the plan for this hk trip was just one of those spur-of-the-moment decisions. he immediately booked the flight, while we were having coffee at gloria jeans in shangri-la mall. when we were trying to book the flight, quite a few times when mark's connection would get dropped and he needed to redo the whole thing. and we should have taken this as an omen of the impending disaster that's waiting for us!
mark already had an inkling that his soon to be expired (oct 2008) passport would be a problem. but he still went with the booking anyway. he soon found out that passports need to be at least six months valid to be able to travel outside the country. since we booked a sale flight, we knew that re-booking it won't be a choice coz we'll incur additional cost. so mark hurriedly renewed his passport, even going to the point of hiring 2 queuers to fall in line for him and brave the mid-day dfa heat. to his horror, dfa's new passport printing prevents them from fixing passport renewal in under 3 days. this, even if he holds any letter from any company that would supposedly request to fast track his application, did not help him. we even bothered anabelle, high school classmate, who's now based in hk, asking her to fake a letter that she'll get married and sponsor our trip there. but anabelle advised us not to go that way coz a lot of pinoys have been airport-to-airport-ed, suspected of transporting drugs or doing the flesh trade.
ultimately, we decided to do the rebooking coz we won't be able to refund it anyway. obviously, this cost us a few thousand bucks, while also incurring a 1-night priced penalty in our hotel rebooking. while the rebooking thingie was the main blooper in our trip, bad luck kept us company for the whole 5 days of our trip. here are the top 10 kapalpakan moments (in no particular order) that we had:
1. at naia, mark was apprehended by customs agents for bringing in more than 10,000 pesos cash. he got caught because he flaunted his very thick wallet (he had about 60k cash coz our plan was to buy hk dollar when we get there) for everyone to see. i felt that the officer who stopped him just wanted to get some dibs so i requested to see that policy if they had the written copy of it. and they did. good thing, when we got at their desk, we saw the customs head... a middle aged lady who reminds me of a high school principal. this lady said that she'll let us pass coz the money changer isn't open yet (our flight was 5:20 am). haaay!
2. upon reaching ywca hotel and getting a quick brunch from one of mong kok's dimsum houses, we immediately went shopping! the ladies market was just starting to spring to life when we got there, so we were excited to do some shopping and haggling. mark saw some nice supposedly white gold bracelets in one of the stalls. and since he thought he found a good bargain and he really liked what he got, he paid hkd 200 for each bracelets. then, we looked for some shirts and other things. after i got 3 silk ties for hkd 90, we chanced upon another stall selling the same bracelets that he got. to his major dismay, that stall is willing to sell him the very same bracelets for only hkd 100! he was sweating profusely, bitterly disappointed that he got ripped, we left that stall. but the lady held his arm and offered the bracelets for hkd 80! at that point, i felt that mark wanted to drop to his knees and scream his lungs out! he lost all his energy after that and just went with the flow wherever i felt going to. poor (rich) mark!
3. we wanted to go to macau, so on our 2nd day, off we went. even if the hotel staff weren't too friendly, mark still had the patience to ask for directions. the lady told him to take bus no. 7 in front of red logoed bank (i forgot the name of the bank). we crossed waterloo road to first buy some local hopia-looking pastries and some sweets. and mark's wit led us to bus no. 7 on that side of the roads, so we boarded that bus. to our surprise, that bus was heading north, to new territories! wahahahahaha! we should've crossed the street again! good thing, we met a macanese woman who speaks very good english and immmediately told us to get off that bus and take any bus that goes to tsim sha tsui. goodness gracious! since we didn't see any bus from where we got off, we walked, heading back to where we think we came from. we chanced upon a pinay OFW who's about to fetch her alaga from school. and she said that we can take bus no. 2 to go to victoria harbour, then hop on the star ferry to get to hong kong island. so there.
4. we finally reached macau around 2 pm. but mark said that we need not get a 7 pm ferry back to hk coz the time we had would be more than enough to tour the city. but no. it took longer time. we enjoyed macau tower, walking thru macau's old city and dining on macanese food, as well as trying some of their specialties. so naturally, we missed our 5 pm ferry and needed to buy another ticket. about hkd 110 were lost because of this. waldasan talaga!
5. both of us did not have any roaming service.
6. we brought laptops with us so that we can log in, for him to check the apprrovals and for me to send some emails. but we also didn't get any chance to do so. first, the hotel didn't have adaptors, and we couldn't find any wifi zone! even starbucks crew couldn't point us how to access their 1-hour free wifi access! talk about bad luck!
7. it was summer in hk, but mark brought winter clothes! wahahahaha! i already told him that he should bring comfy clothes but he opted to follow his friend’s advice! he was practically dripping from all the walking that we did!
8. when we got to disneyland, we had all our baggage with us! just imagine riding the a space-themed rollercoaster with your backpack full of dirty clothes with you! we deposited the big suitcases, but because of the exorbitant price of doing so, we opted not to deposit our backpacks and some paper bags. and these made our theme park trip a really dragging one.
9. mark wanted to buy some phones. so he wanted to go to wan chai coz his friend told him that this is the place for electronic items. i didn’t bother checking, so when we got there, we got another surprise! that place doesn’t have any stores selling electronic items. Instead, its streets were lined with girlie bars, with pinays roaming around and doing what japayukis are known for. the funny thing was, there were bars with pinoy names like boracay!
10. to me, one of the kamalasan was having a really bad photographer for a travel buddy. i wanted to have nice pics with the big Buddha, but all i got from mark were shots that had clouds covering the buddha entirely! whenever i tell him to include the scenery or some european or chinese architectural pieces in the background, all i got were pics that had only myself on it!
while that trip was really a waldasan session coz all items were expensive, i enjoyed it. it was a chance to learn how to be extremely patient with food attendants coz most of them do not understand any english. we also learned how to fully use maps and understand that other countries’ systems are way different from what we’re used to follow at home. of course, you need to really scour every store to get the best bargain possible and make sure that your haggling should start at hkd 30! i think i’ve had hk's best already. i won’t go back unless it’s for work or somebody will sponsor me.