360 Degrees: Ngong Ping and Tian Tan Buddha

Out of the dozen-plus trips I've had to Hong Kong, I have to be honest. I've never been to the Giant Buddha, until last Monday. My dad and I finally decided to trek to the famed statue while planning our trip. Although it was more like winging it than having a well thought out plan, Ngong Ping was first on our itinerary.

After depositing our stuff at the hotel, we hopped on the MTR. Now, public transportation in Hong Kong is such a joy compared to the bane we have here in Manila. Buses and mini buses are on time, clean, and uncrowded. The tram, which runs along Hong Kong island, is an old but fun way to get around, if you're not in a hurry. Taxis are easy to come by, and you don't have to worry about the meters being rigged. MTR is such a marvel. Since most of Hong Kong are developed urban areas, there's no place above ground for the train to run through. Most of the stations are underground and have numerous exits, compared to the measly left and right-side exits here. Some stations have exits that lead you inside shopping malls, while other stations have as much exits from A-R! 

After an MTR line transfer from blue to yellow, we finally got to Tung Chung station. To get to the Buddha, one must take a bus or the cable car to the top. We opted to take the Ngong Ping 360 cable car, which set us back 115HKD each. There is a row of shops and restaurants, where some workers were taking out a Valentine themed display.

Photo taken mid-blink, courtesy of Dad
Or they might be CNY themed, as the Ngong Ping monkey couple were in rabbit ears. Either way, the boy monkey-rabbit is M while the girl monkey-rabbit is me :)

Keep on walking and one way or another, you will reach the base of where the Tian Tan Buddha sits. We just followed the people and we eventually got there. The whole trek up to the Buddha consists of 16 sets of 14 steps each. Dad nearly blew his socks off, it was that tiring. He liked the trees around the place though.

All in all, I wasn't super amazed by the whole thing. The Ngong Ping cable car, 5.7 meters long each way, was interesting enough. But I've had my fair share of cable car rides so it wasn't every special. The Tian Tan Buddha was a marvel. You could almost feel his personality shine through the heavy bronze. It was fulfilling to be able to climb up and see him up close. 

1. 4. 3. Go!

I recieved a Facebook event invite from my friend the other day. Seeing as it was a fun run event, I had to pass. I like being active, but my lungs cannot take prolonged running. Since I had pneumonia when I was a kid, I could only do short bursts and sprinting.

First Mary Kay Global Month of Service Unites Thousands of Employees and Independent Sales Force Members in Effort to Volunteer One Million Hours of Community Service Worldwide
In Manila, Mary Kay Philippines participants will be running in the “1.4.3. GO: Run the Mile. Share the Love” Fun Run on February 27, 2011 at SM Mall of Asia which will be for the benefit and creation of a playroom and education corner for the Pediatric OPD Charity Patients Social Service Division of the Philippine Heart Center.

Since I cannot run to save my life, I told my friend J that I would blog about it instead. It will be the 100th celebration of International Women's Day this year, and what better way than to join a run for a cause? Head on over to the Facebook event page to get more details. You can also help out by clicking this link to help Mary Kay get 1 million hours of community service worldwide.

Sunday Lunch at Papa John's

My lemming for Papa John's started when I found out that the first PJ's PH was open at Robinson's Galleria. I constantly asked my parents to take the whole family there, but they didn't like the thought that it was at Galleria. Fast forward to January. I checked the website for the nth time, and lo and behold! The top banner said that the Greenhills branch was finally open! We just had to make the out-of-the-way-trip to eat there.

Calzone's: Chicken & Mushroom and Pepperoni & Mushroom
Papa John's prides itself with using the freshest ingredients. All the button mushrooms I tasted were fresh, and not canned. The service was okay too, for a newly opened restaurant. The waitstaff were friendly, but I guess they could work on efficiency as they go on. The time it took for the food to come out was painstakingly long, which was why we were famished by the time the first dish touched the table.

Cheesesticks with garlic sauce
We ordered Cheesesticks, which came with garlic sauce. It's more like a little 6 inch cheese pizza cut into strips. The garlic sauce gave a nice flavor contrast with the cheesy pizza. This was an appetizer, but sadly, it came after a few of the other dishes came out. Something I did not particularly like nor hate was the Chicken baked rice. It had chicken, mushrooms, tomatoes on top of pepper rice. It was okay, and it's something I think my brother could pull off on his own. Another gripe I had was that the serving was too small. I also ordered the calzone's on the menu, Chicken & Mushroom and Pepperoni & Mushroom.  Both were good, but I liked the Chicken one better because the Pepperoni's taste was kinda off. Finally, we had a large, All the Meats pizza, which came with two garlic sauces and a pepperoncini. We didn't want the bugger of a pepper, so we asked if it could be changed to a garlic sauce instead. Good thing they agreed. (Only the calzone's and cheese sticks are pictured, because we wolfed everything down before I remembered to take photos. We were starving because it took a long time for the food to come out.)

All in all, it was okay. I wasn't particularly wow-ed by the whole experience. The food was good, but not amazing as I hoped it would be. It still pales in comparison to my US Papa John's experience, but I still like the fact that they used all fresh ingredients. Hopefully, they can bring the service up a notch, which will make dining there better. We had to follow up our orders and other requests numerous times. I'll still go back and give it another shot at a later date, so that Mics could go and try it out too.
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