Sunday, July 10, 2016

Skyscrapers Kissing the Sun

Look how fast time has passed! It's been a year since my father's hospital confinement. Caregiving has taken most of my time since then and I haven't posted anything. You can just imagine how I miss doing this!

This also means it has been that long since my family travelled to Hong Kong. That was July of 2015. The trip was intended as a post-birthday celebration for Ana Cristina, our youngest daughter. I may not have blogged about it but the 5-day vacation still has been taking me breathless as I dream of the skyscrapers forming the skyline of the city. I just couldn't stop looking at all the buildings during travels, be it by MTR, bus, cable car or a simple walk!

The Hong Kong skyline is truly amazing. It was my first time to appreciate this spectacular view of skyscrapers seemingly kissing the clouds as they reach out for the sun. Here we go!

Good morning, Hong Kong! This beautiful portrait of sunrise from our hotel room offered a pleasant welcome.
View from our hotel room 
Day 1: First in our schedule of activities was to review history, as recommended by Ana Cristina, the itinerary planner for this event. History... eeww! My most unfavorite subject in class. Taking off the MTR, we couldn't seem to find the street that would lead us to the Ping Shan Heritage Trail. No regrets though as I got this chance to savor the view of the tall buildings while my husband and daughters took the lead. See, I was busy gazing at the sky and clicking my camera but I was't very far behind.
Strolling down the sidewalk of Tin Fuk Road in search of the Ping Shan Heritage Trail

With our chinky eyes, I was sure we didn't look like tourists so we (I mean, I) believe, nobody had the slightest hunch that we felt lost (we went in and out the MTR Station three times) in our attempt to find the Heritage Trail. Hahaha, we finally found the entrance just beside the building where the MTR Station was located.

This point marks the beginning of the trail.
See the reference map which served as our guide.

From here, we walked towards what seemed like a community. We were not really sure if we were on the right track. Google map says we were along Ping Ha Road. We walked along this pond by the road.
I really don't know if this is part of the Lotus Pond of Miu Fat Buddhist Monastery.

I noticed these street signs. Tsui Sing Road and Sheung Cheung Wai.

Not far from the pond, there were altars and temples. 
Shrine of Earth God

The entrance gate of Sheung Cheung Wai
This is said to be the only traditional Chinese walled village left along the Ping Shan Heritage Trail. The enclosing wall has been demolished leaving behind the gatehouse, shrine and some old houses inside reflecting the original design.

Sheung Cheung Wai
Within the alleys between houses, there were altars.

The Yeung Hau Temple located in Hang Tau Tsuen
This temple, one of the six in Yuen Long, is dedicated to the deity of Emperor Hau Wong. The structure houses the statues of Hau Wong, To Tei (the Earth God) and Kam Fa (patron saint of expectant mothers). History also tells that the temple underwent several major renovations through the years. Emperor Hau Wong is believed to be a Song dynasty general who is worshipped for his loyalty and bravery by virtue of his heroism at having protected the last two Song emperors.

This was the farthest temple we saw. It was already noontime so you could imagine the sun spreading its scorching rays over us. We had to hurry to get some food and drink.

As we traced our way back to the MTR Station, I saw this view of tall buildings across the highway.

Now, I couldn't remember where we finally stopped to have lunch, after spending some time walking to and fro some streets, crossing pedestrian lanes, finding the best place to eat (meaning the most acceptable among the four of us and affordable, too).

After lunch we traversed some streets of Mong Kok. I recall having passed through Market Street and that gave me a feel of our local Baclaran or Divisoria when we reached the Ladies Market. I wasn't able to take photos. I wasn't feeling very well then. It must have been the heat or the flank pain, maybe both. I kept it to myself, lest I be charged of being KJ.

Part of the covered stairs leading to King's Park
Then I realized we seemed to have walked some distance under the heat of the sun when I gradually felt my head throbbing, especially after climbing the stairs to King's Park Garden where I was able to take this photo below.

From King's Park, we crossed Nathan Road. Walking a few blocks away, we found another temple where my husband and daughter took pictures of the facade. No wonder, the street was named Temple Street. Along the way, the street vendors were getting ready to set up for the night market.

Oh, look, very much Philippines eh!??

We took another MTR ride heading to Tsim Sha Tsui. Walked several blocks until we finally reached the Avenue of Stars. Oh, look at that!

