Shanghai; where the East meets West

“So how do we get to our hotel from here?”, asked my niece, Wanda, upon arriving the Shanghai Pudong International Airport last November. Wanda had always wanted to follow me overseas and I said she could follow me to Shanghai under few conditions; partly pay her flight tickets and have her own pocket-money as this auntie was broke. Luckily she works to support her study, while having her own money to buy what she wants. Very independent girl.

“Ha, ha, I have no idea! I thought you did the research on how to get there?” I asked back. “Haha, I did not. Been busy with my A Level exam, remember?” was her reply.

We apparently had not done any research on the ground transportation in Shanghai. So both of us went around the airport looking for a way to get to our accommodation at Zhizaoju Road, Luwan District, Shanghai. We saw that the Maglev train would cost us ¥50 each, so I decided that we should take the cab. I was lazy to go through the hassle to get on the train and then get  on a bus to a place that is unknown to me; I mean how do I know where to get off? Taking a cab is much easier anywhere in the world as all I need to do is get in the cab, hand over the printed address to the driver, sit back and relax, and enjoy the view.

We arrived at the hotel about an hour later with ¥140 poorer. That’s RM70, and I thought it was not bad after all as I had to pay the same from Ampang to KLIA.

We were both very tired and the room was not ready even when I requested for an early check-in. We had to wait for about half an hour for the hotel to clean a room for us and we got to the room, it was not even like what was shown on the internet. Talk about ‘for illustration’ purpose only!! I should have known better. That would had not been the case if I had the money to stay in one of the hotels under the moonlit sky with many stars on the other side of the river in the heart of the city. This hotel that I booked was shining dimly under a couple of stars. I was broke, I certainly could not lavish on anything above than that.

I could see the disappointment on Wanda’s face but I told her that we wouldn’t be spending much time in the room as we would be out the whole day for 5 days. We just need a place to dump our things and beds to sleep at night.

The main reason for the trip was for me to attend Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair (CCBF) for 3 days and the other 2 days for us to explore Shanghai.

On the day we arrived, we slept until 3pm and decided to go out to find something to eat. It was cold and windy and we had no idea where to go. From Zhizaoju Road to Xietu Road, then Mengzi Road, then across Xujiahui Road to arrive at Madang Road Station.

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walkluwan3Top two photos were taken around 4.30pm while the bottom one around 5.40pm. 5.40 was like 8pm already.

It was around 4pm but it was getting dark because hours of daylight are getting shorter with the onset of autumn. We thought of taking the train to Shanghai City Center but then scrapped the idea as we would be having the same problem of finding a place to eat at the city as we did not have a map or guide of places to eat; in our case the halal ones. So, we just walked aimlessly out of the station to Madang Road. We walked about 10 minutes before we saw a bakery shop, and a sushi restaurant few doors away. We bought some breads for later and had Udon noodles, Shrimp Spring Rolls, Chinese tea at the sushi restaurant.

udon

We did not even know the name of the restaurant; we asked but the waitress replied back in Chinese. Luckily the menu was in English/Chinese. So we knew what to eat. Phew. Oh, the place seemed to have WiFi and once again we had a problem asking for the password. I just handed the phone to the cook (who went out for the kitchen to help us as the waitress had no idea what we were asking about) to type the password. Voila! We were connected back to the world known to us; Instagram for me and WeChat/Whatsapp for Wanda!! I posted some photos while eating. One must be wondering how on earth did I got on Instagram as it was blocked a month earlier following a protest in Hong Kong. A ‘little bird’ told me to install an app from Google Play before I leave for Shanghai and so I did. And that led me to share photos of beautiful Shanghai with Instagram friends.

On the second day, we went to the CCBF located at Shanghai World Expo Exhibition & Convention Center, Guo Zhan Road by cab.

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The second edition of the CCBF was held from 20 to 22 November was a feast of children’s publications for industry professionals and young readers to enjoy. Supported by the official Chinese publishing-related bodies, the 2014 CCBF offered a rich agenda of activities and opportunities to meet key players at all levels of the publishing industry with the aim of stimulating international rights trading, opening up new sales and distribution channels for children’s publications and, ultimately, expanding partnerships in the global market. I met with a Chinese publisher to show some of the work done for their future books and quickly got the deal. It will be launched in Singapore around May 2015.

