Saturday, November 3, 2012

HK All the way!

The unwelcome alarm sounded at 5:30 and I quickly gathered my daypack for a full day solo tour of Hong Kong. It was just getting light when I hit the streets in search of a coffee and a bus. The nearby McDonalds was not open yet and since coffee is not commonly drunk in China, I was pretty close to desperate. After checking in vain a few convenience stores in hopes of a fresh , hot coffee, I resigned myself to a cold, overly-sweetened coffee-like beverage from a vending machine.

I caught a double-decker bus to the world-famous Star Ferry Terminal. Star Ferries have been operating in Hong Kong for well over 100 years. After joyously finding an open McDonalds where I grabbed a hot coffee, I walked along the pier enjoying the views of Hong Kong from the water. The ferry ride across the harbour was breathtaking. Picture-postcard-perfect views of the immense harbour, the striking skyline, and the mountains rising up behind spread before me. The fresh ocean air on my face was refreshing and invigorating. There is nothing I like more than to be out on the water.

Hong Kong skyline from Victoria Harbour, aboard Star Ferry

After disembarking, I made my way to the bus stop area but soon realized the bus to the Victoria Peak tram did not run until 10 am. This was 3 hours away and it was too far to walk, so I hailed a cab. Cab driver was friendly and fast.
The gorgeous historical Victoria Peak tram building holds a miniature museum on the history of the tram line. I read with interest a wartime newspaper article about how Canadians had held Victoria Peak- suffering heavy bombardment, dive bombings and hand to hand combat with the invading Japanese until the eventual surrender of Hong Kong.  Before surrendering, engineers cut the tram cables so it could not be utilised by the Japanese during the occupation. This cable car was the most used method of passenger and freight transport up the side of Hong Kong until the 50s.
I enjoyed the verdant hillside as we slowly made our way up the 27 degree slope in our polished mahogany historic car to the top of Victoria Peak- close to 1800 feet above sea level. The views of Hong Kong, the harbour and neighboring Kowloon were spectacular, even through the early morning mist.

Hong Kong and Victoria Harbour from Victoria Peak

 My next stop was famous Man Mo temple where I burned incense for friends, family and a safe journey. It was a quiet and spiritual respite in the middle of a bustling street.  

Altar in Mo Man temple
  I wound my way to the Western Market, where Robin's Golden Dragon again eluded me.  I had to get a cab again after wandering vaguely toward the Ferry Terminal- I knew where it was, I was close, but just couldn’t seem to get there...  At the terminal , I at long last enjoyed a decent coffee at Starbucks.
Starbucks world wide is a great place to practise Travel Rule #1: Utilise all bathrooms presented to you (you don’t know when you will find the next one) and generally never requires the use of Travel Rule #2: always pack your own toilet paper.

I jumped off my return bus prematurely (disoriented yet again) but this mistake fortuitously led me to the famous Jade Market whereupon I finally had some souvenir-buying success. My new dark green jade dragon pendant was soon triumphantly affixed around my neck by the “I Very Honest” jade merchant. I grabbed some tasty chicken skewers from a street vendor (delish!), walked merrily back to my hotel with time to repack, refresh, and most importantly, update Facebook.

No comments:

Post a Comment