A panoramic view of the Avenue of Stars

The famous Hong Kong skyline at Victoria Harbour. Credits to Ayana Grace for this photo.
Victoria Harbour up close
Here we lingered until early evening. We got a good view of the International Finance Center (IFC), 
a prominent landmark of Hong Kong. The IFC Tower 2 is the second tallest skyscraper in Hong Kong.  

We were not content with merely watching the Star Ferry cruising across the harbour. We had to have first hand experience, so hop on for a ride, that's exactly what we did. Come on now, tickets please!

After the ride it was perfect time to catch the spectacular HK Pulse 3D light show. 

That was just Day 1 in HK. Day 2 had more skyline to offer. On our way to buy tickets for the Ngong Ping 360 cable car adventure, I caught this view from afar. Zooooom and click! See now how I seriously love looking at skyscrapers!

Now look at the photo below! It called for a 180-degree head-turn as the cable car soared up, up and away! I couldn't seem to stop gazing at the Tung Chung Newtown skyscrapers as the cable car passed Tung Chung Bay. 

Of speeding boats and skyscrapers along Tung Chung Bay

The breathtaking cable car ride brought us to Ngong Ping Village in Lantau Island, where we climbed the 260-step stairs to the see the 34-meter tall bronze statue of Tian Tan Buddha (Big Buddah) sitting on top of the mountain. 

This Big Buddha statue, located near Po Lin Monastery, is a major center of Buddhism in Hong Kong and has become a popular tourist attaction. It symbolizes the harmonious relationship between man and nature; people and faith.

The statue is surrounded by the Six Devas, smaller bronze statues offering flowers, incense, lamp, ointment, fruit, and music to the Buddha. The offerings symbolize the six perfections of generosity, morality, patience, zeal, meditation and wisdom, all referred to as requirements for enlightenment.

 Three of the six Devas
I caught only three of the six devas. Sorry... not a very good one. There were many people taking photos of the statues that I was not successful at obtaining a clear view of them. 

The Cable Car Experience
Day 3 in Hong Kong catered to the child in me. To be honest I wasn't really excited to see Hong Kong Disneyland as I thought things of this sort are only for children. 

But then seeing this grandeous castle from afar seemed to have awakened the child's heart in me. I felt the excitement when I started taking photos of Disney characters and animated toys that I so enjoyed  the river cruise and train rides. 

We waited by the roadside for the Disney parade. Watching the magical Disney characters come to life and dance before my very eyes was like getting lost in the pages of my Classics Illustrated books which I have preserved for my kids to date.

The day didn't end after the parade. We still had time to join the very long queue of tourists who waited for the tram that brought us to The Peak Tower. 

Tourists on queue waiting for the tram door to open at The Peak Tram Lower Terminus

The Peak Tram Lower Terminus
We were not exempted from the long wait at the Peak Tram Lower Terminus in order to get a tram ride going to Victoria Peak (popularly known as The Peak), the highest mountain in Hong Kong island. It was already dark but the picturesque view of Hong Kong from The Peak at night with all the glitters from the skyscrapers has made this place a major tourist attraction. From this place, one can view Central, Victoria Harbour, Lamma Island and other surrounding islands.

Panoramic view of the city from The Peak

Day 4 allowed us to see more of the towering heights at Union Square, located at Austin Road West, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong. From where we were, I was able to get a glimpse of the world's 10th tallest building, also the tallest commercial building in Hong Kong (with 108 storeys)--- the International Commerce Centre (ICC).

The International Commerce Center (ICC)

I love this photo below! See how the reflection of the cloud on the building seem to join those appearing from behind! 
These are the Cullinan Towers, (with 68 storeys and 270 meters tall) HK's tallest residential buildings

The Arch (with 81 floors, 231 meters high) skyscraper in Union Square. 

The Arch is the 3rd tallest residential building in HK. I stood there gazing at this skyscraper consisting of four towers: Sun Tower, Star Tower, Moon Tower and Sky Tower. The arch is formed by the floors above the 69th floor that joins the Sun and Moon Towers.

Now these tall buildings caught my attention while traveling by bus to the airport. The airport!?? Oh, yes, the trip has finally come to its end. 

HK, till we meet again someday! By then, I'm certain, you have more and more skyscrapers to offer.  

Ooooppps... before I sign off, here are selfies of my family in selected places during our stay.

With ICC Tower at the background

At Disneyland Resort

At Ngong Ping Village

The cable car ride

Relaxing by the fountain at the Avenue of Stars

Victoria Harbour at the background

Till our next travel! Have a great week ahead!

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