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Feeling nostalgic in Hong Kong
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I used to go to Hong Kong at least three times a year, I even had a Hong Kong frequent visitor card. Sadly, that card has expired.
Ever since I got my multiple-entry Japan visa, I just stopped going to Hong Kong regularly. As my cousin would say, Japan is the new Hong Kong.
I had not been to Hong Kong for more than a year. I had to go this year because of a medical checkup required by my dad’s bank. The trip was sponsored and timely because I’ve been feeling lonely ever since my son left for China to study for six weeks. I figured, five days in Hong Kong will help pass the time till my son is back.
I decided to stay at Gateway Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui because two years ago my friend Penny recommended it. She said the bathrooms were Penny-approved and most likely chuva-approved. She was right. I absolutely loved the bathroom!! This was on the Club Floor by the way, Room 1421.

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My friend Rem and I had shared a room with two beds. This was my bed. Interiors very mainstream but I can’t complain because the aircon is cold and the bathroom is great!!

Gateway Hotel

Gateway is a great place to stay if you have only a few days because the hotel is connected to the mall. Take the elevator to the 2nd floor and you’re right smack inside Harbour City Mall with a bridgeway to Silvercord Mall.
This is where my grandparents used to stay when they were alive and where we’ve been shopping since I was a kid, with its low ceiling and constantly changing brands/shops.

Harbour City

I feel very sentimental about this place, particularly Tsim Sha Tsui. Many years ago, this was the happy place of our parents and grandparents—the love of which their generation has passed on to my generation.
Hong Kong is a mere 90 minutes by plane from Manila. Even for someone who hates flying, this isn’t bad at all. We had the smoothest Cathay Pacific flight, by the way.
I wasn’t close to my maternal grandfather, but I can feel his spirit around. I know he loved this place.

Canton Road

For some reason, I think of my Lola Paying when I ride the ferry because she also loved Hong Kong. I wonder if she liked the ferry too.

Hong Kong ferry
Hong Kong ferry

I didn’t get to shop that much, but that’s OK. I still have clothes with tags from my Tokyo trip last September. I did buy that small Globetrotter from Lane Crawford I’ve been eyeing for years. I can finally afford it.

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A trip to Hong Kong is never complete without a meal at La Vache!, which serves the best steak and fries in Hong Kong

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and the best “unsweet” chocolate cake!

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The neighborhood

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Elgin Street
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It’s always good to see friends in Hong Kong, like James Acuña and Alexandra Seno who we met at Second Draft.

2nd Draft

Really liked the fried chicken and grilled squid!

2nd Draft
IMG_20161110_192817James and Alex

Couldn’t help but notice Jack the bartender/barista who is half-man, half-Schnauzer

Jack at 2nd Draft

As for my checkup, it went really well. I came home with a clean bill of health. I had a great relaxing trip, and I love Hong Kong all over again.

Cecile van Straten

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Tried & Tested: Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong
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Sorry, I just got back from Hong Kong—am sick—and have lots of work to do.
The trip was planned way back in November when I got invited to Art Basel Hong Kong.
This time I chose to stay with my hubby at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental (LMO) in Central.
Didn’t know what to expect, but I’m a lucky girl, so we got upgraded to the Deluxe L600 room on the top floor.
This was the anteroom

Deluxe L600

that opens up to the living room. Jeroen and I enjoyed this couch very much. We had delicious naps here.

Deluxe L600

On the left is a work desk that we used mainly as a charging station and tambakan ng snacks, papers, etc. 🙂

Deluxe L600

Bed was OK. Sheets can be softer, but Jeroen loved the pillows. So happy there was an electric outlet near the bed, for my laptop.

Bed

Okay, here’s the thing about the room: it is all about the bathroom!! There’s a rounded partition that separates the bathroom from the guest room. It reminds me of an airplane fitting

Bathroom

The bathroom can be accessed through the bedroom and the living room. At night, it looks like a movie set.

Bathroom

Jeroen liked the Frette bathrobes. This way to the shower

Bathroom

The shower is fantastic, although I had a small accident when I opened the shower for the first time—didn’t know the hand shower was facing me and I got all wet!!

Bathroom

Because I was sick, I didn’t get to use the giant bathtub, which I regret because 15 years ago, I wanted a bathtub just like this. *sigh*

Bathroom

On the left counter is where I put makeup on

Bathroom

There were two lavatories

Bathroom

and the most amazing amenities drawer. Love the packaging!!

Bathroom

Sorry I forgot to take a picture of the toilet. It was in a separate stall and perfect.
What I loved: the hotel slippers

Hotel slippers

As usual, I overpacked for a four-day trip, but neglected to bring a spring coat and neck warmer, so I got sick.
Closets with lots of hangers are a must

Closet

I love my bag

Closet

Thanks Jeroen for coming along. Every trip with you is a honeymoon.

