Hong Kong & Macau Trip

0 Comments 12 April 2012 / by

as our tradition every year, we take a family trip as naia’s birthday celebration. we don’t necessarily take the trip on her birthday, but we would plan one major trip that year as her birthday present, sometimes we take it a bit early, sometimes a few months after her actual birthday. this year, on her 4th birthday, we took the trip on the exact date of her birthday, along with my big family in tow – my parents and my brother’s family, to hong kong. main destination: hong kong disneyland!! this will be naia’s second birthday trip to disneyland. her first one was when she was 2 years old in disneyland tokyo. too bad she was too small to enjoy the rides then, and we got rained on almost the entire time we were there. so she barely remembers the experience.

we planned the trip since last year. we figured since i’d still be on maternity leave and neishia would be old enough to go on a plane ride, we decided that we should go in april, the birthday month. after a month of preparation, making sure that everyone can make it on that specific week, we decided that we will go on a 5 days 4 nights trip to hong kong, leaving on the day naia is having her 4th birthday.

DAY 1: HONG KONG DISNEYLAND & FIREWORKS

we left at dawn, early in the morning to catch the 8AM flight. naia was happy and awake by morning time, so she was prepared and get ready, while neishia was still asleep. i just picked her up, changed her nappies and took her in her pajamas. by noon, we arrived at hong kong international airport and took the transport to disney hollywood hotel in disneyland resort. we arrived a bit early, so our rooms were not yet available, so we had our lunch first in one of the restaurants in the hotel. since this trip is with my parents, they are a bit picky with food and it was one big thing that would haunt us til the rest of the trip. my dad, especially, are big in eating good and making sure the place we eat is halal-certified or at least do not serve pork in the menu. now that we’re in hong kong, it’s a bit tough, but we tried to do what he requested. after lunch, the rooms were ready. to our surprise, the hotel gave us another 2-day passes again, which i guess this would be part of the hotel package. we bought the trip package including the 2-day passes to disneyland which were handed to us by the travel guide when they picked us up at the airport. so now we had excess entrance tikets to hong kong disneyland. so we decided to share the tickets with the dennys (my brother’s family) who did not plan to visit hong kong disneyland in the first place.

so we went in and had a rest before going out again to disneyland, taking the shuttle from the hotel that goes every 15 minutes. oh, when we got into the hotel rooms, someone knocked on the door and gave a birthday card and present for naia. she also got a pin that says “today is my birthday” that she put on her clothes so that everywhere she went that day, everyone would cheer her “happy birthday” and she would get a sticker. and naia loooves stickers!

the disney hollywood hotel was nice and big. we got 2 full beds in each room and our room was connected to my parents’ room, so it’s even bigger for all of us. everything in the room was disney related, of course, from the slippers, bed heads to the hotel’s shampoo and other bahtroom essentials. the hotel itself is also nice and big, plenty restos to choose from with big yard and nice swimming pool. i didn’t really take a lot of the pictures of the hotel (in fact, none!) cuz seriously, it’s either my hands are full with the kids or my parents who keep asking this and that. ario didn’t realize that there is another hotel in the resort with princess themes. i thought he knew, it would’ve been perfect for naia. oh well, maybe next time!

our plan for the first day in disneyland was just to look around and see which rides naia would want to go, have our dinner and watch the fireworks. easy and relaxing? yes.. but still tiring for us nonetheless. and it’s only the first day! my brother and his family joined us and stayed with us for the night. it was fun that everyone was joining us for naia’s birthday at disneyland.

we stayed until the fireworks show, the highlight of the night. we told naia jokingly that the fireworks were there for her birthday .. naia actually loves fireworks but she’s afraid of the loud sounds it makes. good thing that the show in disneyland are accustomed for kids her age, so the fireworks were definitely kids-friendly that she can enjoy the whole show without being afraid of the loud cracks. it was wrapped in a wonderful presentation too.

