Thursday, February 12, 2015

Hongkong Travel Experience

My trip to Hongkong with my sister Fiona way back in 2007 was one of my most memorable travel experiences.

When my sister, who was working in Bermuda then, went home for a vacation after a long stint abroad, we decided to take a short trip for a bonding occasion, having missed each other from the long distance. 

She flew in from Manila and I from Singapore, marking the beginning of a set of unforeseen events that made our experiences so much more interesting.

Our first stop was Disneyland. A funny experience highlighted our tour of one of the world's most iconic theme parks. While lining up to get our picture taken with one of the Disney characters there, my sister and I wondered which role the lovely cast member played. We both were never into fairytale stories and movies while growing up but eventually we decided she was Cinderella, one of the more popular Disney Princesses. When our turn came, my sister, ever the gregarious person, waved and said, "Hi Cinderella!" To which she was given a tart reply, "Oh, It's Alice! Alice in Wonderland!" Hahahaha!

I know. I know. Don't laugh at us, ok. It is silly to mistake her for Cinderella! I am so embarrassed! ROFL.
We went around the city and had fun shopping at outlet malls. There's plenty and they sell items really cheap compared to other shopping destinations like Singapore. A popular shopping destination for tourists in Hongkong is the Ladies Market, where bargain clothing, accessories, watches, cosmetics, bags and all forms of trinkets are on sale. Unfortunately, we had an unpleasant encounter with a sales lady there.

Apparently, the local culture is if you don't intend to buy, then don't bother to ask. We did actually go by that rule until we chanced upon a stall, where my sister got curious and looked around the luggage on display. A sales person, with calculator at hand, approached us and started quoting us a price. We firmly said No, but the lady continued giving us different prices. It was tough escaping the very persistent sales rep, so eventually we decided to leave altogether. On our way out though, the lady grabbed my sister's arm roughly and started cursing us in Chinese. My goodness! We can laugh about it now although at that time we were probably too flabbergasted by the whole thing.

We didn't allow that to ruin the moment though. We went around and enjoyed the city as much as we could. A tip when going to Hongkong, make sure you carry with you the name card of your hotel as well as brochures of places you want to go. You can show them to taxi drivers and this will make it easy for everyone to reach their intended destination. 

Finally, on our return trip back home - she to Manila and I to Singapore - my sister and I both missed our flights. Confused as we were with the time difference, we lounged around the airport several hours before our departure only to miss our planes! We had to rebook our flights the following day, putting a further dent in our pockets, and ended up staying overnight at the busy but very comfortable Hong Kong International Airport. An overnight stay at an airport - a first for us, and hopefully the last.

There are experiences we only learn when we dare to explore places that are unfamiliar. Therefore, despite a few unsatisfactory events, here's a toast to future travels and more eye-opening experiences! Cheers!

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