After the book fair we went to the River Mall located across the road. We thought of looking for a place to eat but could not find any suitable ones, so we headed back to the hotel. After taking shower, we walked around the hotel to look for something to eat. We were always hungry as we walked a lot and that the weather was cold. We found Carrefour Express few blocks away from the hotel and guess what we found? Mamee Chef!!! We we laughing like crazy all the way to our room.

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With a full tummy, we got ourselves connected to the Internet afterwards to keep up with home and to upload photos. And then slept. I woke up around 5am and stared on the ceiling. Used the time to draw some.

It was the same routine the next day and we went to the book fair. I did some side income there drawing for people. Sold some of my painted bags as well. Within few hours I became ¥500 richer.

After the book fair, we went back to the hotel to keep my drawing tools and then took a cab to the Old City of Shanghai. We paid ¥14 as the old town is situated on the same side of the river. Our main transportation here was cab as we do not want to get lost and spend our time finding our ways around. It was an ideal choice for an old aunt and her niece.

oldcityOur photo was photo-bombed by this Pakistani couple. LOL.

The Old City is the area inside the ancient walled city of Shanghai; it is one of the most picturesque areas of the city, with many buildings in traditional Chinese style. The city began as a walled medieval town at least 1000 years ago. The walls, built mainly for protection against Japanese pirates, ringed the city around what are today Remin and Zhonghua Roads. The walls however, have been demolished.

We bought something for people at home as well as something four ourselves; Cheongsams to wear on the last day of the book fair. It costs me ¥340 for both cheongsams! And I was broke again. Anyway, I made same plan again for the last day of the book fair and thought I could be rich again if I draw more. We discussed and wished that we could make around the same amount or maybe a bit more.

It was around 9pm that we decided we spent enough. We hailed a cab but was not successful. One cab asked for ¥50 but knowing that the fair was much cheaper, we decided to walk out from the area a bit. We walked pass a market and to the main road.

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After unsuccessful waiting for half an hour and being overtook by some locals, we decided to cross the road and quickly got ourselves a cab.

viewfrompbView from the pedestrian bridge.

Come the last day of the book fair, our wish came true. I made ¥1200!! Yippee! It was a great experience as I had never done that before. I should be doing that a lot to cover my travel cost, kan? But seriously, it was tiring. I took a break few times and told the people that I will be back in half an-hour but before it was even half an-hour, they were already queueing.

medrawAll these were sold. I was out of paper!

We set aside for our fare to airport and spent the remaining to visit Tianzifang and The Bund on our last day in Shanghai.

Tianzifang is a renovated residential area in the French Concession area of Shanghai, China. Also known for small craft stores, coffee shops, trendy art studios and narrow alleys, the place has become a popular tourist destination in Shanghai, and an example of preservation of local Shikumen architecture.

Tianzifang is largely hidden from the neighbouring streets, as it grew from the inside of the block outward and has more than 200 diverse small businesses such as cafes, bars, restaurants, art galleries, craft stores, design houses and studios, and even French bistros.

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The Bund is a waterfront area in central Shanghai. The area centres on a section of Zhongshan Road (East-1 Zhongshan Road) within the former Shanghai International Settlement, which runs along the western bank of the Huangpu River, facing Pudong, in the eastern part of Huangpu District.

The word “bund” means an embankment or an embanked quay. The word comes from the Persian word band, through Hindustani, meaning an embankment, levee or dam (a cognate of English terms “bind”, “bond” and “band”, and the German word “Bund”.

The Bund houses 52 buildings of various architectural styles, generally Eclecticist, but with some buildings displaying predominantly Romanesque Revival, Gothic Revival, Renaissance Revival, Baroque Revival, Neo-Classical or Beaux-Arts styles, and a number in Art Deco style.

bundWanda walking at The Bund.

bund2Shanghai buildings seen from The Bund.

bund3One of the classic buildings at The Bund.

We were both tired from walking and decided to go back to the hotel around 5pm. We had a rest before walking again to the sushi restaurant. We packed our things to leave for home the next day.

We took a cab to the nearest Maglev station, had coffee, paid ¥100 for the Maglev ride, reached the airport in 10 minutes!, checked-in, had lunch and coffee again, walked to the security area and boarded the flight. And that wrapped our trip in Shanghai.

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Shanghai, till we meet again.  Zài huì!

