Hong Kong Trip Questions

Jul 22nd, 2003, 12:30 PM
  #1  
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Hong Kong Trip Questions

Greetings all,

Thanks for some good info, but let me pose a more advanced question about transportation in Hong Kong. This is my 3rd time to HK, and my wife's first, the 2 for 1 offer was too good to pass up.

I'd like to go to the Po Lin Monastary and am wondering if I can save some time using the Airport train rather than the ferry to Lantau Island.

My thinking is that I can take the train to the airport, find out which bus goes to po lin, show her the big buddha, take the bus back to the airport, and then take te train into kowloon station, it would be quicker than the old ferry method. If anyone can help with the number of the bus and where to get on it, would be greatly appreciated.

If this was the only opportunity to be on a ferry, I'd take it. This trip is scheduled for 6 days, so I am planning a trip out to Lamma for a day of peace and seafood.

Can anyone comment on the time it takes to travel to Shinzhen and get your visa? I have never done the "run to the border," but I have heard that there are bargins galore.

Does Tiger Balm Gardens still exist? Last I had heard was that the family might have to sell due to the property bubble bursting. Coming from LA I love the little place, it reminds me of Disneyland. I swear, Walt stole a couple of ideas from the place!

Thanks for all the help.

CalifJeff is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2003, 01:39 PM
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I've been told this, but haven't done it for myself, so you should perhaps double check:

You can catch bus 23 to Po Lin from the Tung Chung MTR station. That station is linked to the airport by minibus, but probably, that part of the MTR being pretty rapid, you'd do best just to take the MTR rather than the Airport Express, and save the change to a minibus. Whether, if your hotel is in Central, that would be quicker than taking the Mui Wo/Silvermine Bay ferry and bus 2, is another question.

Peter N-H
http://members.axion.net/~pnh/China.html
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Jul 22nd, 2003, 05:26 PM
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I forgot the Shenzhen query (I've never been to the Tiger Balm Gardens, but I also believe they've been shut for some years now).

The 5-day pass to Shenzhen only costs HK$100--about US$13, and isn't available to British passport holders, incidentally. Taking the KCR East line will bring you to the border post which is currently the last stop, Lo Wu (although the line is being extended into mainland territory). You shouldn't go to Lo Wu unless you actually intend to cross the border, or you may be fined. You can find the timetable for the train's frequent services at:

http://www.kcrc.com.hk/eng/services/...er_shedule.asp

Crossing time varies according to season, day of the week, etc. Allow at least an hour each way.

Those who do go to Shenzhen to shop often get no further than the overrated Luo Hu Shangye Cheng (Luo Hu Commercial City), five stories of shopping above the bus station to the right as you leave the border. The shopping center, open from 8:30am to 11pm, is where you find luggage, shoes, bags, CDs, clothes, toys, Chinese medicine, tea, tailoring services, portrait photography, bed linens, quilts, electrical goods, leather goods, pearls, jewelry, wigs, massages, pedicures, and even a Cantonese opera house. Of course, as elsewhere in the mainland, nearly everything is fake. !?Where else can you get a cotton tailored shirt for around $9?!? enthuses one shopping guide. To which the answer might be, !?Name a mainland city where you can!?t!?and usually cheaper.!? This mall!?s very proximity to rich Hong Kong, almost inside the border post, ought to warn you off in the first place. First asking price for a fake Fendi bag here is [Yen]500 ($63), and shoppers go away chirping happily that they bargained a third off the price. Even in the most tourist-haunted corner of Be[av]iji[li]ng, the canny bargainer can get the same item for as little as [Yen]50 ($6.25).

Canny Hong Kongers looking for lower prices than they pay for practical items at home, and capable of hard-nosed bargaining, can do well enough with a day's shopping to make the time and and expense of the trip worthwhile. Inexperienced souvenir hunters might do better to stay in HK. Shenzhen is Brecht and Weill's Mahagonny made flesh--a gimcrack, rootless, moneygrubbing place with few redeeming features, and a shame to have as your sole image of mainland China, which has so much more to offer.

If you want a one-day trip to the mainland, you'd be better to investigate Guangzhou, also served by direct express:

http://www.kcrc.com/eng/services/ser...s_schedule.asp

This isn't China's greatest city, but has a great deal more to offer, including one or two marvellous sights. According to Guangzhou PSB (police), foreigners arriving by direct train from Kowloon to Guangzhou East can pick up a visa on arrival. You should check this by getting a Mandarin speaker to call 020/6130-0167 for you, however. You might also consider that a full Chinese tourist visa can be easily be obtained in 24 hours for around HK$150-180 in HK, which would give you a far wider range of choices for a day trip to the mainland, and the possibility of an overnight.

