Backtracking a bit (as I usually do, I know)...getting to Hong Kong proved to be more a problem than we ever thought when at four o'clock in the morning at the airport Immigration officials notified me I had to have an "exit permit" to leave the country. This was something I was supposed to have made a trip to the office in Intramuros to accomplish.
This was news to Edson and myself. We were under the mistaken assumption that if my visa was about to run out, they were kind of expecting me to be leaving the country anyway.
Oh, and with our plane leaving at 5:30am and the Immigration Office in Intramuros (over an hour away) opening at something like 8am that would mean I would miss our flight out.
Fortunately we were flying out of the new terminal. The new terminal has an immigration office there to handle these things that happen with great frequency. Before it opened in August I would have missed my flight and had to purchase another ticket for another day and likely pay fines for overstaying my visa due to the delay of the next flight.
Don't you love government red tape?
The office at the airport wasn't open yet, but we only had to wait about thirty minutes for it to do so. I paid 700 pesos ($14US) for an ECC fee (Whatever that is. Exit Clearance Certificate perhaps?), 10 pesos ($.20US) for a legal research fee (Tell me where else in the world a legal fee is only 20 cents!!), and 500 pesos ($10US) for an Express Lane Fee (Express Lane? There were only four of us there! And there's only one window...I suppose that is the express window.) That was twelve hundred and ten pesos ($24.20US) for a stamp that took about two minutes; meaning I paid that guy's salary for the next few days.
Another interesting thing to note was that the original immigration officer asked me for all the receipts for all the visa stamps in my passport. I had also assumed that if the stamp was in my passport I wouldn't need to bring along additional accompanying receipts from the immigration office proving I had paid for each of them. Isn't that why the stamps are there in the first place?
Well, we obviously made it on the plane in time and had long forgotten all about the morning in Manila by the time we were on our way to the top of Hong Kong - The Peak.
The Peak is the place to go for the best view of the Hong Kong skyline.Hazy with smog I know. Hong Kongers delight in telling everyone it is the fault of the industry on the mainland ruining the view of the Hong Kong skyline, not to mention its air quality.
Or browse/buy prints of Hong Kong:
Even better to me was a bit later, after a bagful of fresh Famous Amos chocolate chip raisin cookies, was this view from the other side of the hill:
We went back to our hotel, the Stanford, in Kowloon, and rested before dinner.
Here's our 9th floor view:And here's some shots we got of the city while driving about on the way to and from dinner:
And before we made our way back to the hotel to take a well-deserved and much-needed rest, we couldn't resist stopping by Victoria Harbor for the magnificent night view of Hong Kong's skyline:
Once back at the hotel, I think it took all of two or three minutes to fall asleep once we hit the bed!
Stay tuned for our day trip to Macau!