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Hong Kong: Excursion to the City Part Two

After boarding off the ferry, we crossed the street and took a taxi in front of the hotel. Haniff asked the hotel lobby attendant if it is okay for us to take a taxi there. He said ok and called a taxi for us. A woman taxi driver pulled over and the attendant told her to take us. The lady seemed angry but nonetheless, drove on. Haniff explained that although Hong Kong’s economy is booming, there are still over a million of people live in poverty. Housing prices and food are becoming more and more expensive and they can barely make ends meet and that is why some of them always look angry.

When we arrived at our destination, all of us said thank you to the lady. She seemed OK a bit (not angry) but still not smiling. So yeah, we were happy about it.

Eh, did I mentioned where we were going just now? No? Hehe. Ok, Destination; Johnston Road. Wan Chai! We went for shopping!

Well actually, for those who know Hong Kong, the jetty is actually located in Wan Chai; Wan Chai North. ;P

WanChai
Johnston Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong Island.

Wan Chai is a metropolitan area situated at the western part of the Wan Chai District on the northern shore of Hong Kong Island. Wan Chai is one of the busiest commercial areas in Hong Kong with many small and medium-sized companies. Wan Chai North features office towers, parks, hotels and an international conference and exhibition centre. As one of the first areas developed in Hong Kong, the area is densely populated.

Yassin and me in Wan Chai
One for the album; Yassin and me posing amidst the busy city.

So we went shopping at Johnston Road; one of the major streets in the area that is famous for shopping that offers some of the best value in Hong Kong.

Johnston Road was named after Alexander Robert Johnston, the British Deputy Superintendent of Trade during the First Opium War. The road is built on the margin of the oldest building cluster in Wan Chai. Many Hong Kong residents are trying to preserve the old buildings and trees from redevelopment. The century old transport Hong Kong Tramways goes through the road with its first service opening in 1904.

Johnston Road
I stucked here for hours; buying bags, magnets and many more. It has everything that I want to buy, seriously!

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Yassin got a pressie from Uncle Kanep from the toys shop. 

After-shopping
Another shot at Johnston Road before we leave. That was our catch of the day, more in my backpack.

After shopping, we said goodbye to Haniff as he had to attend a dinner with his wife.

“Where to go next, Rayyan?” I asked Rayyan. “How about we take the tram and go to the Central side?” I agreed and off we went!

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Rayyan and Sara happy to board the tram!

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Yassin and me in the tram.

The tram system is one of the earliest forms of public transport in Hong Kong dated back in 1904.  Since then, trams have been running from East to West of Hong Kong Island. Over the last century, Hong Kong Tramways witnessed the development of Hong Kong, and the tram remains an efficient and the most economical mode of public transport in Hong Kong. Today, Hong Kong Tramways carries a daily average of 230,000 passengers. It is the world’s largest fleet of double-deck tramcars still in service.

So, we reached Central and saw these!

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Skycrapers!

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And more skycrapers!

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And more photos! 

Central is a big area with lot of shopping malls around. Most of the items are too expensive. There are so many shops;  from brand names to no name brands. We did not buy anything here except for fish burger and Coca-cola because we were famished. We actually went to Central simply to set foot there and tell people, “Hey, we’ve been there.”

While walking to find the MTR station to go back to Lantau Island, Rayyan said, “Kak Em, did you noticed how friendly the people in this area? Take example the man who asked us just know where we we from..” “Ha-a…yup”, I said. We both went into silence and I believe we have the same thought that financially secured people living in the big central business district tend to be happier, not angry. Hence politer.

 

Reference:

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wan_Chai
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central,_Hong_Kong
  • http://www.hktramways.com/en/

 

 

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Hong Kong: Excursion to the city Part One

It was great visiting Hong Kong Disneyland but I felt that it was not complete if I did not visit the city. So, as planned prior to leaving, I made appointment with a Malaysian friend, Haniff, to take us (me, my son Yassin, Rayyan and his sister Sara) around the city. Although it was short, we enjoyed it.

We met my friend, Haniff at Tsim Sha Tsui Jetty on our 2nd last day in Hong Kong. It was all confusing and we boarded off the MTR at East Tsim Sha Tsui. According to the MTR map, Tsim Sha Tsui is quite near but somehow we got lost and found ourselves wandering the street. Haha… I am really not good in direction. Lost and me are so synonymous.

We walked around 45 minutes to reach the place. I think we took the long way there. Nonetheless, we had fun taking pictures during our walk.

A street in Hong Kong
A street we were at after getting out of the east station.

