Thursday, February 28, 2013

J Babies' Hong Kong Travel Guide

Some of my friends are planning trips to Hong Kong soon, and have been asking me to recommend places to visit. I am no Hong Kong expert, so I will just share where I went. It was a short 4 days for my friends and I, but we did manage to cover quite a few places which I think should not be missed. :)

1. Night Markets

I stayed at the Royal Plaza Hotel at Mongkok, and the location is pretty convenient because it's just above the Mongkok East MTR station. The hotel's still undergoing renovation, but most parts of it are ready. My friends and I decided to get a room with 2 king-sized beds so that we are all staying in the same room. The room's really nice because it's new and nicely furnished. Temple Street and Ladies' Street are within walking distance, so we spent our first night walking through the rowdy and vibrant night markets. It was really quite a treat, especially with a cool weather of about 18 degrees celsius. :) Night markets are a signature of Hong Kong, and you should never leave without visiting one. To my surprise, the stuffs sold there were quite nice, and of course very affordable. My first purchase in Hong Kong was a pair of high-cut canvas shoes that cost less than S$20!

2. Stanley

Stanley happened to be my favourite place in Hong Kong because it is not as crowded as main Hong Kong city itself. You need to take a bus to Stanley via a really narrow two-way road. But at Stanley, you get to see the beautiful sea and everything seems to slow down. Plus, there is the Stanley Market where you can stroll through and see if you want to buy anything. We noticed an abundance of children's wear shops, so you can leave the place with bags and bags of clothes for your kids.

We spent quite a bit of time at the beach because the view was just so serene and breath-taking. I love to visit such places on a vacation because it totally relaxes my mind.

3. Victoria's Peak

Truth be told, there is nothing to do on the peak. But if you've never been there, you should at least make a trip there once. Most people take the tram up to the peak because it would be insane to attempt to go up via the stairs. Tram tickets are available one-way too, so I reckon some people choose to go up by tram and come down by the stairs. I am very sure 90% regret that decision by halfway mark. =P

We reached the Peak Tram station at 4pm+, and the station was so crowded. We had to wait in queue for about 30 minutes before it was our turn to board the tram.

At the peak, you get really pretty views of the skyline of Hong Kong. You can opt to pay a higher price to get access to the top of the peak, but we were pretty happy to have the view at a slightly lower ground. They looked gorgeous enough.

We managed to catch the sunset which was over in a split second. It's a strike off our must-do-list in Hong Kong.

Errmmm.. that's about all you can do at the peak. =P

4. Open-Top Double Decker Bus Ride

We didn't plan to do this, but it so happened that the bus from the Peak Tram station to our next destination was an open-top double-decker bus! It was  such a delight riding on the top deck of the bus, with the cold wind blowing into our faces and all the pretty city lights everywhere. I think everyone should do this in Hong Kong - It was way too awesome.

Baby Jayne was intrigued too. :)

Caught this cute moment between Papa Isaiah & Baby Jayne. =P

5. Symphony of Lights

The Symphony of Lights happens every night at 8pm in Hong Kong. I thought it's such a brilliant idea - Merging light performances with symphonic music. The light performances are created by the silhouettes of different skyscrapers of Hong Kong skyline. The best viewing locations of this nightly spectacle are along the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront between the Avenue of Stars and the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, the promenade at Golden Bauhinia Square in Wanchai, and from sightseeing ferries in the Victoria Harbour. Best of all, it is completely free-of-charge. Of course, that also meant that the crowds can be quite scary. We took a Stars Ferry ride from Hong Kong island to Tsim Sha Tsui, which is a common public transportation used by the locals everyday. That's a nice Hong Kong experience too. :)

6. Avenue Of Stars

When we visited the Avenue of Stars on our final day in Hong Kong, it was really warm. The temperature was still cool but the sun was blazing.

Saw a super cute Chinese junk boat!

Hubby saw the handprints of his favourite Canto singer - Sam Hui!

7. Mid-Levels Escalator System

The Central – Mid-Levels Escalator system, is the world's longest outdoor covered escalator system, stretching for over 800-metres and rising 135-metres through the streets of a steep hillside linking these districts of Hong Kong Island. It was opened in October 1993, having cost HK$245 million to build, six times the original estimate. The system is not a single continuous escalator but a series of 20 escalators and 3 inclined moving walkways, connected in places by footbridges, and with 14 entrances and exits. To ride the complete length of the escalator system one-way takes about 20 minutes. Hubby wanted to go see the escalators because he saw it in 'Running Man'... =P Turned out to be quite interesting. The slopes were so steep it's amazing. But I guess that was the reason why the escalators were built in the first place.

Image from

Top view from the escalators.. :)

Check out this interesting stretch of stone road with steps carved into the ground so that it is not slippery.

Baby Jayne had fun walking up and down the interesting slope...

That pretty much sums up my 4 days in Hong Kong (Ocean Park included and covered in an earlier post). Hopefully it can be a nice reference when you are planning your own itinerary. My next few posts will focus on other food & delicacies you should not miss when in Hong Kong. My first Hong Kong food post was on dim sum here.

I think Hong Kong is an awesome place to visit. :)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Mum's Diary: The School Bus Saga

Transiting to Primary One is a big deal for kids. It's the beginning of formal education in Singapore and for many of the kids, it's their first encounter with serious and intensive studying. Apart from the kid feeling the stress and heat, the parents usually get stressed up and nervous as well, especially if it's the first time for them. I started this series to document the chronological order of events, my intimate thoughts and emotions on this journey, and it will continue until Joey settles down in Primary One. Hopefully, as we go along, the posts would become more and more positive and encouraging. I do believe in that. :)

26 February 2013

While I was in Hong Kong, a very scary saga happened at home.