Peter N-H
http://members.axion.net/~pnh/China.html
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Jul 24th, 2003, 08:26 AM
  #4  
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Peter, thanks for the great advice. I have some follow-ups, if I may...

I did not know that the MTR (Mass Transit Railway) ran all the way out to Tung Chung. Is it an extension of the Red line?

Jeff

Our hotel is Holiday Inn Golden Mile, so I'll be coming and going from Kowloon.

While I do agree that that one can find cheaper deals in Beijing, I was hoping for different options to Luo Hu. It seems that the secondary mall is Dongmen, which leads me to believe that it will be overpriced (relatively) as well.

Do you have some places for shopping in Shenzhen and/or Guangzhou?

Sorry for the love of shopping, but I've been to Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, HK, & Toyko and it is some of the best places to people watch and to buy the odd gift.

I figure I'm always buying fakes or counterfeit, and that if one wants to buy real jade or antiquities one should only go to a place that is reputable.

I read about a jetfoil from HK to Guangzhou that takes about an hour and a half? How does it compare with the Train?




CalifJeff is offline  
Jul 24th, 2003, 01:53 PM
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The Tung Chung line is a new (well, not that new now) line which parallels the Airport Express, and which you could board at Kowloon Station, on reclaimed land on the west side of the peninsula, and reached by free shuttle bus from major hotels. You can also get on the Tsuen Wan line right outside the Holiday Inn, and change at Lai King, but that involves far more stops.

Northwest of the border crossing at Shenzhen is a newer section of town which has now become more the centre. Here there are a number of large department stores and markets, including a small cluster catering especially to women. If you are looking for conventional souvenir items then the shops around the border area have most, of course, and the best you can do would be to use your previous experience (assuming you got genuinely good prices when you shopped in other Chinese cities) to bargain down to nearer to what's reasonable. If good shopping is simply clothes bargains you can find all the usual Hong Kong brands by walking north (either side of the Shangri-La, but the east side a little better). But the prices are only fractionally lower than those obtainable in Hong Kong itself. For anything else just find a department store further away from the border, or go up to the New Territories, where domestic items are generally cheaper than in Kowloon or Hong Kong Island.

I'm never quite sure why, but the ardent shoppers who post here rarely mention Time Square, which sells the real thing in clothing, shoes, and other accessories for Hong Kong's better prices, and the street behind Sogo, not far away, which has excellent (and genuine) shoe prices (male, female, sports shoes, etc.)

If the main aim is 'people watching' then the zoo-like qualities of Luo Hu Shopping City will appeal, but pay attention to the signs:

"Care the deception of appreciating the curios
Care the deception of imitative administrator
Care the deception of selling outside the shops
Care the deception of borrowing the telephone
Care the deception of whacking the picking ups
Police call 8232 9748.!?

Guangzhou has several enjoyable shopping areas, not that I've investigated them in great detail. But Shang Jiu Lu and Xia Jiu Lu is a pedestrianized area of department stores and shops of all kinds which would appeal, and which is in walking distance of Shamian Dao (Island) with leafy strolls past old colonial buildings in relative peace and quite (Guangzhou might be China's noisiest city). There's a little tourist-orientated shopping here which might amuse, too, and some decent restaurants, some with river views.

You can find a schedule for the jetfoil service at www.turbojet.com.hk. There are only two sailings a day, taking about two hours, so you'd find the train, which puts you straight on the Guangzhou metro, quicker and more convenient for a day trip.

Peter N-H
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Jul 25th, 2003, 07:21 AM
  #6  
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Getting a deal is somewhat relative in Asia.

It used to be for technical items, I start bergining at 1/3 and settle for something in the 40 to 50% of the original price range.

But when haggling for products with a pure local cost, clothing, et al., with a bartering pattern of 1/5 counteroffer with the haggling to 1/3 or 40% of the original price.

And it all depends on how many items and how much of a group price I can get.

It usually was that vendors would triple their acceptable price. Then it went to 5 times. Now, some seem to up it to 10 times so they can haggle to 1/3 price. Cavet Emptor

Thanks for the tip about Times Square and Sobo. They are listed in my TimeOut guide and they were on my itinerary.

LOL I always enjoy translations to English were people don't quite know the language.

Permit me to attempt a translation, and please verify...

"Care the deception of appreciating the curios"

Beware of a third party commenting how wonderful the product is, he is in on it.

"Care the deception of imitative administrator"

Beware of the pushy boss/store owner?

"Care the deception of selling outside the shops"

Do not buy from street vendors or people doing business not in a store. The infamous "I have loose stones for sale" in Thailand comes to mind.


"Care the deception of borrowing the telephone"

This is new to me, they come up to you asking to use your phone then hang on to it for as long as they can? I don't carry mine while on vacation.


"Care the deception of whacking the picking ups"

You can't beat up the touts?