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Yassin with his Chinese hat posing in front of 1881 Heritage located at the square of Victorian-era Hong Kong, Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon.

Heritage Hotel, Kowloon
Heritage Hotel, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon.

From the 1880s to 1996, this was the headquarters of the Hong Kong Marine Police. Several buildings and artefacts of historical interest have been preserved and restored, and the site now features a shopping mall, a heritage hotel, and an exhibition hall.

Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. Following British rule from 1842 to 1997, China assumed sovereignty under the ‘one country, two systems’ principle. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s constitutional document, the Basic Law, ensures that the current political situation will remain in effect for 50 years. The rights and freedoms of people in Hong Kong are based on the impartial rule of law and an independent judiciary.

Hong or He?ng góng in Cantonese, means fragrant harbour.

After walking and walking, we finally reached the jetty area. We were an hour late and Haniff was already there waiting for us. He told us a bit about Hong Kong and took us on a Star Ferry ride to Wan Chai, which is located at Hong Kong Island. We paid HKD2.50 each.

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Two happy lads about to board on a ferry.

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Yassin and Uncle Kanep ( he’s been calling Haniff that since he was little).

From the ferry, we got to see interesting buildings. Haniff did explained which building is what but I didn’t wrote them all down and forgot about it but I did pay attention about the HKCC building because of its interesting shape.

Foggy HK Island
It was foggy at 4pm.

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Hong Kong Island buildings seen from Kowloon.

The size of Hong Kong Island is only 80 Square Kilometers, but it is the heart of Hong Kong. Although it is small, it is the place that many tourists regard as the main focus. The parade of buildings that make the Hong Kong skyline has been likened to a glittering bar chart that is made apparent by the presence of the waters of Victoria Harbour.

The Central area on the island is the historical, political and economic centre of Hong Kong. The northern coast of the island forms the southern shore of the Victoria Harbour, which is largely responsible for the development of Hong Kong due to its deep waters favoured by large trade ships.

The island is often referred to locally as “Hong Kong side” or “Island side”. This style was formerly applied to many locations (e.g. ‘China-side’ or even ‘Kowloon Walled City-side’) but is now only heard in this form and ‘Kowloon side’, suggesting the two sides of the harbour.

Hong Kong Convention Center.
Hong Kong Convention Center situated at Victoria Harbour.

The Hong Kong Convention Center above was designed by architect Marshall Strabala, based on the idea of a seabird with its wings as the cantilevering roof this building juts out into Hong Kong harbour. It was extended in 1997 and hosts international conferences and conventions, film shows, concerts, banquets, corporate events, press conferences and seminars.

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View of Kowloon seen from Hong Kong Island.

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Wan Chai Jetty. That was the ferry we boarded.

So that was our fun ride from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island.

So where did Haniff took us after this? Stay tune for the 2nd part!

 

 

Reference: 

  • http://www.e-architect.co.uk/hong_kong/hong_kong_convention_centre.htm
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hong_Kong
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hong_Kong_Island

 

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Top 8 Tips on planning your first trip to Hong Kong Disneyland


I have been asked by few friends to share tips on how to plan the first trip to Hong Kong Disneyland. Here are my Top 8 tips I crafted from my experience for planning a Disneyland vacation, and related link to assist you:

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1. Read information about the resortHong Kong Disneyland is located on reclaimed land in Penny’s Bay, Lantau Island. The park consists of six themed areas: Main Street, U.S.A., Fantasyland, Adventureland, Tomorrowland, Grizzly Gulch and Toy Story Land. There are two themed hotels in the area: Disneyland Hotel and Disney’s Hollywood Hotel.

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Disneyland Hotel.

2. Where to stay – It is advisable that you stay at either Disneyland Hotel or Disney’s Hollywood Hotel for easy access to the parks. Shuttle bus is provided free to the parks. Click on hotel link to find out more about the room rates.

 

 tickets

3. How to get the tickets – If you stay at the above hotels, you can get the Room and 2-Day Ticket Package. Check out hotel offer to learn more. Else you can book 1-Day or 2-Day tickets online.

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4. Disneyland Transportation – Hong Kong Disneyland is located on Lantau Island, and is accessible via an array of convenient transportation options. From the airport you can take taxi for HKD100 (four passengers). If you want to experience the MTR, take the Airport Express. Buy tickets for four at a discounted rate of HKD150. Get down at Tsing Yi and take the orange line to Sunny Bay. From SunnyBay, take the pink line to Disneyland. Alternatively you can take a bus from the airport to Tung Chung for HKD3.80 for adult and HKD1.50 for a child (concessionary). Buy tickets to Disneyland at Tung Chung station at HKD13.50 for adult and HKD6.00 for a child (concessionary). From Tung Chung you have to get down at Sunny Bay and take the train to Disneyland.

