Correct me if I'm wrong but during my childhood in the 80s, Hong Kong was probably the top destination for most Filipino families who had a travel budget. If you had a bigger budget, I'm guessing L.A. would be a common destination too.
I'm not basing this on any statistics, just on the number of childhood photos (a.k.a. Pixelated #ThrowbackThursday photos on Instagram), obligatory HK plates taken in the key scenic spots, and magnets I've seen in friends' houses.
As a grown up, Hong Kong disappeared from my dream destinations since it was all about Esprit shops for me as a kid. Thankfully, cheaper flights and shows abroad brought me all around the world and I finally convinced myself to go back to Hong Kong as an adult! To stay true to theme, my trip back to my childhood required a stay at the Disney hotel.
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The best part was waltzing in the huge garden where they played orchestra versions of all the beautiful Disney songs. I loved meeting and speaking with Cinderella in the Kingdom's hotel lobby. I introduced my friend Cinderella to my mother who was vacationing with her best friend (tita) Kris Aquino and her family who are big Disney theme park fans.
My mother looked both perplexed and amused as she tried to pose like a princess. She smiled a cute smile and I'm always happy to see that especially after a tough and trying year. I love how finding our inner child is the simplest and most beautiful joy :)
With my inner child completely happy, I went on to make my adult self happy by doing a little shopping and going to the photo bombing-drinking-dancing party that is Lan Kwai Fong. With my ice cream cone in hand, I took a gazillion photos and danced with everyone on the closed street as we peeked to see what was going on in most of the bars. The best thing about this street is that you can get your drinks and food at the 7/11 if your budget has become depleted from too much shopping.
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At a certain point, Hong Kong became too expensive for me because the shops were irresistible. Luckily, my friend Nelson Caruncho (screen name: Nello) picked me up and we took the ferry to Macau, got another stamp on our passport and then took the free bus to the Venetian hotel.
We planned to see an exhibit and go shopping but I loved the restaurant Portofino so much that we decided to spend most of our time Al Fresco soaking up the sun as we indulged in the Pizza, Pasta e Basta lunch! (See video: Portofino in Venetian, Macau) For 128 Macao Patacas (MOP) per pax, you can pick and share a salad, 3 different pizzas and 3 different pasta dishes. They will keep bringing salad, pizza and pasta upon request to your table until you've had enough.
When your tummy is happy , take a stroll in the Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square) where the air conditioned weather is always perfect and it's sunny until 8:30 PM. There are shows that happen all around and sometimes international celebrities take a moment to do an impromptu song for fun. But if you're looking for a surefire treat, make your way to the gondolas which you will find by following the signs and/or the sound of music. It costs 118 MOP or HKD per pax. If I were you, ask for my friend Nello who is my favorite gondolier. He will sing your favorite Italian aria or nursery rhyme "row row row your boat" in opera form.
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After the gondola ride, I was so happy to be in Italy for the first time that I went on to dance with my friend in the square. Then it was back to reality that I had to make a mad dash back to Hong Kong so I could fly back to Manila. But, the amazing race feel is part of the fun. If you have an afternoon to spare = 2 hours ferry ride back and forth + 30 minutes bus ride back and forth + eating time + walking time, head to Macau!
I can't wait to go back to Hong Kong actually. Tweet me your favorite places so that I will know where to go next time. I'll compile them in my new flickr page, so tweet me your Instagram or twitpic photos @anakarylle ;)