Monthly Archives: December 2013

Hong Kong: Food Trip and Shopping in Mong Kok

Mong Kok is a known shopping haven in Hong Kong.  I’m familiar with this place since we went here on my first visit to Hong Kong in 2010.

This year, our first visit to Mong Kok was on our second night.  A.V. and I decided to do some night shopping after watching the Symphony of Lights.  My friend bought some watches and jade while I had a field day buying craft supplies.


Seeing these was such a pleasant surprise because they sell it cheap!  I forgot the exact amount, but it’s about HKD 30-35 apiece.  In peso, that’s about Php 180, which is such a good buy because the cheapest Martha Stewart craft punchers I have cost me Php600+!


Of course, the quality isn’t as great because unlike my Martha Stewart, EK and Tonic punchers, these only work on thin (about 80 gsm) papers (the branded ones can punch through card stock, even on boards as thick as 230 gsm).

Because we’re taking the midnight flight on our last day, we decided to while our time away by going back to Mong Kok for some food trip.


Hong Kong is a street food-lover’s paradise and this is evident in the scores of sidewalk stalls in the streets that sell anything from the usual tofu, fishballs, vegetables and meat on sticks, etc. to the unusual (at least for some) stuff like octopus legs and squid.

My friend and I first tried the eggette (gai daan jai), which is simply a kind of spherical pancake or ball waffle made from eggs, sugar, flour, and evaporated milk.  It is also called egg puff, egg waffle and bubble waffle.


Interestingly, they now serve it in flavors like chocolate as in 2010, we only tried the plain one.  In the above collage, the darker one is the chocolate-flavored eggette.  I was thinking that maybe they just put some food coloring on it since it did not taste chocolate-y at all.

Later, my friend and I bought some fishballs and meat balls.  Of note was its perfectly round size since ours back home aren’t.  Our fish balls aren’t even spherical but just round and flat.


Cheap and filling, though I still prefer Pinoy street food.

Lastly, we had Hong Kong’s famous milk tea.


It’s surprisingly good.  And they come in many flavors too.  I liked its taste so much that I now put milk on my tea.

Since it was also our last day in Hong Kong and I still had a lot of Hong Kong currency, I decided to buy more craft punchers and luggage tags.  Here’s a photo of my haul from Mong Kok.


The luggage tags came in handy as Christmas presents for colleagues.

As I was doing this post, I did further reading on Mong Kok and found out that it was rated the busiest district in the world by the Guiness World Records.  No wonder, as it’s so crowded (its population density is said to be 10,000 persons per km2).


Note the cartoon-like character and the balloon lady in the collage.  Such interesting characters are common in the area.

To know more about Mong Kok, read HERE.


Hong Kong: The Peak and The Peak Tram Experience


After our Ngong Ping 360 adventure, my friend and I were off to The Peak, which is the pinnacle of Hong Kong with a spectacular view of its cityscape.  The country’s Tourism Board even touted it as their must-go-to destination if you have to visit only one place in Hong Kong.

Getting Here
We took the MTR and alighted at Central.  The walk to the Peak Tram Lower Terminus was an interesting one since we passed by two of Hong Kong’s iconic buildings: The Bank of China Tower and the Cheung Kong Center.

The Bank of China Tower
It’s interesting to note that this I.M. Pei-designed landmark is fraught with controversy because of its design.  Built to resemble growing bamboo shoots symbolizing livelihood and prosperity, some feng shui experts criticized it for its sharp edges and for having numerous X shapes.

Once Hong Kong and Asia’s tallest building (from 1990 to 1992), the Bank of China Tower is the first building outside the U.S.A to break the 1,000 feet mark.

The Cheung Kong Center
Designed by Cesar Pelli and Leo A. Daly, the Cheung Kong Center was designed to absorb the negative energy coming from the Bank of China’s sharp edges or “cleaver,” feng-shui-wise.