You do the math and see which is cheaper.

 pancakes

5. Disneyland Dining Plan – For Muslim,  Halal food is available at both hotels upon request and if you are not around the hotel, look for Tahitian Terrace located at Adventureland. Tahitian Terrace serves Singaporean Laksa Rice Noodle Soup, Black Lentil Set, Roasted Lemongrass Chicken Steak with Rice, Penang Fish Curry with Rice and Penang Fish Curry with Rice. All food served here are certified by The Incorporated Trustees of The Islamic Community Fund of Hong Kong.

Alternatively, you can also opt for fish, fries, tofu or vegetables at some of the restaurants available in the park. For buffet breakfast, the hotels normally have international meals like baked bean, bread, rice porridge, scramble egg, pancakes, waffles, etc for you to choose from.

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6. Best Disneyland Attractions – Disneyland has a ton of attractions, and it is advisable that you take 2 days to explore all the theme parks. But if you have a 1-Day pass, here are some suggestions of what not to miss:

a) Flights of Fantasy Parade: Begins in Fantasyland, near the entrance of Storybook Theatre 3:30PM

b) “Disney in the Stars” Fireworks, Sleeping Beauty Castle, Main Street, U.S.A. 8:00PM

c) “The Golden Mickeys”, Fantasyland 12:30PM 1:45PM 4:00PM 5:00PM 6:15PM

d) Character greeting and photo opportunity: Main Street, U.S.A Town Square 10:00AM – 5:30PM, Fantasyland Fantasy Gardens 12:00PM – 6:30PM, Sleeping Beauty Castle 10:00AM – 5:30PM, Tomorrowland 10:30AM – 5:30PM, Toy Story Land 10:30AM – 6:00PM, Grizzly Gulch 10:30AM – 5:30PM.

e) Disney’s FASTPASS attractions: Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Space Mountain, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Use your ticket to get a FASTPASS ticket located outside the attractions.

Please check the Daily Calendar to see if the timings are the same.

Please check the park map and print it out for your guide beforehand. Alternatively, you can get the park map from hotels or from the City Hall situated at Main Street USA.

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7. How much to bring for shopping – I spent about HKD1011 (Approximately RM405) to buy merchandise as below and hope this can be your guide of how much to bring for shopping:

a) Buzz Lightyear Sword – HKD125

b) Mickey Original T-shirt for adult – HKD205

c) Mickey T-shirt for kid – HKD195

d) Mickey T-shirt for baby – HKD168

e) Mickey 3D Pen – HKD38

f) Disneyland iPhone 4s casing – HKD150

g) Minnie Mouse Hair Clips – HKD50

h) Mickey Acrylic Keychains 4pcs – HKD80

 

8. What’s the weather like – It is important that you know the weather before packing for this trip. Here are list of seasons and the average temperature:

a) Spring (March to May) – Temperature and humidity are rising. Evenings can be cool. Average Temperature: 17oC – 26oC

b) Summer (June to August) – Hot, humid and sunny, with occasional showers and thunderstorms. The temperature can exceed 31°C but high humidity levels can make it feel even hotter. Average Temperature: 26oC – 31oC

c) Autumn (September to November) – There are pleasant breezes, plenty of sunshine and comfortable temperatures. Many people regard these as the best months of the year to visit Hong Kong. Average Temperature: 19oC – 28oC

d) Winter (December to February) – Cool, dry and cloudy, with occasional cold fronts. The temperature can drop below 10°C in urban areas. Average Temperature: 12oC – 20oC.

So there you go. Happy planning your visit to Hong Kong Disneyland!

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Disney’s Hollywood Hotel

This is the continuation from previous post.

Waking up Yassin was easy as I promised him the night before that he gets to go to swimming pool if he wakes up early. After taking shower, we went to Chef Mickey to have our international buffet breakfast. We had the usual; bread, eggs and what not. Chef Mickey was not in sight, we guess he was busy preparing breakfast.

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After breakfast, we headed straight to the swimming pool. The water was warm and Yassin had a blast swimming and playing on the slide.

swim

After Yassin finished swimming, we went to the garden area to get some shots. And let me take this chance to show you around the hotel.

