Peaks and Valleys

Trip Start Sep 05, 2010
Trip End Dec 22, 2010

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

For our first full day in Hong Kong, we decided to take the ferry across to Hong Kong Island. It took about 30 minutes to walk to the ferry terminal (we accidentally went the long way), buy our ticket and get on board.  The price is ridiculously cheap given how expensive everything is here.  One token cost only $3 HKD, which is less than 50 cents.  The ferries come every 10 minutes or so and take about that long to cross the river.  It's a nice view of the skyline from the ferry and a bit of a rocky ride.

When we got off of the ferry our first order of business was finding some lunch.  We wanted to try Dim Sum/Yum Cha (depending on where your from) and headed to a restaurant suggested in our guidebook as being one of the best in Hong Kong.  The restaurant itself, called Maxim’s Palace, was in a bit of a strange location inside the city hall, which was a bit out of the way from the main eating district in town, but it was obviously very popular as the crowd out the front was enormous and we had to get a ticket.  They told us the wait would be 45 minutes and luckily there was a nice courtyard where we went to sit in the sunshine and wait our turn.  True to their word, 45 minutes later our number was called and we were escorted into the enormous dining room, that looked more like a ballroom with its gold curtains and massive chandeliers. 

I had been looking forward to eating Yum Cha in Hong Kong for days and my expectations were very high.  I had heard that the food in this town is excellent and I didn’t want to be disappointed.  The ladies serving all sorts of steamed buns, spring rolls, dumplings etc were wheeling carts around the room and we selected the dishes that we wanted.  Thankfully the carts had labels in Chinese and English, so we knew what we were getting and we definitely not disappointed, the food was great.  We filled up on pork buns, dumplings, spring rolls and sesame buns, and I also got some crispy squid with spicy salt which of course, Rich did not share.  Because of the sheer number of people in the room, it was a very noisy place to eat, but that was part of the fun and I’m glad we got to do it.  This was up there with some of the best meals of the trip and we left feeling satisfied.

The biggest tourist attraction in Hong Kong is "The Peak", the tallest hill in the area behind the city with great views of the harbor and skyline.  To get there you catch the peak tram and it was here that we next walked to.  The ride on the tram, which is really a funicular pulled up the hill by a cable, cost about $8 USD each.  The only real problem with the tram is that it can’t really cope with the sheer number of tourists trying to use it.  There are only two trams that go up and down and it is about 8 minutes between each one.  With thousands of people trying to go up and down, it makes for an unpleasant wait.  We waited about 45 minutes to get on the tram and then headed up the hill.  The ride itself was a little scary as it is really steep and I couldn’t help but think what would happen if that cable snapped!  Thankfully that didn’t happen and we alighted at the top.  The station lets everyone off into a big mall filled with lots of crappy souvenirs and it took us some time to work out how to get out.  We were getting very frustrated because we felt like we were trapped in the mall and that there was no exit.  We eventually found it and went outside to take pictures.  We didn’t spend too long at the top as we had other places we wanted t see, but there were a lot of shops and cafes catering to the hoards of tourists that visit the lookout.  The view id quite spectacular and would be amazing at night, but I can only imagine how many people try to get up on the tram at night, it must be a nightmare!

We had to wait in line for another 30 minutes to get down again and once we got off we walked to the nearby Hong Kong park.  This was quite a nice park in the middle of the city and had a huge aviary in the middle.  We walked through the aviary and then headed into the popular parts of the city where many trendy restaurants, bars and cities are located.  There is no way we could afford to eat here!  We also walked through one of the wet markets selling lots of produce and seafood and meat.  BY now we had to head back to the ferry as I had a date to talk with my parents on Skype later that afternoon, but as we walked on the raised skybridges that criss cross the city we noticed a very strange phenomenon.  We had seen it earlier, but didn’t know what it was and the more we walked, the more we couldn’t figure it out.  Basically, there were hundreds and hundreds of groups of women sitting on the skybridges, on the side of the roads, in the parks, anywhere there was a bit of space.  They had flattened cardboard boxes or blankets to sit on and many where sharing meals and others were just chatting, or playing cards or other games.  We could not work out why they were all out in the street.  We wondered if the apartments here are too small for get together, or if there was another explanation.  It was very strange.

After getting back to our room and chatting with mum and dad, it was time for our evening outing.  We decided to head to the Temple street night market and to get there we needed to catch the train.  We eventually figured out the ticketing system, got to the right stop and found our way to the market.  We looked for somewhere to eat and there wasn’t a lot on offer, so we decided to eat at one of the street market restaurants that were spilling onto the street.  These places looked very busy, had full size chairs and didn’t look too dirty, so we gave it a go.  We were glad we did as the food was very good.  I had a Chinese chicken curry that was big enough to feed 4 people and Rich had sweet and sour pork.  The meal only cost us $20 including drinks, which is an absolute bargain for Hong Kong.  Once we finished our dinner we walked around the night market for some time, but the quality of the stuff there wasn’t that good.  We then decided we would walk back to our hotel, as it was only one train stop away and we weren’t ready to call it a night yet.  It was still super busy out on the streets and it was nice to see all of the Christmas lights.  All in all, we had a great day today.
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lala on

The women sitting on the streets are philipinnos who works in HK. They got holidays every Sunday and they love sitting on the streets

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