Trip to Hong Kong: The DIY Challenge

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With no intention whatsoever to rely on services of a travel agency or getting a tour package, Mccoy, my parents, and I booked our flights and with little over a month prior to our departure, we began creating our itinerary.

We thought it was that simple. Little did we know, prep stage would be a bit of a challenge. First of all, getting a hotel in a land-scarce nation like Hong Kong requires a little less discernment and a little more consideration. Yes, there are hundreds of accommodations to choose from—hotels, serviced apartments, backpackers’ inns, dorms, capsule hotels, home and flat rentals, private rooms, shared rooms etc. The problem lies in budget to space ratio. Low- to mid-end hotels usually range from 6 to 10sqm in space per room (toilet and bath included). That tiny! Since we didn’t want my parents to stay in such a tight space without having to splurge, we tried AirBnB for the first time. However, selecting a flat from AirBnB can be rather tricky. Unlike typical accommodation, AirBnB units are neither owned by chain brands nor managed by trained hoteliers. Pictures may lie and you can never really trust a place with little reviews. Aside from size and amenities, we picked ours by also considering pictures, reviews, cleanliness, accuracy and location ratings by previous guests. The one we got was a 2-bedroom flat in Mong Kok that has a separate living/dining, kitchen, toilet and bath, each room has double-sized bed, a/c unit, closet. Amenities include TV, safety deposit box, vacuum, weighing scale, fridge, microwave, 2-burner stove, rice cooker, coffee maker, hot shower and wireless Internet. We paid around P28,000 for 5 nights for 4 pax—cleaning and AirBnB fees included. It was definitely a win!

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Living/Dining area (folding table and chairs not seen in the pic). Every room in the apartment is spotless! (Photo grabbed from Airbnb)
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One of the bedrooms. So tidy and pretty. (Photo grabbed from Airbnb)
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Our humble kitchen. This is where we made all our breakfast. (Photo grabbed from Airbnb)
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View from The Peak. Although it’s gloomy, it’s still breathtaking.

Second challenge would be the weather. We found out that it’s summer in June but unlike here in Manila, theirs isn’t all too sunny. Rather, light showers and thunderstorms are persistent and expected during the season. That being said, we created a flexible itinerary—one that always had plan B. For instance, if the weather is poor, we’d ditch open deck bus and ferry going to central from TST, and opt for MTR instead. If the weather permits, we could doVictoria Peak, else, we’d settle for Madamme Tussauds. Also, we’d hit Disneyland only when a clear day opens up and make sure ponchos are available should it rain. As foreseen, it rained so hard the morning of day 4 forcing us to spend half day in the apartment. We thought only (indoor) shopping would be the best fit here so once the downpour stopped, even if it was still drizzling, we went out and explored Mong Kok area.

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H&M at Langham Place (walking distance from our flat)
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look at those heavy clouds and we’re on a double decker without roof!

Lastly, it’s food and very limited dining options in Mong Kok at night. Being night owls, Mccoy and I need our pre- or post-midnight chows. Local cafes and restaurants close early so fastfood and convenience stores are the only choice left. One funny evening, past 10pm, our stomachs growled like hungry lions. We recalled seeing a poster of McDonalds’ Black and White burgers so we particularly craved for those.

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photo grabbed from foodbeast.com

After what felt like a 2-km walk and three Mickey D’s, we gave up! We learned that the ‘it’ burgers were only available for a limited time. Apparently, we weren’t informed that the last day was yesterday! Ugh! It didn’t end there. At almost 11pm, with no spark of hope of getting the burgers, we decided to walk back home and on the way, we came across KFC. It’s on the 2nd floor of a building and as we climbed up the stairs, we saw the crew already mopping the floors and tidying up the dining and kitchen area. What luck! To make the long story short, we headed back to the flat, brokenhearted. We almost went home empty handed if it wasn’t for the 7-11 we happened to pass by. We grabbed some food there—I can’t remember what anymore because at that time, we’d take anything as long as it’s food. The 7-11 we’re talking here sits… wait for it…

…right beside our apartment. Damn that poster!

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