Disney’s Hollywood Hotel is one of two hotels at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort and it is themed to 1930s Hollywood. The hotel has 600 guestrooms each with the “garden view”, the “sea view” or the “park view” that overlooks the Hong Kong Disneyland Park.

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Decorations around the hotel include classic cars from the 1930s, a pavement decorated as a strip of film, names of roads and highways in California, the El Captain sign and even the ‘world famous’ “HOLLYWOOD HOTEL” sign.

 classiccar

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The hotel itself has a very art deco style, and is themed to the 1930 golden age of movies.

lobby

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There are five restaurants in the hotel. Chef Mickey (the main restaurant) has an international cuisine buffet, while Hollywood & Dine has quick-service food and beverages. Studio Lounge is a full-service bar with specialty drinks and snacks. The Sunset Terrace opens seasonally, with outdoor BBQ cuisine. The Piano Pool Bar sells drinks to guests sitting around a piano-shaped pool. The Piano Pool also has a side toddler pool, with a slide.

There’s a gift shop called Celebrity Gift that sells plush, toys, pins and stationeries near the lobby area.

As for its accommodation, Disney’s Hollywood Hotel offers A-List rooms. There are three captivating room types, each designed for the comfort of a family of four. Room types are according to outside view: Garden View, Sea View and Park View.

Amenities include one king-sized bed or two double beds in all rooms (non-smoking rooms available), flat-screen LCD TV, in-room high speed internet access, free wireless internet access at hotel lobby and dining locations, guest parking spaces, guest limousine service, in-room safe, cribs upon request, laundry and valet.

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Before we left the hotel, we did some shopping again at the Celebrity Gift shop. We took the shuttle bus and headed to Disney train station. We waved to the trees, the people, the hotel and everything we saw on the way to the station.
‘Goodbye Hong Kong Disneyland…until we meet again’ was our last words before setting our foot on the Disney train that took us to Tung Chung station.

Next post: My tips on how to plan for your trips to Hong Kong Disneyland!

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Fun in Hong Kong Disneyland II


Continuation from last post about HongKong Disneyland.

I told my son that he will meet and greet Disney Characters at Enchanted Garden, Disneyland Hotel during breakfast and before I could say ‘go to shower’, he had already disappeared into the shower. Good boy.

We took the shuttle bus to Disneyland Hotel and headed to Enchanted Garden. But since our reservation was at 9.30pm, we had to wait for our turn. While waiting, we went to the promenade area and Yassin got to play inside Mickey Maze.

mickeymaze

Later, we walked along promenade area by the sea. The weather was cool, breezy and fresh.

promenadesea
Sea-front promenade overlooking South China Sea.

When it’s already 9.30am, we went inside and our table was ready for us. We were ushered through the conservatory-like setting of the lamp-lit Enchanted Garden Restaurant to our table. This restaurant offers huge exquisite international buffet-style meals.

eg

bfast
We’re not a big-eater so our choice was quite typical; bread, eggs, vegetables and baked bean.

While having our breakfast, Daisy came into sight! And then Goofy and then Pluto and then Mickey!

characters

mickey

It was a fantastic opportunity for Yassin to see some Disney characters up-close and personal and got some photos taken with them. It was a very happy experience and Yassin was so proud.

Later, we went to the theme parks again to discover a part that we missed the other day; Tomorrowland. Tomorrowland features an emphasis on metallic trim, dominated by blue and purple hues. Since the opening of the park, unique attractions have been added into the Hong Kong’s Tomorrowland, such as a new Autopia and Stitch Encounter.

tomo

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The park was full and most of the rides were having long queues, so we opt for Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. We validated our tickets to get Disney’s FASTPASS® and skipped the long queue. We teamed up with Buzz Lightyear and spin the Star Cruisers 360 degrees. Equipped with fire hand-held laser cannons, we blasted enemy targets and got points. Yassin points was 5000+ while mine was 2000+. Hehe not bad eh for a mother?

buzz

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Yassin was hungry and we later bought fries and fish burger at Comet Café and took a break at the Town Square at Main Street USA.

 fries

It was around 3pm and Yassin was already tired from the day’s walking as well as from previous day. He had blisters on his feet, so we decided to return to the hotel and rest. On the way back, we took the chance to snap more photos around Main Street USA.

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Yassin playing ‘knock, knock, who’s there’.