Jeroen

Other notes on the LMO:
1) Customer service is excellent. From the bellhops who call your taxi and take your bags to the room, to the people at front desk, and the servers who bring room service—service is A++++.
2) Unfortunately, I did not like the room service. The chicken rice was malansa—what is this word in English? Although Jeroen loved the nasi goreng, which he ordered twice.
3) Location is right next to the Landmark—a mall that doesn’t interest me. The nearest drugstore (Mannings) and grocery (Marketplace) are too far for. I do not like the brands in this mall, and I don’t like the food (too fancy).
4) The best part: Comme des Garçons is right around the corner at Ice House Street, and COS is not too far at Queens Road.
5) Hotel is very near the MTR Station.

http://www.mandarinoriental.com/landmark/

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New Year at Hong Kong Disneyland
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It’s our third time to stay at the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel. First in 2009, followed by 2011 and 2014.
From The Upper House, we hired a Hi-Ace van to take our party of six + tons of luggage to the hotel.
We arrived at 2 PM and had to kill time for an hour before checking in at 3 PM. The boys spent that hour in the labyrinth, while I checked out the Disney store at the hotel.

HK Disneyland Hotel lawn

We had two connecting rooms on the 5th floor with a view of the lawn, and amazing how everything looks the same.
The rooms and bathrooms are well-maintained, except my standards have changed. I can no longer stand small bathrooms and shower curtains.

HK Disneyland Hotel
HK Disneyland Hotel
HK Disneyland Hotel

Amenities exactly still the same in 2009

Toiletries, HK Disneyland Hotel

and 2014

HK Disneyland Hotel

Here are our two rooms. My bed was delicious

HK Disneyland Hotel
HK Disneyland Hotel

The furniture is purposely old-fashioned

HK Disneyland Hotel
HK Disneyland Hotel

There were invitations to the New Year countdown at the hotel

HK Disneyland Hotel

The boys spent the afternoon playing basketball.

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I love this place. I specifically asked for a room fronting the lawn because I miss Baguio.

HK Disneyland Hotel lawn
HK Disneyland Hotel

Redrum. Redrum.

HK Disneyland Hotel

I love the cold air and the quiet, and I love taking delicious naps in the middle of the day. I love napping in cold weather more than anything.
That night, on New Year’s Eve, we had dinner at the hotel’s Enchanted Garden Restaurant. It was a bit expensive and we had to prepay in advance.
The place was packed and the spread looked fantastic.

Buffet

Look at this cheese

cheese

Some of the food looked cartoony. I have only seen this kind of ham in comic books

Ham
ham

I don’t eat ham, but the sight of it really felt festive. It made me miss my Dad back home.
After dinner we took the shuttle to the park and hit the rides.

Rides
Rides

At 9 PM we watched the fireworks. That plus the cold weather, being with my boys, and the magical Disney music brought tears to my eyes.

HK Disneyland

We had a nice long walk back to the hotel, and just plopped into bed with no intention to go down for the countdown. So at 12 midnight, the only boys awake—Jeroen and Ben—kissed me happy new year, and at 12:01 I closed my eyes and woke up in 2015.

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Tried and tested: reliable family transport in Hong Kong
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Traveling with kids is no joke, especially if you’re not used to traveling light like me.
If you’re going to Hong Kong with kids and lots of luggage, taking the Airport Express might not be the best option for you. Here are some tried and tested transportation companies I used during our recent trip:

1) Hong Kong Shuttle
From Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) to The Upper House, I booked a shuttle in advance through Hong Kong Shuttle.
Fare for six people cost only US$114. Just because I didn’t want to put all of us through the hassle of lugging 7 pieces of luggage and more on the Airport Express.
We arrived at HKIA at 11 AM and had time for a quick bite at McDonald’s before taking the shuttle at 12 noon.
The bus brought us straight to The Upper House and was comfy enough that most of us fell asleep during the ride.

HK airport shuttle

2) Uber XL
Cabs in Hong Kong will only take four passengers at most. So for our party of six, it was either split up in two cabs, or get an Uber XL. I’m so glad my friend James told me about it, because Uber XL does not exist in Manila.
Uber is life-changing transport booked through the Uber app on your phone. (In Manila, sign up using my promo code and get Php 200 off your first ride)
In Hong Kong, the Uber XL option appears under Uber Black. Hong Kong is teeming with vans, so it’s not difficult to book one. Our Uber ride from Upper House to Causeway Bay (in a super cool van) cost HK$84.

Uber XL
Uber receipt
Ubering in Hong Kong

3) City Cabs
Used this from The Upper House (HK side) to Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel. Found it through the website and called them up at 11:30 PM to make a booking (they are open 24 hours). I got a text confirmation, and the following day we were picked up at the hotel.
Take note, the Hi-Ace van that picked us up didn’t look anything like this.

City Cabs HK

The van we had was old and cramped, but everything fit, the driver was nice, and it did its job. The 30-minute ride cost HK$650. We booked this again from HK Disneyland Hotel to the airport and the 20-minute ride cost HK$450.
Cramped, but hassle-free.

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