was able to get a decent cheap bed from Seaview Guesthouse located at 58 Nathan Road, Mirador Mansion, Flat B3, 16 Floor. Even though the Mirador Mansion is a bit dodgy, I felt safe with the warm hospitality of Apple, the lady owner from Nigeria. I sincerely enjoyed the company of her family.
Next day, I went back to the Harbour and strolled along Victoria Bay sidewalk called The Avenue of Stars. The avenue stretches about 440 meters along the shoreline and was designed after the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
And sure enough, you'll find some famous metal figures, real-life handprints and signatures of famous Hong Kong actors such as Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Li — an interesting showcase of Hong Kong's film industry history and accomplishments.
After the walk of fame, I headed next to Kowloon Park to enjoy its serenity and a peaceful afternoon lunch. The park has a small aviary which houses about 40 species of 140 birds. The Chinese Garden is my personal favorite with a nice and relaxing view of rock cascades, lotus ponds and maze gardens.
On the other hand, I did get a boost of energy just staying at the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens, ready to take my new challenge — trekking up to the grand Victoria Peak on foot! It's probably a once in a lifetime experience, so I had to make a separate blog especially just for My Great Victoria Peak Hike.
I had to deviate from my original plan to enter mainland China as I had a limited time and considering the glitz of Hong Kong, I had to constrain my budget. So I spent my last day at the Kowloon Island and explored most of it by walking. I did go back to the Harbour and spent a nice siesta back at the Kowloon Park.
After a few more stroll around the city, I took a double-decker Cityflyer public bus (operated by Citybus) heading to Hong Kong International Airport (locally referred to as HKIA) where Philippines' very own low-cost airline, Cebu Pacific, finally got me back home to Manila.