DAY 2: HONG KONG DISNEYLAND – THE RIDES

we arrived at disneyland at brunch time, after checking out from the hotel. we left our bags at the concierge since we will be spending the night at kowloon tonight. we had brunch at one of the cafe in the main street USA. just right after we finished our foods, the parade was about to start. naia and hubby took a spot on the side of the street while i carried neishia in sleepywrap and went in and out of the shops (not for shopping, merely to get the aircon to cool us off heheh). the weather was nice and hot, totally different from last night’s weather which was a bit chilly and windy, probably because the sun is out so we can feel the heat more than the chilly weather.

naia was dancing on the street, taken by one of the characters from winnie the pooh. she was really enjoying herself. after the parade was done, we went to toy story land, the latest attraction in the park. the place was more crowded than we thought it would, considering it was a monday. each ride took us about 1 hour wait time. naia were still a bit afraid to take the big rides like the roller coasters, she was more into the flying dumbo kind of rides. so we were pretty much walking around, taking pictures. if the rides are fun and the wait is not so long, naia would go up with either myself or with her dad. we walked around to other attractions like winnie the pooh, fantasyland, and so on.. by around 5PM, we went back to the main street to have our early dinner, then off we went to the tomorrowland. naia fell asleep as we were waiting to have a car ride “autopia”, maan.. it was heavy to carry her. but she insisted that she wanted to ride the cars, despite of being sleepy and falling asleep in my arms.

by 8PM we went back to the hotel, waiting for our transport out of the disneyland resort to our hotel in kowloon. we arrived at the kimberley hotel at kimberley road around 10PM. the hotel claims to be a four-star, but i think it still struggles to be a three-star (sigh). however the location was quite convenient because the hotel was only a walking distance from tsim sha tsui MTR station. too bad that eventhough we got our connecting rooms, it was in a smoking section so it was really smelly. unfortunately, those were the only rooms they have left for the day. we requested to change the rooms the next day, which means, we have to take only the clothes we are wearing for the night and for tomorrow morning, since we need to move the luggages again. we are booked for a city tour early in the morning, so despite of being so tired from being on our feet the whole day, we couldn’t rest just yet. we also had a birthday celebration at the room, since naia didn’t get to blow a candle and had a birthday cake yesterday.

DAY 3: HONG KONG CITY TOUR & MADAME TUSSAUDS MUSEUM

by 8AM, we were all ready at the lobby to be picked up for a half day tour around the city, which took us to hong kong island side first. since it’s very early in the morning, only myself and hubby were ready and took our showers, while we let the kids asleep. ario took care of naia, woke her up, brushed her teeth and changed her clothes, while i changed neishia’s nappies and clothes and prepared both kids’ essentials in the diaper bag. no showers for both of them since it’s too early and too cold.

the tour was only for half day but we visited some interesting places. the first stop was the golden bauhinia statue. a 20 minutes stop for photo-taking. then we went to a higher point in hong kong island where we could see kowloon side. however the view was not very clear, thanks to the constant haze in hong kong. then, we continued to repulse bay where the haves of hong kong bought their villas and condos. the beach was clean and beautiful. the kids started to be more active. naia was busy chasing uncle denny who carried baby klara. we stayed for almost 45 minutes before we returned to our bus to continue our tour.

next stop was aberdeen, the (former) fishermen village of hong kong, where the floating Jumbo restaurant is located. we took a 30-minutes boat ride around the floating village. the tour guide explained that the fishermen families live in the boats, but nowadays not so many young people want to continue such lifestyle anymore. therefore only the older people left in the village, and to support their livings, they provided tour to tourists in their boats, circling their floating village. a tour costs HKD$50 per adult (HKD$25 per kid). naia was quite excited to ride the boat, and she kept asking whether she could see crocodile later (laugh). for baby neishia, the boat ride made her a bit uncomfortable because of the strong wind. tho it seemed baby klara had no issue at all with the boat ride and kept on smiling to everyone.

