Sunday, October 23, 2011

Philippine Immigration @ NAIA

            I have been to several places in Asia for a few times and I don't have any problems getting through the Immigration. Not until I decided to go to Singapore. It was our first time to travel to Singapore. After we checked in, we proceeded to the immigration counter and the first question that was asked was "Who invited you to Singapore?" We told her none, although, we have friends and relatives there. I guess she was not convinced with our answer and  she asked us to go to another IO (Immigration Officer) for an interview. In short, we were held. At first, we were scared thinking that they will not allow us to board Tiger Airways. While on the holding area we saw several others who were being held and interviewed. We waited for long minutes, answered all their queries, showed all the required documents. I am just wondering why we had to go through such scrutiny where in fact Singapore only requires a valid Philippine Passport?

Anyways, to avoid the hassle we had been through, here are the tips on how to avoid being offloaded:

* Have a return ticket. Some were asked for a return ticket by Immigration Officers in Singapore.
* If you are currently employed, bring with you your company ID. If unemployed, it is advisable have an invitation letter from a friend or relative.
* Answer all the questions with confidence raised by an Immigration Officer.
Show them your reservations (hotel, tour, a bus ticket, etc)
* Bring cash ($$$$) that would be enough for the duration of your stay.
* If  asked how much did you spend for your travel, double it. Tell them you have booked for a tour, a show etc.
*Be always ready with your supporting documents, show them that you are a real tourist and that you don't intend to look for a job there.
*One of my friends , a  former Immigration Officer, says, if you are a real tourist, you should dress like one. You should look good and neat because this would simply imply that you can afford to travel.
* Don't be intimated by some rude Immigration Officers in  NAIA.
* Check in early, let say 3 or 4 hours before your flight so that you will have more time just in case you will be held at the departure area. 
*Please note that while at the holding area, you will be asked to fill out a form. You have to indicate your personal details, your address abroad, reason for travelling, your flight details, etc. Once you are done filling out the form, you need to fall in line for an interview. An interview takes 10-20 minutes. After which, they will decide whether to allow you to board or not.

---Good luck and have a safe trip!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Exploring HongKong and Macau

Thanks to the sprouting Budget Airlines that made my solo trip to Hong Kong and Macau possible. For less than $300, I spent 3 days in Asia's World City and  2 days in the Vegas of the Far East - where Asia Plays. It was quite chilly, yet tolerable when I arrived in Hong Kong.  Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok is an engineering feat. It has nice interiors, efficiently designed and has its own train that plies around the airport.

It was funny because, I almost get lost while scrutinizing the airport design right after I deplaned. I was not sure if I should board the train or not. Forgive me, It was my first time. I tried to observe for a minute or two and finally decided to board the train and it brought me to the other part of the airport where the immigration was located. I took a bus going to my hostel in Mongkok area, a place characterized by a blend of old and modern multiple storey bulidings, with stall, shops and restaurants just a few steps way. 

Here are the must see/visit places in Hong Kong:

The Avenue of the Stars

Symphony of Lights


 The best way to see the entire city is to join the hop on/hop off bus tour. With as low as $15 you'll have the freedom to explore the city's remarkable landmarks or attractions. I tried the "The Big Bus Company Tours". The company offers the following (as written from their website):

Your open-top bus tour reveals Hong Kong’s famous landmarks and charts the city’s rich blend of Chinese and colonial history.

The Day Tour includes circular tours of both Kowloon and Hong Kong Island which you can enjoy at your own pace. You will see all the city’s famous sights and the hop-on, hop-off facility will enable you to explore Hong Kong’s popular attractions, including the Ladies Market, Victoria Peak, Man Mo Temple, Soho and Aberdeen.

On the Day Tour, you can chose a 24 or 48 hour ticket, and enjoy inclusions such as a free trip on the Star Ferry and tickets for the Peak Tramway, taking you up to Victoria Peak for fantastic views of the city. Your Day Tour ticket also includes the opportunity to visit the world famous Stanley Market and a free sampan ride in Aberdeen.

Also with your Big Bus Day Tour,you can join the Night Tour and discover the vibrant night life of Kowloon, the neon spectacle of Nathan Road and the fantastic Symphony of Lights display. 

All Big Bus Tours provide a personal recorded commentary available in a choice of ten languages. The Big Bus Sightseeing Tour is a safe and relaxing way to experience this great city. The perfect introduction to Hong Kong and a fun day out for all. 

Macau is, along with Hong Kong, one of the two special administrative regions of the People's Republic of China. It lies on the western side of the Pearl River Delta, bordering Guangdong province to the north and facing the South China Sea to the east and south.

The territory's economy is heavily dependent on gambling and tourism but also includes manufacturing.

Macau was a Portuguese colony and both the first and last European colony in China. Portuguese traders first settled in Macau in the 16th century and subsequently administered the region until the handover on 20 December 1999. The Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration and the Basic Law of Macaustipulate that Macau operates with a high degree of autonomy until at least 2049, fifty years after the transfer.

Under the policy of "one country, two systems", the PRC's Central People's Government is responsible for the territory's defense and foreign affairs, while Macau maintains its own legal system, police force, monetary system, customs policy, and immigration policy. Macau participates in many international organizations and events that do not require members to possess national sovereignty. According to The World Factbook, Macau has the second highest life expectancy in the world.*

                                           MACAU TOWER