After 3 full days in Hong Kong I got a very good impression of this city I think. For not arriving with any plan and being slightly worried on the way here, it worked out pretty ok!
Getting in, I followed the instructions of my airbnb host, which were get the Airport Express to Central and then a taxi to my house. Airport Express no problem, finding a taxi also no problem – showing the driver the full address in English? Empty look… :O Thankfully, she had foreseen that and also sent me the Chinese version. That worked and he took me there.
It’s an apartment on the 45th floor of a huge new block, only that due to Chinese superstition about numbers, some floors don’t exist. There’s for example no 44 because the number 4 is deemed unlucky… So actually it’s something like the 37th floor – but that’s still higher than I’ve ever lived (call me ground floor girl 😉 ).
Got here just in time to meet my host before she was going out, as the next day was a public holiday with National Day. Also met her beagle who was all over me straight away – dogs really like me it seems 😉 After getting into my room and unpacking, pretty soon it was lights out and bed.
11 hours sleep later I was ready to tackle the city. Took the MTR (metro) to Central and just got out, without a plan of what to do or where to go. Following my feet I finally ended up at the Peak Tram Lower Terminus and decided I might as well queue and go up there to get some nice pics. Said queue took about an hour waiting on both sides of the street, but when I came there the next day it was much longer…
The Peak Tram has been around since 1888, taking passengers up and down the Peak. You get some pretty nice views while going up if seated on the right side (I wasn’t) and by a window. Especially the optical illusion of the skyscrapers being tilted to impossible angles is quite fun 🙂 At the top you arrive in the recently renovated Peak Tower and work your way by escalator through various floors of shops and restaurants before coming to the Sky Terrace 428. The access can be included in the ticket and gives you a 360 degree view from the highest point as well as an audio guide.
The weather could have been better, but I did get some nice pictures of the skyscrapers on Hong Kong Island as well as on Kowloon. Most of the restaurants in the Tower were either way too expensive or too full, so I walked out to the Plaza and decided to explore the shopping mall on the other side. Main attraction there: Pacman! Now imagine walking around with the Pacman melody all over the place… you’re welcome 😉
The mall also had a terrace with nice views, but of course lower down than the Tower and some places were obstructed by ongoing building works. That was the first of many times that I saw a specialty: bamboo scaffolding! It seems to be very effective and can be found even on the biggest skyscrapers! Of course it’s also very ecological and I think it is reused as many times as possible. For us Europeans it does look strange though… 😉
After another half hour of queuing, it was time to go down again and explore the city a bit more on foot. As it turned out, I was quite close to Admiralty where the lady at the airport from the tourist board had told me to go that night for the National Day fireworks. It was still early afternoon, but I thought I should check out the area to decide if I wanted to go there later.
Tamar Park it was, full of people having picnics already, with a path that led along the water towards Central and the Piers and I followed that to take the metro back “home”. It started raining a little bit then and as I had talked to a guy from the Big Bus Tour Company earlier that day, I decided to pop into their office and see if I could buy a tour. The girl there recommended the 48 hour deluxe tour and (as that’s over now) it was the right choice! 🙂
The package contained 48 hours of hopping on and off the Big Bus routes, 3 of them in total. Red goes around Hong Kong Island, Green to Stanley and Aberdeen and the Blue one is for Kowloon. There’s also 4 tickets for the Star Ferry, a Harbour Tour on said Star Ferry, a Night Tour of Kowloon that ends in time to watch the Symphony of Lights and Music from that side (in theory), admission to the Maritime Museum, a ticket for either the Peak Tram or the Sky 100 and a Sampan ride in Aberdeen. At HK$550 it is rather pricey, but then again I managed to fill my days with it and didn’t have to spend any extra money 🙂
When I got back out to Tamar Park after a short stop to shower and change, I found a very nice spot not right at the waterfront, but still close enough to get a good angle at the fireworks. There was no pushing or too many people, it was very relaxed and I really enjoyed it 🙂 Most impressive: how well the police handled all the people leaving at the same time and how clean the park was! Asian people seem to have better discipline than Germans it seems… 😉
My tour experiences will follow in a second post 😉