From Ilocos to Hong Kong…and Disneyland!

Ralph with Mich, Chu, and Francis

Unlike other kids during my time, I never dreamed about going to Disneyland. At least I wasn’t crazy about it.

But it became a goal in 2007 when good friends Mich, Francis, JP, and I were touring Laoag and Vigan, which was our first out of town trip together. After a fun-filled trip, the four of us plus Sherryl (who wasn’t able to join us then) decided to raise our standards and aim for an out of the country trip.

We wanted to go to either Hong Kong (particularly to see Disneyland) or Bangkok.

Even before choosing our destination, truth be told, I was somewhat skeptical about the trip ever happening given our schedules. But when Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay Miles had a promo reducing the needed miles for Hong Kong from 15,000 miles to just 7,500, Sherryl and I immediately grabbed the chance to buy the tickets. Francis, Mich and her boyfriend Mike followed suit and booked at Cebu Pacific.

In hindsight, I’m so relieved we chose Hong Kong. We would have been one the thousands stranded there now. Too bad though that Sherryl and JP weren’t able to come because of important commitments.

So back to Disneyland. We scheduled Disneyland on the third day of our trip. From Victoria Peak in Hong Kong side (great views here), it took us about an hour by train to get to there. It was really easy to get to the place, even if we needed to transfer to two or three train lines.

We arrived just after lunch. It was very sunny yet pleasantly cold. And our timing was perfect! It was the first weekend of the park’s Sparkling Christmas theme. We had three simple objectives: 1) Watch the fireworks show at 8 p.m.; 2) Watch the parade at 5:30; and most importantly 3) Take (thousands!) of pictures.

I must say it was wonderful seeing many Filipinos at the park. For me, it shows how much easier air travel has become compared to a decade back.

I had been to Disneyland in California early this year. So how does Disneyland HK measure up? The layout is exactly the same, although Hong Kong’s is smaller in terms of land area. So the rides are considerably on a smaller scale, like Autopia. The ride was very short compared to its California counterpart. Still one will definitely enjoy the Buzz Lightyear ride and Space Mountain.

It’s A Small World was closed when I went to California, so it was a real thrill seeing it finally. For lack of a better term, it was cute to hear the song in Filipino – Kay Liit ng Mundo…

Snow? Not quite.  The flakes are artificially-made suds

The Jungle Cruise was fun, even if it was also a shorter ride. But do take it at night, which we did. You’d appreciate the effects more during this time. The ride made me feel that I was in the opening billboard of the show Survivor.

Not surprisingly the park adjusted its menu to its Asian market. So yes, you can still avail of the usual hotdog sandwiches. But there were also dried squid and fish balls. We found the food quite expensive, and I’d even say the food was even more expensive that those in California. I mean, who wants to buy fish balls for HK$10 (P60-P70)? If your are budget conscious, it is best to eat a heavy meal before going to Disney.

The HK$10 Fishballs

One other fun thing because of the Holiday Season was the “snow flakes” on Main Street. I’m using quotation marks because what actually soap suds, and not even artificially-produced snow flakes.

Snow? Not quite. Theyre artificially-made suds disguising as snow.

Of course, the day ended with fireworks at Sleeping Beauty’s castle. I wonder what the Chinese think about the fireworks. But just like the display in California, I was impressed with the way the park has blended the fireworks with music, and projected clips of Disney classics.

The first time I went to Disneyland in California, I could not relate to people getting touched with the fireworks. I found the “Dreams Come True” slogan and theme of the park, which would be reinforced explicitly in the fireworks display. I could not relate with the hype.

Cheesy as it may sound, I unexpectedly found myself in a paradigm shift watching the fireworks last weekend. I felt touched, knowing that another dream had come true. But it wasn’t the being in Hong Kong per se that had touched me. And certainly it wasn’t Disneyland that was memorable. But it was sharing and fulfilling the dream with great friends, who have been there through thick and thin. It was a celebration of our youth, of our freedom — a celebration of a better, colorful life. I can’t wait for our next trip!

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