the last stops were visiting some of shops. the guide kept saying that we were under no obligation to purchase anything, but the goods that we were going to see were at good qualities. the first shop was jewelry shop. the guide explained that jewelry business was the last manufacturing business left in hong kong, after the garment industries and toys industries escaped the territory due to high manufacturing costs. the jewelry business is a familiar territory for me since i used to deal with a lot of jewelry manufacturers in hong kong when i was still working in NYC. but since both naia and neishia were sleeping, ario and i did not join the group to see the jewelries, but we had no regret as we did not intend to buy anything. mom ended-up with two new bracelets from the shop in her arm, of course. the next shop was a chocolate shop. we found that some of the chocolates there were made in malaysia (doh).

so by the time we got back in our hotel, it was lunch time. again, looking for food is a big hassle for my parents. good thing we saw a sign says “INDONESIAN RESTAURANT” on our way back to the hotel. so we had our lunch there before we went back to the hotel. it was around 3PM as we arrived at the hotel. so after resting for a bit, we took the kids to take the showers and off we go to take the MTR. our destination – the peak galleria and madame tussauds museum. we had a different agenda with the dennys since they opted to go to harbour city mall instead. my parents were undecided but later on followed us to the MTR. good thing they did, cuz we definitely needed their help.

hong kong is definitely not a stroller friendly city. i guess we’re so spoiled with the convenience of singapore where everywhere is designed to be baby and stroller-friendly. we had to take the stairs up and down to get to MTR. since we brought 2 strollers (cuz naia was asleep), that means double work for us. we wanted to take the tram up to the peak, unfortunately the line was sooo long that we decided to take the taxi instead. we figured since there are 4 of us at HKD$50+ each to ride the tram, we better off taking the taxi that offers us HKD$200 for the ride. it was really expensive actually, since with the meter would only take less than HKD$100, but it’s worth it compared to 2 hours line and crowded tram.

madame tussauds was fun. the museum was small, unfortunately again, not stroller-friendly since there are 3 stories with narrow stairs and no lift or escalators. we had to leave the strollers in the entrance and carry the kids. naia was asleep at the time, so we had to wake her up resulting her in a bad mood… and that means, she doesn’t want to walk by herself since she’s still too sleepy *doh*

DAY 4: MACAU

day-4 was started early again because we had to catch 9-am ferry to macau. the ferry was very clean, better than ferry to batam island. all kids had no issue with the ferry rides (in-and-out hong kong). because our group has two babies, we were given priority in macau immigration and allowed to use senior citizen counters. this saved us a lot of time, as the other normal counters are very crowded. the immigration process was very simple as long as we filled-up the form properly. no visa is required for indonesian citizens to macau.

we joined a big tour group for this macau trip, and we have to admit that there were pluses and minuses for joining the tour group. one of the advantages was the conveniences, as we did not have to worry about the transport at all. one of the down-sides would be the shorter periods for each stop. our first stop was a traditional bakery where they made local pastries, claimed to be the oldest pastry in town. mom bought the crunchy sweet crepes with chicken floss inside. sounds weird, but it was really good. too bad, she only bought 1 pack. i should’ve bought more for gifts.

after the bakery, we had our lunch. the tour itinerary included one lunch meal for every paying participant (including naia, but not the babies). since naia just had big breakfast during the ferry ride, she did not want her lunch at all, and we asked the restaurant to pack her portion. as we finished lunch early, we walked around the restaurant and took pictures of macau’s goddess of Mercy, the kun lam Statue. the tour guide mentioned several times that the statue resembles more to virgin mary than to a chinese Goddess because portuguese built the statue. therefore locals call the statue as mary kun lam. the touf guide shared a lot of interesting history about macau, and it was really interesting to know.

then we went to macau tower. this stop came with optional tour to go up to the top for MOP120 per pax (kid pays MOP60). we (except my parents and neishia) took the optional tour to the top to see macau 360°. there were also other optional tours offered, such as sky-walking and bungee-jumping, but no one from our tour group took those. the top gallery had some glass-panel floors where we could see the grounds from above. naia was jumping on the glass floors, with no concerns of falling down and looking down below, while sis-in-law was so afraid to step on it. we also saw some bungee jumpers jumped down.

