I had always dreamed of joining the Amazing Race.
Back in college I always talked to my buddy Seidj that in the future we would join the race. My sister and I almost forwarded our applications forms to join; Unfortunately, fate brought us to Dubai. Until now, I await to see the latest episodes of The Amazing Race and The Amazing Race Asia.
Well… This dream of mine changed when I went to Hong Kong/Macau late last month.
Planning my trip to Macau, I’ve learned that it would be cheaper (half the price!) to fly to Hong Kong, instead of Macau. This mean I had to take a ferry ride from Hong Kong to Macau to be there. Ok then! I’ll take it. Little did I know that there was no cheap flight going to Hong Kong. It was cheaper to fly to the Philippines via Hong Kong than flying to Hong Kong directly (someone explain this to me).
Then heaven sent me China Southern Airlines.
So here’s the breakdown:
- 8 hours flight of Dubai to Guangzhou
- 2 hours stopover in Guangzhou
- 45 minute flight from Guangzhou to Hong Kong
- 1 hour bus from Hong Kong Airport to the Ferry Terminal
- 50 minutes ferry ride from Hong Kong Ferry Terminal to Macau Ferry Terminal
- 10 minute bus ride from Ferry Terminal to the Hotel where my friend works
Same travel itinerary going back in backwards.
I left Dubai at 12 MN and I arrived in Macau at 10 PM the next day. (Yeah! Yeah! Time difference but still! That’s longer than flying from Manila to the US!)
Me-an, my Macau based friend, told me, “Nalimutan kong sabihin sa’yo. Meron palang direct ferry from HK Airport to Macau! Halos 2 oras din ang matitipid mo kasi mawawala na yung bus.”
“Ok lang,” I told her, “Wala naman akong oras na hinahabol. Atleast pag pauwi na ako, kahit late na ako umalis mula hotel. May deretso naman pala papuntang airport na ferry.”
I spoke too soon! My flight in Hong Kong International Airport was 6PM. I left my friends around 2 PM. (1 hour ferry ride: I’ll be in HK Airport by 4 PM <2 hours before the flight>)
At the ferry desk in the hotel, the Chinese guy told me, “I’m sorry sir, the 1:30 ferry straight to the airport left already. You can wait for the next ferry straight to the airport which will leave at 4PM. What time is your flight?”
I slowly answered, “6PM.”
“I’m sorry, you won’t make it.”
Now you’re telling me? “What do you think should I do?” I asked nervously.
“You can take the ferry ride going to Hong Kong Center. That leaves every 15 minutes.”
I did just that.
I ran to the Ferry Terminal, bought the next trip and shakily waited for the ferry. I asked the Chinese guy beside me, “How can I go from the airport after we docked in Hong Kong Central?”
“Oh! I’m sorry,” he answered, “I’m from Macau, not from Hong Kong.”
Oh no! What do I do? Should I take a taxi from the ferry port? How much would that cost? HKD 300?
<If this was really The Amazing Race, this will be the cue to cut to a commercial break>
At that moment, a nice Chinese girl on my other side took out her iPhone and showed me the directions, “Excuse me? I can’t help but overhear, this is what you should do: take the train from the ferry terminal. Ride to Central then take the Airport Express.”
She was an angel! Too bad I had to run.
Time to board. One hour of this ferry ride and it’ll be 3:45! 15 minutes before checking in and the Chinese girl told me to that the MTR will be 30 minute ride from Central to the Airport, 4:30! I can still make that flight! I gotta make that flight!
On the ferry, I knew I had no HKDs! I gave away all the remaining bucks. I knew I won’t be passing by Hong Kong (from ferry to HK Airport remember?) I need to find a money changer at the port! So that’s Immigration, Money Changer and MTR search.
I arrived at the port. Ran to the immigration, “Excuse me! Excuse me!” I screamed while dragging my luggage.
I usually am nervous falling in line at immigrations but this nerve isn’t about that. I was nervous my flight will leave me.
“Where’s the nearest money changer?” I asked one Chinese woman.
She pointed me there.
I literally dropped all my money: US Dollars and Macau Patacas and told the woman, “Please change to HK Dollars.”
I grab the money without counting or computing and ran again.
“Where’s the MTR?” I asked another Chinese fellow.
Man it was far! I ran more than a block!
MTR (Sheung Wan) – last one to board the metro before the doors closed
Connection in Hong Kong Central – Airport Express
– If the Metro Station was far from the ferry port, the connection was even farther. Hong Kongers might find me annoying as I pushed them to pass through.
Finally! I can relax!
At the check-in counter, I told the two Caucasian guys in front of the line, “Excuse me? Are you on the 6 PM flight?”
They understood, stepped aside and told me, “No, go ahead.”
I asked the desk, “Am I late?”
“No, Sir, but the gate is far so you have to go there directly.”
I made it. Ran and pushed people, nervously (without eating lunch!)
I finally made it in HK Airport, at my gate and finally ate my Starbucks sandwich. (bought it there)
My race didn’t end there.
At Guanzhou (and maybe all of China), even though I’m just passing through their Airport, I had to go through Immigration again!
I knew it would take time because I already passed there last week (coming in from Dubai).
This time it took longer.
The line was 30 minutes long and apparently (I think) Filipinos’ passports are being checked inside the office.
I had to wait outside their office and stand by for the result.
I told the Chinese Immigration Man, “Sir, my flight is at 8:00, I have to leave.”
“Wait!” he went inside, got my passport and directed me to my gate.
Good thing my flight was delayed til 8:30.
Final Destination: Dubai
1:00 AM (Dubai Time)
My luggage didn’t come out of the carousel. Darn!
Customs held it (contained too many Chinese treats)
From China to Dubai, I had experience the stress of travel! Amazing Race? No way!!!!