Thursday, October 02, 2014

Hong Kong

On our first day in Hong Kong we decided to head up the Victoria Peak Tram early to beat the crowds. Tons of police everywhere but our walking route did go by Government House and the US Consulate. Maybe also related to the Occupy demonstrations, although we didn't see any signs of that.

It was a fun ride up the tram. We walked around the Victoria Peak loop (about 3 km) which was thankfully mostly shaded. Can't really beat the heat by getting going early since the overnight low was +28c. We enjoyed seeing and hearing all the birds. Hong Kong is on a bird migration path and also has quite a variety of habitats so there are lots of birds around. This little guy was using his sharp beak to poke holes in the base of the flowers, presumably to extract the nectar.

bird on flower

There were also some good insects. One quite bizarre one with a giant "horn" and colourful wings.

horned insect

And lots of giant spiders, some of the biggest I've ever seen. (Shelley's hand is closer to the camera so if anything the spider is bigger than it appears here.)

giant spider

Lots of different plants and trees, a few of them flowering. And great views onto all the sides of the island. I'm not sure how whether it was smog or fog.


It never did get as busy as I'd feared at the top of the tram. So far Hong Kong overall hasn't been as people packed as I expected. Busy in spots but nothing too crazy.

We had lunch with a view and then headed down to do some sight seeing. We checked out the architecture of the HSBC building and wandered by all the high end shopping, ending up back at the airport express station since we wanted to figure out our departure. You can actually check in for your flights downtown and check in your bags up to 24 hours ahead. This will work well for us as we have to be out of the apartment in the morning but our flight doesn't leave till the evening.


Mostly because it was the only place that wasn't full we stopped for a drink at a fancy TWG tea place where we had tea infused lemonade and tea infused ice cream (both very good). They had hundreds of kinds of tea, starting at about $12 (cad not hk) per pot and going up to $20 or $30 - as bad as wine! They also had tea infused macarons but we didn't try them so I'm not sure how they compared to Michelle's.

Our apartment is in the trendy Soho area where there are lots of little bars and restaurants. We had a glass of wine before supper at Staunton's wine bar. And supper was at Herbivores, a cute little vegetarian place that only seated about 12 people, mostly at one long table. We enjoyed the lentil stuffed portobello, despite the waiter telling us it was nothing special and trying to talk us into other options.

The forecast thunderstorm finally arrived as we were eating and there was quite a downpour which luckily had mostly ended by the time we left. Sadly, it didn't seem to cool things off at all, if anything it only raised the humidity (if that's possible!)

Although there is a ton of shopping, coffee shops are in short supply. There are a few Starbucks around, and a local chain called Pacific Coffee. And don't go out too early - none of them seem to open till 7:30 or so.

General impressions -

A lot of people, not just walking around, but the multitude of huge apartment buildings.


So much shopping! Miles and miles of malls. Who buys all this stuff? Why? I admit I'm biased and tend to avoid malls and shopping, but this seems over the top! Although, I have to admit we took advantage of the mall air conditioning more than once to cool off.

I love the little walkways and stairs and escalators and the rest of the unashamedly pedestrian infrastructure. There are still cars and busy streets but there are an awful lot of people getting around on foot.

And lots of parks and trails and exercise stations. Even some specifically for seniors.

Remember I said there weren't as many people as I expected. Well Kowloon fixed that notion. Nathan Road was crazy and Kowloon Park, a supposed quiet spot in the area was almost as busy. It was fun to take the historic Star Ferry across, but we were just as happy to ride it back to the relative peace of Central. (Relative being the key word.) Afterwards we realized that one of the reasons for the crowds was that it was a national holiday. We also saw groups of the Occupy democracy protesters, which appeared peaceful but we stayed away, not wanting to take any chances of getting tear gassed or something.

Star Ferry
one of the Star Ferries
One of the busiest stores was the Apple Store in the IFC mall. It was jam packed with people every time we went by. iPhone 6's were flying out the door. And curiously, there were people out on the walkway selling iPhones out of suitcases. Were they legit? Where did they get them? Why would you buy one on the street right outside the official store?

crowded Apple Store

See all 32 photos as a slideshow or an overview

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