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Last but not least, we did some shopping, yay!

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I asked Yassin whether he would want to explore some more but he was already tired and just wanted to rest. So we headed back to the hotel and took our rest and later had our dinner at Walt’s Café. We had pumpkin soup, salad, fish and great dessert.

waltfood

And that wrapped our night.

Next post: last day at Disney’s Hollywood Hotel before checking out at 11am.

 

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Fun in Hong Kong Disneyland


Disneyland. Disneyland in Hong Kong. Hong Kong Disneyland.

Finally, my son and I can say that we were here!

DLentrance

OK, maybe Hong Kong Disneyland needs no introduction at all but I still want to write about the general information.

Hong Kong Disneyland is located on reclaimed land in Penny’s Bay, Lantau Island. Hong Kong Disneyland offers a world-class, unique family entertainment experience inspired by the original Disneyland in California. The park opened to visitors on 12 September 2005 and consists of six themed areas: Main Street U.S.A., Fantasyland, Adventureland, Tomorrowland, Grizzly Gulch and Toy Story Land. Since its opening, Hong Kong Disneyland has hosted over 25 million guests and according to AECOM and TEA, Hong Kong Disneyland is the 15th most visited theme park in the world in 2011, with 5.9 million visitors. The park opens from 10.30am to 8.00pm daily.

Now, let’s take a walk with us to the theme parks; chronologically from the hotel where we had our lunch earlier (link to first post). You might want to make a hot chocolate and have some biscuits to dip in coz honey, this gonna be a lengthy post and you ain’t gonna leave anywhere until the end of this post; except for the loo of course.

So…, we took the shuttle bus back to the train station area where the entrance to Disneyland Theme Parks is situated. We were super excited as we approached the green arch with a big Welcome and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort sign.

After entering the arch, we were welcomed by a lush landscape of garden-like promenade where a musical fountain is located. The fountain features Mickey Mouse surfing on a whale spout, surrounded by dancing fountains, all accompanied by a medley of Disney music.

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While looking at the fountain, I couldn’t help but ponder about the mechanism and how does Mickey Mouse land safely without falling and breaking to pieces when the fountain stop. After looking closely, I think the flat-headed whale makes a good landing base for Mickey Mouse when the water stops gradually and slowly.

After taking more pictures here for our album, we went inside through a gate to the Main Street Station. At the gate, we had our bags checked before we could enter another gate where our tickets were validated. Some visitors were too excited to enter and overtook others without consideration. But the guard would nicely tell them to queue. Thank you, Mister, we love you!

First area we visited was Main Street U.S.A.

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Yassin at the Main Street Station.

According to Disney Imagineer Tom Morris, Main Street U.S.A. at Hong Kong Disneyland is a close reproduction of the Disneyland original as a tribute to Walt Disney’s original park and his approval of the design. Main Street USA features a small American downtown at the turn of the century 1900, just before gas lamps were being replaced by electric lights and the “horseless carriage” was a new invention. Walt Disney’s childhood hometown of Marceline, Missouri served as an inspiration.

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We were here just about the right time as Flights of Fantasy Parade started. We were amazed by its grandeur. Mickey’s Magical Airship leads the way later followed by Winnie the Pooh and friends, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, and many more. It was so colourful!

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Mickey Mouse.

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Dumbo the Flying Elephant.

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Chipmunk.

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Jessie and female version of Buzz Lightyear.

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Yassin was pulled-in to participate and he joined in the fun without hesitation!

After the parade was over, we walked to Toy Story Land. Toy Story Land has larger-than-life toys where we automatically shrunk to the size of a toy! Interesting!

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Honey, they shrunk our kid!

Attractions here include Slinky Dog Spin, RC Racer, Toy Soldier Boot Camp, Barrel of Fun, Toy Soldier Parachute Drop and Cubot. Yassin wanted to try out the parachute drop and I had to overcome my fear of height to accompany him. So off we went to join Andy’s troops for a high-flying adventure. Weeeeee!

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We also tried Slinky Dog Spin. This was not as scary as parachute drop. Hehe!

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Next, we walked to Fantasyland and watched Golden Mickeys show. This spectacular musical extravaganza is honouring favourite Disney films featuring its main characters such as Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto, Belle, Beast, handsome Tarzan, Woody, Jessie, Quasimodo, Stitch, Mulan and Captain Shang.