As of this writing, the Bank of China Tower and the Cheung Kong Center are respectively the 4th and 8th tallest buildings in Hong Kong.

Did you notice the pool of water with a reflection of the above-mentioned buildings in my collage?  It was interesting to see it change colors.

The Peak Tram Experience

The Peak Tram is the most convenient way to reach The Peak.  It is also historical because it’s first commercial operation was in 1888.

It was already past 9 PM when we reached the Peak, but I did not expect the horde of people waiting for their tram ride.  As usual, I amused myself by snapping photos.  There was a historical gallery, but it was cordoned off.

When it was our turn, I did not expect the clamor for seats.  People were pushing their way into the train and my friend and I got separated.

I read somewhere that the ride up to the peak offers a picturesque view of Hong Kong’s skyline, but I really couldn’t tell because it was dark.  Besides, taking beautiful photos would have been futile because people were blocking the view.

When we reached the Peak, we passed by Madame Tussauds, which was also crowded with people.  We’re not really interested in seeing waxed figures of celebrities so we skipped this (I skipped Madame Tussauds too when we visited Los Angeles last year).  Interestingly, the Peak also had shops, but most were already close during our visit.

Sky Terrace 428
This was our purpose in going to The Peak.  The Sky Terrace 428 is the highest viewing platform in Hong Kong.  I actually already wrote about this on my teaser post about Hong Kong.  This time, I am sharing more photos of the view from Sky Terrace 428.

It was a really beautiful sight despite the fog, but I’d love to see this same view during the day.  Or at sunset.


A note to those who plan to go here: Check the weather before going because when it’s foggy, you will not see a thing.  And do bring a jacket because it can get really chilly,

For more information about The Peak, please visit their official website.


Hong Kong: Ngong Ping 360

My friend and I dedicated day 2 of our Hong Kong trip to discovering Ngong Ping 360, which is home to the Po Lin Monastery and the Tian Tan Buddha.

We arrived at the Tung Chung Cable Car Terminal at around 10 AM and were so surprised to see a long queue of people lining up to get tickets for Ngong Ping.  It was soooo long a line that my friend and I thought of just taking the bus, but the almost 2-hour travel time set us back.  And so we waited in line for almost 2 hours.  Yeah, I know.  The wait is as long as the travel time, but we opted for this since we get dizzy on long bus rides.

A.V. and I just spent our time chatting and laughing, and people-watching, with me occasionally taking photos of anything that interested me during the long wait.

Aaaand finally, we were able to board the cable car that will take us to Lantau Island.

Onboard, we had vistas of the Hong Kong International Airport, the South China sea and the  mountainous terrain of Lantau Island.

Unfortunately, midway through our flight, the weather took a turn for the worse and for our own safety, they stopped the cable car’s operations which meant we got stuck mid-air for about 15 minutes.

The wind was so strong that we could hear its whooshing sound.  It was really scary being up there while the strong wind rattled the cable car sideways and we were rendered helpless, stuck within the confines of the cable car.

When the weather improved, the cable car resumed its operation and after about 15 minutes, we arrived in Ngong Ping Village.

Honestly, I was expecting a somewhat authentic Chinese village thus I was disappointed to discover that Ngong Ping is primarily just a re-creation of what a Chinese village is.  It was also too crowded and the gloomy weather did not help me appreciate the place.

Since we were very hungry from our 2-hour wait plus the long scary ride, we opted to have lunch before exploring the place.  Lunch was at Zen Taiwanese Bistro.  The place was small (as most shops in Ngong Ping are) and only had 3 tables so expect to wait for a table when here.  I ordered Braised Pig’s Sponge Ribs with Rice (HKD 38).

The meat was tender, but I was put off by its mostly sweet flavor.  Still, it was a filling meal.  Plus, there’s my favorite corn kernels.

Afterwards, we walked around the village and came across the Bodhi Wishing Shrine, which had a description of a legend saying that wishes made at the Bodhi Wishing Shrine under the Bodhi Tree will come true.  The Bodhi Tree is also known as the Tree of Awakening, which was where the Buddha meditated under.

