Taking respite from chaos that resembled Metro Manila, my family and I spent a long weekend in Hong Kong. Not exactly a first choice but it was a destination where our schedules and itineraries jived, and personal tastes and opinions conciliated. The dealbreaker, of course, was the newly-opened Disneyland. My nephew would have thrown tantrums if we went to see temples in Bangkok or museums in Singapore or elsewhere boring in the eyes of a 4-year old.

Truth be told, we feel relieved we made the family vacation happen. For years, it was just another thought in a bubble, floating idly around each own’s subconscious in earnest hope it bursts into reality. Vacations in real life were often limited to places proximal to Manila, and overseas trips were made individually and more to do with business than leisure.

Booked in a tour, we stayed in Canton for a night before heading to Shenzhen and Hong Kong.

As with any tour package, trips to odd companies were inevitable. We endured hours of demonstrations and went through offers and bargains of products ranging from high end jewelry to traditional silk and embroideries; from herbal ointments and teas to souvenir keychains and nailclippers. Not all were game, though. As without fail, the malcontent Pinoy came about with gripes and grumbles, blaming and bitching, criticisms and chidings thrown wildly about throughout the tour. Of course it helped the tourguide knew nothing (save for a few) about Filipino language.

The highlight of the trip was an all-day, free-and-easy itinerary inside Disney. Before, trips to Hong Kong were about Ocean Park, Victoria Peak, Nathan Road (for cheap mobile phones), and yes, the ubiquitous Giordano shops (for the viajeras and first time tourists). And so Disney is a new come-on for Hong Kong visitors with no budget to fly to Anaheim or Florida, or even Tokyo. There weren’t enough rides, though. So we did what Pinoys do best on occasions such as then: take photo shots. My nephew was overwhelmed, no doubt; pictures don’t lie. First time is always sweet.

Back in Manila, everyone was dead tired. Too tired that my sister left her bag inside a cab whose driver was both cunning and corrupt. All her essentials were in the bag: wallet, mobile phone, passport, digicam, etc. Had she not been quick to collect her wits and immediately report the incident to airport police and over AM radio broadcast, the bag wouldn’t be recovered and the supposed happy and sweet family weekend would end on a very sad and sour note.

By Saturday, I’ll be flying back to California. The Hong Kong trip was a great way to cap a month-long vacation in Manila. It gave me enough memories to remember the family more by and enough stories to reminisce with them about. A repeat is in order — no to tours and dubious cabs next time around, though.