After spending nearly two weeks in Hong Kong, I could probably come back and write a whole series of postings about the places we visited and the things we saw. In fact, before we left on the trip that was my initial plan of attack. However, after just a couple of days things changed. We were simply seeing so much that a whole series of posts wouldn’t be practical — even as an unemployed person I don’t think I’d have enough time to go into great detail on everything we saw.
So, a compromise of sorts was in order. Below I will present a short video which shows the highlights in a visual format. If you’re still interested after that, scroll down and I’ll provide a synopsis of some of the places we saw with links where you can learn more on your own.
So, still with me? OK, I’ll list some of the places and things we saw.
- Central-Mid-Levels escalator and walkway system: There are a lot of hills in Hong Kong and having the “longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world” sure makes getting around a lot easier when you’re in the Central district. I found it interesting that escalator etiquette still seemed to be “Stand right, walk left” even though drivers in Hong Kong drive on the left side of the road, opposite from North America.
- The Peak Tram: In keeping with the theme of navigating hills, the Peak Tram is a funicular railway which climbs 400m over a distance of just 1.4km. Originally put into operation in 1888, this is much easier than walking up to The Peak, although I did that later in the trip too.
- The Peak: Officially it is Victoria Peak and has an elevation of 552m, making it the highest point on Hong Kong Island. Interestingly, the viewing platform and shopping mall are located more than 150m below the actual summit yet everyone calls it “The Peak”. The actual summit is home to a bunch of telecommunication towers and is off limits to the public. On a clear day you can get fantastic views of the city and harbour from up here.
- Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden: Located across the road from each other, these two places are remarkable for their ability to hide the noise from the city outside. The peace and tranquility inside are a stark contrast to the skyscrapers which can be seen outside.
- Kowloon Walled City Park: Located on what was the site of the infamous Kowloon Walled City, the pleasant surroundings offer little clue to the notorious enclave which once stood here. Reading about it doesn’t help me comprehend it. I had no idea.
- The Star Ferry: Operating since 1888, Star Ferry primarily operates between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, moving passengers back and forth across the harbour. Our trip across was on Meridian Star, which has apparently been operating since 1958.
- Noonday Gun: I wasn’t able to time it right, so I didn’t get to see the Noonday Gun fired, but finding the route under the road to its location was rewarding enough.
- Yim Tin Tsai: A small island which is accessible by taking a ferry from Sai Kung. Now mostly abandoned, it was once home to nearly 1000 people.
- Stanley: Famous for its market which attracts bargain hunters from all over, Stanley also features a beautiful waterfront promenade and variety of restaurants.
- Tian Tan Buddha: More often just referred to as “The Big Buddha”, this large bronze statue is located on Lantau Island. The statue stands 34m and sits atop a hill and requires a climb of 268 steps to reach the base. And, yes, I did count the steps on the way up so I can vouch for the validity of the Wikipedia article!)
- Tai O: Mainly a small fishing village, Tai O features picturesque houses located on stilts and the stereotypical narrow alleys one expects in Hong Kong.
- Cheung Chau: Accessible by ferry, Cheung Chau is a small island which features a village and many hiking trails. With the highest point just 95m above sea level, it is very accessible. Some of the highlights on the island are a cave which was reportedly used by the pirate Cheung Po Tsai and Reclining Rock. Of course, those are the typical tourist-type attractions. For us, a highlight was Fong Bin Hospital which was opened in 1872 and closed in 1988 and has been sitting and allowed to decay ever since. We didn’t go inside, but certainly wandered around the outside and took photos.
That’s all the time I have for today. I’ll conclude with Part 2 later as time permits. Hope you made it this far!