next stop was A-Ma temple, said to be the oldest temple in macau and the origin of macau name. we did not go inside the temple but outside the temple i found interesting murals made by some primary school students. the murals pictured daily macanese lifestyles from students’ eyes.

after A-Ma temple, we visited the ruin of st. paul cathedral, one of the main attractions in macau. the original cathedral was burnt twice in the past. the first one was due to candle light fire incident inside the church, and the second one was due to small fire incident from nearby housings. after the second fire incident, the church had no money to rebuild the cathedral, and left it as is. currently only the front façade of the church remains. we supposed to stay only 30 minutes at st. paul cathedral, because we still had one more stop before we head back to ferry terminal to catch our returning ferry.

the last stop was the venetian, one of main casinos in macau. casino is the main industry in macau, and most of the gamblers are foreign visitors. the venetian is unique because it has indoor canals where visitor can take gondola ride. similar concept was copied by singapore marina bay sands casino. however our visit to the venetian was very short and no one would be able to try the gondola ride. i only took naia up to the food court and got her some food because she said she was hungry (remember, she didn’t take her lunch). after she finished her food, it was time to go back to the bus and catch the ferry ride back to kowloon. so no time to even look around.

despite the tiredness, we got to the hotel a bit early around 7PM. we had some rest awhile then we went out again for dinner and visiting the lady’s market at mongkok. since our plan for this trip was for naia’s birthday celebration, i wasn’t planning on shopping. especially when i have to take care of two kids.. i was just too tired to do any shopping. so after we’re done with dinner, we looked around for awhile then we took the cab back to the hotel, while my mom, brother and sister-in-law stayed to do some shopping. it was the last night for my brother’s family since they are leaving early tomorrow morning.

DAY 5: RAINING IN HONG KONG

it’s our last day in hong kong. our flight is at night so we have a full day in the city to do a bit more of shopping, or so we thought. after checking out and left our luggages in the concierge, we took the cab to the islamic centre. i’ve been hearing about the infamous canteen where you can have halal dim sum and hong kong food. it wasn’t easy to search for it, but we managed to get there right before lunch time. unfortunately, by the time we’re done, it was starting to rain a bit and it was soo damn hard to find a cab that would take us back to our hotel in kowloon. so before the rain gets heavier, we decided to take the MTR instead.. and that means, double work with our stroller, up and down the stairs. good thing we only brought one stroller for neishia while naia’s was left in the hotel. by the time we got to tsim sha tsui area, the rain was getting heavier and we literally got stuck outside. so we went in to one of the malls and had coffee. the thing is, we were planning to do some shopping in the area before our transport pick us up to the airport. the damn rain didn’t allow us to do that. as soon as the rain was getting lighter, we headed back to the hotel and got ready for the pick up.

by 8PM we’re boarding our airplane and arrived back in singapore by midnight.

it was a long trip, one tiring trip that we’ve ever taken perhaps. it was fun nonetheless, but still, very tiring. i guess the fact that it was a trip with a big family, where we have to cater to my parents’ needs (mom wants shopping, dad just worries about food), the kids’ needs (playground.. eat.. sleep… playground..), and our needs (sight-seeing, just a bit of shopping but mostly ensuring that kids are comfortable and healthy). the clash of needs, combined with tight itinerary, left us home feeling so exhausted. i’m just happy that naia was happy to spend her birthday in disneyland with her oma and opa, om denny, tante vanda and baby klara.

since we’re back we’re trying to figure out where to go next.. another disneyland in another continent, perhaps? *grin* the tradition will continue with one major trip we look for every year for both kids.. till our next trip!

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a worker by choice, a mother and a wife by nature / owner of slesta.com / co-founder of the urban mama / the urban muslimah | email: slesta[at]slesta[dot]com

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