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 Later we went to Adventureland and took that Jungle River Cruise. Here we experience dangerous waters of a mysterious river filled with thrilling surprises as the captain tells the tales.

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Tarzan’s Treehouse.

Oops, sorry. These are the only good photos from my camera. Other pictures were very blurry and most of the time I didn’t really take photos because I was cautiously preparing myself to back away if anything rises from under the water. Haha, scaredy cat. Where’s my Tarzan when I needed him most?

Later after that we went to Grizzly Gulch.

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Grizzly Gulch is a new addition to Hong Kong Disneyland last July 2012. This land reminisces an abandoned mining town called “Grizzly Gulch”, set amidst mountains and woods. The centrepiece structure is Big Grizzly Mountain, inspired by Grizzly Peak in Disney California Adventure Park. The town was set to be founded 8 August 1888 — the luckiest day of the luckiest month of the luckiest year — by prospectors looking to discover gold.

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Fierce enough?

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We had a tiring day and it was time to have dinner at Plaza Inn. Inspired by the movie “Mulan”, this restaurant serves Cantonese-style dim sum, signature shrimps, spring rolls, BBQ and other delicious meals. As for us we ordered fish, tofu, vegetables and vegetable fried rice.

 PlazaInn

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And to wrap the night, we watched the firework show at Sleeping Beauty Castle! It was splendid and we could never imagine that one day we will be able to see it for real. We went back to the hotel with a big smile.

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 Next; Exciting greet-and-meet with Disney characters and a little bit more on Hong Kong Disneyland.

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Hong Kong Disneyland: A Dream Comes True

“Mother, do you think Disneyland would look like this?” asked my son, Yassin, one day while taking a view of Kuala Lumpur city one night back in 2009. “Disneyland has Sleeping Beauty castle with fireworks, dear,” I replied.

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He was dreaming of visiting the magical kingdom of Disneyland and the only thing I could say was that I’ll bring him to Disneyland one fine day when I have saved enough money to take him.

Only after 4 years the dream came true; we visited Hong Kong Disneyland last month (14 – 16 March 2013). He was overwhelmed and excited. A week prior to our departure to Hong Kong, he would make a little ‘Yay’ scream few times a day. I can understand his feeling of excitement; it was too hard to hide.

The initial plan was to go together with his dad as family but as my husband could not take leave from work, so it was just the two of us.

The day came and as my husband was not around, I asked my BFF, Helmy, if he could help drive me to the airport at 3am. The flight was at 6.30am. I always like to be early for international departure. I can either have coffee or read books or sketch while waiting at the gate.

After a flight of about 4 hours, we touched down in Hong Kong International Airport. We took Airport Express train to Tsing Yi (turquoise line), later changed train at Sunny Bay (orange line) and then took another train to Disneyland (pink line). Alternatively, there’s other transportation like taxi and bus but we prefer the train. The train here is called MTR and it is regarded as one of the world’s leading railways.

After about half an hour, we reached Disneyland Station. We were very excited!!

 Disney Station

 Later we took a shuttle bus provided near the train station and checked in Disney’s Hollywood Hotel.

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DHHotel

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We love the room!! I talk about this hotel later in other post but here is a picture of the room for you to look at.

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Yassin was already screaming hungry, so we went for lunch at Crystal Lotus, situated at Disneyland Hotel (not far from this one) as the reservation has been made earlier. We went there on the shuttle bus provided by the hotel.

Crystal Lotus is grand! And we bumped into a Malaysian family there! In fact we bumped into few others at the hotel earlier; one from Penang and the other from KL.

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The restaurant has won the Best of the Best Culinary Awards 2009 – Gold with Distinction Medal from Dim-Sum Category, so we don’t want to miss to experience the chef’s award winning culinary skills. We requested for fish and vegetables and here is all the great-tasting food for you to drool upon. Hehe.

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Steamed Vegetables Dumpling, Vegetable Spring Roll and Swan Vegetarian Taro Puff.

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Yassin eating vegetable spring roll.

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Clockwise from top: Pumpkin Soup, Sautéed Grouper Fillet with Asparagus, Braised Mock Abalone with Bean Curd and Fried Rice with Preserved Vegetables.

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We had a great Mickey Mango Pudding and Duffy Steamed Red Bean Bun as dessert.

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Last but not least, Jasmine tea to wrap our lunch.

The lunch was great! We were all fuelled up and ready to rumble. Next, Disneyland Theme Parks.

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