Possibly the two quintessential things to do in Hong Kong are to take the ferry across Victoria harbour and visit the Victoria Peak summit. I was holding out for the weather to clear a bit but unfortunately this never happened. If anything the visibility had got worse throughout the week. With today being my last day in Hong Kong the itinerary was set.
Yesterday I said that the Happy Valley races are the best deal in Hong Kong but at approximately 30p, a trip across the famous harbour on the iconic Star Ferry is up there. You can’t argue with the view either.
On Hong Kong Island I had to negotiate a maze of elevated walkways through the financial district before finding the world’s longest escalator. Hong Kong is hilly. Very hilly in fact! Therefore a series of covered escalators connect the city centre to the hills where many of the residents reside in the affluent Mid-Level area. It isn’t a continuous escalator due to gaps across streets but you can essentially get a fair way up towards Victoria Peak with very little walking involved. The single lane escalator operates downwards until 10am, presumably to get people to work, while for the rest of the day it goes up. From the top of the escalators it’s a further 45 minute walk to reach the top of Victoria Peak. Taking the tram is popular, while the bus is a cheaper option. Cheaper still and perhaps more enjoyable especially when it’s not too hot is walking up one of the various trails. As predicted the visibility from the top wasn’t great. It would obviously be amazing to see out across the harbour on a clear day, if they ever get them here! At the top of the peak there’s some nice parkland and you can also see across the other side of the island towards the South China Sea.
I was hoping to see the Frank Gehry’s Hong Kong building. From the maps it appeared to be somewhere up in the hills. The problem with hilly places is that distances on maps can be extremely deceptive. I walked around the lookout points at the peak but couldn’t be bothered hiking too far around hills to see it. Walking downhill was actually harder on the legs than going up Victoria Peak. En route I stopped off to look around the nightlife areas of Soho and Lan Kwai Fong. 3pm was not an ideal time to visit and I abstained from the £6+ pints. There will be plenty of upcoming drinking opportunities at a fraction of that price in South-East Asia.
After some tea back at the hostel I was on my way to the airport. Decent microwave meals are readily available at the hundreds of convenience stores that seem to adorn every block in Hong Kong. They’re much better than the rubbish mac and cheese or shepherd’s pie ready meals on offer back home. For under £3 I enjoyed an excellent Japanese curry.
On the way to the airport I passed the Symphony of Lights show, a nightly laser performance across Victoria Harbour. It’s probably not up to the standard of the Bellagio dancing fountains in Las Vegas but the Hong Kong skyline looks great lit up with the odd laser beam. Some people seemed a bit underwhelmed but what do they expect for free?
I’d booked four days in Hong Kong expecting that more than enough time to see everything. However I was pleasantly surprised by how much there is to do. It’s much more than a urban sprawl with plenty of outdoorsy stuff and beautiful scenery to explore. Hong Kong possesses the modern amenities and cleanliness of Singapore without feeling sterile or a bit boring. It also shares a similar degree of excitement to somewhere like Tokyo albeit as much less expense. Hong Kong is far from a budget destination but if you’re sensible and go easy on the booze you can see and do a lot here while on a budget.