Again, I was disappointed that the tree was a mere replica but it did not stop me from wishing because I have always believed that when wishes are borne from a believing heart, even miracles can happen.

Next adventure: our climb up Tian Tan Buddha, which is a large bronze statue of Buddha Amoghasiddhi.  Unfortunately, the weather again acted up.  It was raining heavily so my friend and I decided to wait at one of the shops.

Almost half an hour later, the weather still had not improved.  We thought of foregoing our climb up the Buddha and between us, my friend was more willing to do away with our climb, but I reasoned that it would be a waste to pass the opportunity since we were already there.  And so she was forced to buy a $30 plastic raincoat (ever the girl scout, I had an umbrella and hooded jacket with me) just so she could climb up with me.

On the way, we passed by the statues of the 12 Divine Generals.  Reading through the signage per statue made me found the general that represents my year of birth (1983, Boar) in the Chinese Zodiac.


Here are photos of people climbing up the rain-drenched 240 steps leading to the Tian Tan Buddha.


Here’s a full view of the Buddha when we reached the landing.

Did you know that the Tian Tan Buddha was named as such because its base is a model of the Altar of Heaven or Earthly Mount of Tian Tan, the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, and that it sits on a lotus throne?  The Buddha symbolizes the harmonious relationship between man and nature, people and religion.

All in all, it is 34 meters (112 feet) tall and weighs 250 metric tons.  It is so big that it is claimed that it can be seen from as far away as Macau on a clear day.

The Buddha is also surrounded by six smaller bronze statues known as “The Offering of the Six Devas” that bear with them offerings of flowers, incense, lamp, ointment, fruit, and music.  These presents symbolize charity, morality, patience, zeal, meditation, and wisdom, all of which are necessary to enter into nirvana.

Too bad the view on the deck was all foggy.

Our next stop was the monastery, but ever the map-challenged, we got lost and instead found ourselves on some sort of temple with statues.

After going around for about 10 minutes, we finally found the monastery, which was under construction.  Too bad.

Just a trivia.  This monastery is known as the “Buddhist Kingdom in the South” built by three Zen masters in 1920.


Afterwards, we headed back to where the Tian Tan Buddha was and settled at its foot, where some sort of plaza was bedecked in flags of red and yellow.  The Buddha was very visible from here.

Did you notice a cow on the collage?  We were amused to see it roaming freely in the plaza.

Our final stop in Ngong Ping was the Wisdom Path.  We almost gave up going here because it was already raining rather heavily and the way there was not tourist-friendly (no one else was on the same trail and we later encountered a couple who opted to go back), but we decided it might be something worth visiting.  To get to the Wisdom Path, we navigated through the rain, mud, and trees.

The view was beautiful to me, in a haunting way.

Finally, we arrived at our intended destination, and I must admit I was again a little disappointed.  This same scene looked so beautiful in their brochure because of the vivid blue sky, but since it was rainy, it looked gloomy.  Note that I edited the photo by using a blue filter since the original looked so bleak.

The brochure stated that the Wisdom Path traces a series of 38 wooden steles (upright monuments) with verses from the centuries-old Heart Sutra, one of the world’s renowned prayers revered by Confucians, Buddhists, and Taoists alike.  The inscription on these steles were based on the calligraphy of the contemporary scholar Professor Jao Tsung-I.  The steles were arranged in a pattern that represents infinity.


Going back to the cable car station, we passed by these.

Waiting for our ride was again a test of patience.  We waited for at least an hour shivering from the cold (my jacket was soaked!), and my only consolation was that during our ride, it was already sunset so the view was lovely.

I want to end this post with photos of the Tian Tan Buddha as viewed from different vantage points around Ngong Ping.

Photos from the above collage were edited using filters from my favorite collage app, PhotoGrid.

For more information of Ngong Ping 360, please visit