Reflections, Travel

Hong Kong: The Highs and The Lows

Victoria Peak. The Peak Tram. The Peak
Everyone does it.

And for a good reason. It is a great way to see the city. Our trusty Fodor guide suggested the best way to do this is as a day/night trip. And that’s what we did. We MTR-ed our way to Admiralty, exiting under the Lippo Centre, from where we made our way up Cotton Tree Drive and to the Tram terminus. It’s about a 5 or so minute walk uphill, traffic permitting. In the entrance area there is a lovely statue of Jackie Chan advertising Madame Tussaud’s. Which, with the Peak Tower undergoing renovation and revitalisation while we were in town, we didn’t actually get to experience. 😦

Still, the tram ride was actually worth it. It’s only a 7 minute journey – not particularly epic and at the start not particularly salubrious in it’s outlook. But by the time you get to the Tourist bit it gives you a really good and unique view back down into Hong Kong. The Tram itself is rather sweet too. Reminiscent of days gone by. And even our snappy little digital (which is not particularly flash) could take photographs through the windows without drama.

Once off at the other end you can take a stroll to the lookout (everyone does) and take photographs looking back towards Kowloon. Or you can take a stroll around the shopping centre directly outside the Tram station. We did both. As we were planning on a day/night excursion, we took advantage of the late afternoon light and did the tourist photographs of the view. You know the sort of photos – stand up straight, suck in the tummy, move a bit to the right because the Bank of China is sticking out of your head, grin in a silly manner kind of thing. The only real difficulty is squeezing some space between all the other tourists.

The locals have been quite ingenious on the business front here – they’ve set up digital cameras and a printer along the walkway, taking and/or printing digital snaps of you and the Hong Kong skyline in the background. We chose not to use their services, but did applaud the business innovation shown.

Out of sheer nosiness, we wandered further along the same path and eventually came to a residential road. It gave us a different angle on the city and a view of a couple of birds of prey floating in the thermals. Unfortunately they never came quite close enough to make out clearly, but they looked like they were having a great deal of fun.

We wandered back to the Shopping Centre and took a look down at the southerly side of Hong Kong Island before going inside and taking a look around. It is a small centre by Hong Kong standards, and was not a particular stand-out on the shopping front. It did have, however, the only truly tourist shop that we came across during our stay. It had all the tourist knick-knacks you would expect to find – calligraphy scrolls, figurines, commemorative clothing and even ivory carvings. Nothing other than the scrolls was particularly tempting, however.

Once we had done the obligatory rounds of the shopping centre we went looking for a restaurant to have dinner in, and await the setting of the sun. Despite temptations of New Zealand lamb on one menu, we went for a mixed Chinese / Thai theme. It’s definitely an interesting menu when you can order Fish Maw and Goose Web for a main !
Strangely enough, we didn’t. 🙂

Dinner was pleasant, but as you would expect from a prime position on Victoria Peak, not cheap. However we did get to sit and relax, recharge and then head out again after dark to take the night photographs of the city. A tripod is highly recommended for this, of course, otherwise you might just want to leave it to the professionals. As the night view of the city is one of the prized excursions here, once our five minute photoshoot was over we found ourselves at the back of a very long queue for our return tram journey. Be prepared to wait 15 to 30 minutes (two or so tram rides worth) before getting a seat.

Once at the bottom terminus we headed back towards town through Hong Kong Park. Even though it was after dark, the park was well lit and a very pleasant and short walk. At the end of this we took the escalators down to Pacific Place and on to the MTR at Admiralty, and back to our hotel.

At the end of this day, we were facing the end of holiday lows…

The thought of leaving Hong Kong behind.

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