Thanks, Peter, I'll tip a pint in your hoonor...hell, I'll do it right now!

Jeff





CalifJeff is offline  
Jul 25th, 2003, 03:50 PM
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Last May my family visited the monastry on our last day in Hong Kong.

My recollection was that it was a Saturday.

We caught the MTR to Tung Chun and then the Bus.

The bus was very full possibly being the Saturday. I think they only run every half an hour. The MTR was very convenient but the Bus is a slow trip over the island.

We then caught the bus to the ferry stop, returned to Kowloon and then later caught an airbus to the airport.

We didn't ever catch the airport train so I can't comment on that.

My memory is that either way took about the same time, but the MTR/Bus was simply a different route to the ferry/bus.

I don't think you would save anything by going by the airport train.

My kids had been with us the chen chau and Macau so the ferry wasn't a particular interest to them by that time, but the area around the ferry port was interesting.

We were told last year that the Tiger balms gardens was closed. Which was on our list of things to do.

fdKen is offline  
Jul 25th, 2003, 09:08 PM
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Hi Jeff:

We were in Hong Kong in April '02 and the Tiger Balm Gardens were closed (no reason given) could see from the street.

As for the Po Lin Monastary - your quickest round trip is likely going to be dictated by the bus than either the boat/train.

We'd taken the boat to Silvermine Bay & the bus to the monastary then after the monistary we took another bus to Tai O (those buses were about 3/4 full & almost all tourists). When we were ready to leave we'd just missed the the bus from Tai O to Silvermine Bay & it was going to be 40 min for the next one but the one to Tung Chung Town Centre was leaving in 10 min so we took it (that bus was full & we were the only tourists).

The bus ride was slow due to the many steep hills (but the trip was quite enjoyable) & once we got to the Tung Chung Town Centre it would have made much difference in time if we'd taken the airport express vs MTR, as it was the bus that was the slowest part.

So from my perspective the ferry/bus combo was fastest, as the buses at Silvermine Bay appear to be fairly closely linked to the ferry. But for the return it would be which bus is there - from a time difference the bus/subway was maybe 10 minutes longer than the bus/ferry but in our case the bus to the subway was leaving almost immediately where as would ahve had to wait another half hour for the bus to the ferry.

Hope this helps.

Z
TravelMaster is offline  
Jul 26th, 2003, 09:16 AM
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Please also note that Lantau Taxi (Sjy Blue) are available outside Tung Chung MTR Station. They are resonable (Appox HKD $ 130, USD 17) and will get you quickly. Another wonderful way to get to Po Lin is to take a bus or Taxi to the top of the road from Tung Chung to South Lantau, get off there and then hike to Po Lin Monastery(2 Hrs). This id indeed a lovely hike and worth the experiance.
karma is offline  
Jul 29th, 2003, 05:52 AM
  #10  
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Bump

Peter? Can I get you to comment on the sign in Shenzhen?

thanks
CalifJeff is offline  
Jul 29th, 2003, 08:34 AM
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I didn't note down the Chinese, unfortunately, which would solve the problem, but:

"Care the deception of appreciating the curios"

I like your version, but it seems too sophisticated. I think it's probably a warning that most antiques are fakes, and those which are not are not as old as presented, or worth more than a tiny fraction of what is asked for them

"Care the deception of imitative administrator"

Perhaps a warning against individuals dressed in some kind of uniform and pretending to have authority, who might ask to see your passport, for instance, or fine you for some imaginary misdemeanour. This one is more likely to be pulled on Chinese than foreigners, but fake policeman are fairly common in China, not least because some police stations run shops selling police uniforms and equipment. There are also vast numbers of utterly useless security guards that businesses are forced to employ in order to get their licences (which helps keep the unemployment figures down) and who have uniforms similar to police ones.

"Care the deception of selling outside the shops"

Straightforward. While you can go back to the shop and complain (probably to no effect, mind you), you'll never see the "jade" vendor on the street again.

"Care the deception of borrowing the telephone"

"It's an emergency, can I borrow your phone?" And then suddenly I grow wings and disappear--with the phone, of course

"Care the deception of whacking the picking ups"

My guess is that it's the old scam where someone drops something apparently valuable. The helpful visitor picks it up and calls only to find either that while his attention is distracted his wallet or suitcase disappears.

When it comes to translating from Chinese to English, a little dictionary is a dangerous thing.

My most recent favourite was the following menu item:

"Peep-fried Chicken"

Peter N-H
http://members.axion.net/~pnh/China.html
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Jul 30th, 2003, 07:31 AM
  #12  
KY
 
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I suggest as an alternative to Shenzhen you can go to Macau which is safer and more intersting than Shenzhen. It has good and cheap food and a more relax atmosphere. The hydrofoil will takes around one and half hours to get there from HK.
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