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Category Archives: 2011

Checked-in: Three times in Hong Kong, China (2010, 2011, 2012)

Victoria Harbour

I have been to the former British Colony three times already. The first was in September 2010 – my 2nd  solo trip outside of the Philippines after securing a very cheap roundtrip ticket (Php1,300) from Cebu Pacific . The second trip came four months later with office colleagues and was not as cheap as my first visit (costed me Php4,200) while the third trip was in February 2012 with family and friends costed around Php2,800.

In all three occasions the most helpful source of information about Hong Kong (other than tips from friends and colleagues who have been to Hong Kong)  is the Philippine online community forum site Pinoyexchange (http://www.pinoyexchange.com) which has a dedicated thread for people interested to visit the country.

The link below brings you the “Ultimate Guide to Hong Kong” thread (http://www.pinoyexchange.com/forums/showthread.php?t=532044).  Although it takes some time to digest all the available information I can attest how helpful and reliable the posted information is. Thanks to all who contributed in composing and compiling information from websites, and most especially sharing their own experiences to everybody.

What I like most about Hong Kong is the ease of getting around. With its public railway system, even a first time visitor will not have a difficult time getting from one place to another.

For me when Hong Kong is mentioned, two things come to mind: Disneyland and Shopping. 🙂

Hong Kong Disneyland:  The Happiest Place on Earth!

Disneyland: The Happiest Place on Earth

I can say that a visit to Hong Kong wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Hong Kong Disneyland especially for someone who grew up with those cute and lovable Disney characters like Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Goofy, Pluto, the different princess characters, among others.  I have been to Disneyland three times (once for every visit to Hong Kong).

Parade in 2010

Parade in 2012

Back in 2009, a Disneyland ticket costs only HKD350.00 per person but beginning mid-2011, the park increased ticket prices to HKD399.00. Fortunately, you can still buy discounted tickets from travel agencies in Hong Kong. For tickets only, I bought from Travel Easy located at Worldwide House in Central. During my 3rd visit, I got my ticket along with meal stubs for HKD458.00 from China Travel Services.


 

Endless Shopping

It’s actually difficult to combine site seeing and shopping in Hong Kong if you are a first time visitors or if you are with first time visitors because you always try to strike a balance between the two. In the three times I have been to Hong Kong, I agree that a trip is not complete without a visit to Citygate Outlet which houses Nike, Puma, Adidas, Crocs, and Giordano stores, among others under one roof. Some of these brands offer unique promos which cannot be found in other outlets in Hong Kong.

Citygate Outlets

@Mongkok

Mongkok's street foods

Though I have been to Hong Kong 3 times in three succeeding years (2010, 2011, and 2012), this Chinese territory has never failed to satisfy my curiosity as a turista and I think that there are still many things to explore, discover, and experience in Hong Kong worth visiting again. In addition, its proximity to neighboring Macau is an added come-on. I surely look forward to my next visit in Hong Kong. 🙂

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Posted by on March 25, 2012 in 2012, Hong Kong

 

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Checked-in: Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei (2011)

Around May or June 2011, Cebu Pacific’s Php11 seat sale prompted me to look for another adventure outside of the Philippines. I noticed that discounted tickets going to the more popular destinations such as Bangkok, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, were sold out immediately (i.e. 1-2 hours after promo start). However, there were available discounted tickets for other destinations including Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB) in Brunei. My roundtrip ticket cost me only P1,030 without check-in luggage. It was a real steal indeed! 🙂

I am posting this blog entry ahead of my other travels as this trip was my most recent trip (happened only a few months ago).

Manila to BSB flights depart from NAIA at 11:40pm and arrive at Brunei International Airport the following day at 1:40am.

After passing through the immigration check-in, I changed some US Dollars to Brunei Dollars. It is quite expensive in Brunei as 1 B$ is equivalent to around Php34 to Php35 – the same exchange rate for Singapore Dollars.

Brunei Dollars

While Brunei’s airport is open 24 hours, the same cannot be said of its public buses which stop operations at 6pm. There are taxis, however, waiting at the airport’s arrival section at a very expensive flat rate of B$30.

Because I didn’t want to spend a lot on taxi, I tried to follow what a blogger (Nina Fuentes of Just Wandering Blog [http://justwandering.org/2010/destination/brunei-travel-tips] did – sleep in the airport. I even shot a similar photo found in her blog.

"bed" at Brunei International Airport

Though the idea of sleeping in the airport may sound easy to pull-off, it was rather difficult for me to do specially I was dead tired (I still went to work that day) and it was so cold in the airport. The end result: I approached one of the taxi drivers and bargained if he could do B$20. As I never planned NOT to sleep in the airport upon arrival, I did not make any hotel reservation to from the time of my arrival until the normal check-in time of 12noon. I asked the driver to bring me to the newly-renovated The Brunei Hotel. Technically, I needed only a room for a half-day stay. Too bad, the hotel does not provide that so I paid the rate equivalent to a one day stay. 😦 On the other hand, though expensive I still appreciated staying in the hotel because I was able to rest well, have a hot shower, and eat a lot during breakfast. 🙂

The Brunei Hotel

Come lunchtime, BSB’s local version of KFC was good in terms of taste, serving size, and price.

Ayamku Restaurant - BSB's version of KFC

In the afternoon of the same day, I transferred to Pusat Belia Youth Hostel, probably the cheapest accommodation available for only B$10/night (just don’t expect the luxuries you can get from hotels such as toiletries, linens, breakfast, etc.). Reservations can be made by email to hostel.youthcentre.brunei@gmail.com.

Pusta Belia Youth Hostel - cheapest accommodation in BSB

After checking-in at Pusat Belia, I met a couple (a Filipina and a Canadian) who also just checked-in at the hostel. They offered to tag me along with them on their city tour that day for free! So they rented a taxi cab for 3 to 4 hours and went to different tour sites and government buildings in BSB.

Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque

Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque

Jame'Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque

We also went to the Sultan of Brunei’s Palace locally called Istana Nurul Iman. Unfortunately, the royal family only allows the public to enter the palace during the end of Ramadan. It would have been nice to go inside the largest of the Sultan of Brunei’s palaces just to see how really big and grand it really is.

@ the Sultan's Palace

@ the Sultan's Palace

Gate at the Sultan's Palace

Gate at the Sultan's Palace

Government Building opposite Pusat Belia Youth Hostel

Government Building opposite Pusat Belia Youth Hostel

The Philippines’ Jollibee is very visible and popular even among locals in BSB with its outlets outnumbering McDonald’s lone store in the capital of Brunei.

Jollibee!

Jollibee's spicy fried chicken

Lone McDonald's outlet in BSB

Gardenia Rut Bir: I thought the Gardenia brand is only for baked products!

There really is not much to see in BSB and touring the city can be done in one full day. Nevertheless, I still  enjoyed my short stay in BSB. I would still want to come back again to go inside the Sultan’s Palace, and make a trip outside of Brunei’s capital along with a trip of nearby Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia. 🙂

Below is my expenses list in BSB.

Expenses in BSB

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2012 in 2011, Brunei