I received a whatsapp message from my mother-in-law at about 7pm, telling me to contact the school bus because she was slightly late at picking up my daughter and when she reached the pick-up point, she saw the bus leave but my daughter did not alight. She thought that the school bus was going to make a detour and come back again so she waited for 30 minutes before messaging me.

I panicked because I didn't bring the school bus company's contact along with me to Hong Kong! But thank God, hubby reminded me that I had called the company some time the previous week and it could still be in my phone's log. Found it, called the company and they contacted the school bus, only to tell me the news that totally freaked me out: They had alighted my daughter more than half an hour ago at 6.35pm.

How could it be so??? My MIL didn't see my daughter! Where could she be??!! I screamed over the phone at the bus company, asking them how could they be so irresponsible to alight a 7-year-old girl by the roadside?? Are they going to be held responsible if my daughter went missing?? The lady explained that my daughter had told them to let her alight, because her grandmother told her that in case of any emergency when she didn't turn up to pick her, she was to take the lift home and wait for her. I got even more furious hearing that - "HOW COULD YOU LISTEN TO WHAT A KID TELLS YOU??? SHE'S ONLY SEVEN YEARS OLD, FOR GOODNESS SAKE!!!" I think my friends who were with me on the trip had never seen such a hysterical me before. =P

We quickly called my MIL, and asked her to go back home. Those few minutes of waiting for her to rush home felt sooooooooooo long. I think my face was white and I totally hyperventilated.

Thankfully, my daughter was indeed back home. She took the lift by herself and realising that she didn't have the home keys with her, decided to play with our neighbour instead. It was a big scare for all of us, but we were just glad she was okay. I immediately tried to Facetime with her, but the connection was very bad. Even so, I managed to catch a glimpse of her face (really tired and sweaty though) and it helped calm my nerves a little.

When I got back from Hong Kong, I understood the whole story from Joey. Apparently, my MIL had prepared her that in case anything cropped up, and she was late to pick her up, she was not to be afraid. She should ask the bus lady to bring her across the road and she could take the lift up the our home and wait there. So that was what she did. But because she could only remember my mobile number and did not want to call me since I was in Hong Kong (thinking it would cost a bomb, this poor girl), she could not call anyone else and could only just wait (and play with my neighbour's kid). My mother-in-law saw the school bus leave but did not see Joey, so she assumed she was still on the bus, when in actual fact, she had walked so fast and was probably back at our block already by then. It was a huge saga that freaked out all of us, and it definitely spoilt that night in Hong Kong for me. My heart was pounding so fast the entire night. Sigh

I took school bus when I was in Primary One too - How come I didn't have such problems last time??!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hong Kong Ocean Park

I totally behaved like an excited hyperactive kid when I stepped foot on Ocean Park. It's a place I've always wanted to go but don't know why I never got to. With Baby Jayne on this trip, it was too valid a reason to finally go there. Apart from the wonderful and joyous holiday mood in the air, our theme park experience at the Ocean Park was amazing because the weather was nice and cool, and there was practically no queues at all! It would be a big dampener if we had to queue for hours at every ride. The crowds only started to pour in in the late afternoon when we were about to leave. Perfecto.

This is possibly the only fun part of our Hong Kong trip for Baby Jayne, since the rest of it was walking the streets and eating, non of which interests her much. =P

The park's pretty huge, and we only covered the new sections while we were there. BFF looked very excited because she can't wait to get on those only-crazy-people-would-ride roller coasters. I can faint just looking at them.

Near the entrance was a huge stage where performances were taking place. It was still the Lunar New Year period, so the performances were all celebrating the occasion. The drum performance was very impressive through - Love the energy and vibrancy in the place.

Meet the legendary cable cars. They looked so cute all round and plump.

Love this Old Hong Kong street section of the park, where there were old vintage buildings, and sale of childhood snacks.

The 1st ride we took was extremely child friendly - The carousel! Baby Jayne got put onto a pretty high seahorse, which explained the look of horror on her face.

Eventually, we had to change to a more height-friendly horse because the staff warned us that the seahorse was not suitable for Baby Jayne. =P

Then it's cable car time! We had to take it all the way to the top of the hill where all the scary rides were.

Admittedly, I was a little scared from such a height, especially when the windows could be slid open. Baby Jayne was unfazed and kept wanting to stick out her hand through those grilles! I almost hyperventilated.

I tried to concentrate instead on the gorgeous views outside.

I thought this was such a classic sight of Ocean Park - something I would remember for years to come. :)

Upon alighting from the cable car, my crazy friends started their crazy roller-coaster hopping journey. The rest of us watched.

And ate ice cream.

This was the ultimate fright for me - I was not even on it. Just looking at it was scary enough.

Yes, it went all the way up there and came down the other way. Crazy or what???

Apparently, my friends thought it was great fun.

Back to more child-friendly stuffs, we visited the penguin enclosure where we met cute penguins.

Then we took the sky tower ride. The views were lovely. :)

So serene and calm.

After my crazy friends got too giddy from all the rides, we went easy for the rest of the time in Ocean Park and let Baby Jayne play in the Whiskers Harbour.

We took the mini train ride that went so slow I nearly fell asleep. Baby Jayne liked it though.

And we took the Hong Kong flyer.

Before leaving the park, we bought a soft toy each for Baby Jayne & Joey. Really soft & fluffy, and surprisingly not expensive!

The big penguin with pink jacket is for Joey, and costs less than $30!

Love Ocean Park! =)

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