Before we started, we needed to get some cash. We had a recommendation for a certain place near TST with lots of money exchangers, but they were all closed. We would have to wait until later.
The next step was to get to the island. The quickest way would be to take the MTR, but we wanted to start off by taking the Star Ferry. We walked south until we reached the harbor, and purchased our tokens to ride the boat. It's really cheap; when converted to US dollars, fare was just a little over thirty cents per person. The boat was very old and was reversible, both for piloting the boat and sitting on the benches. There weren't too many people on board, so Liz and I sat near the front to take in the view as we approached the island.
We weren't entirely sure where we wanted to go next, so we walked an elevated passageway until it took us to the island's main drag. Hong Kong Island is very busy and compact. The traffic mostly consists of buses, taxis, and double-decker streetcars. There are private vehicles too, most of which are more expensive cars since if you're driving a private car on the island, you're probably very wealthy. We briefly searched for a place to get some money, but they were either closed, or had poor rates. We tried to do the outdoor escalator, but in the morning it is actually going downhill to bring people to work from the hills south of the central business district.
We decided to go to Hong Kong Park instead. Finding the park was actually more difficult than we originally thought. The way there was fairly hilly and the directions were not clearly marked. We eventually found it, and tried to go to the aviary. It took us a while to find. We could clearly see where it was, but it took a few wrong turns to get us to the entrance, The park is very hilly and laden with staircases, so wrong turns were costly. We couldn't go in until it opened at 9. It was a very nice place with lots of interesting birds. We walked mostly on an elevated wooden walkway. It also rained on us, but we were prepared. We took a break at the tai chi garden before continuing.
|I'm going back to my roots!|
We read in our book that the Bank of China tower has a free observatory on their 43rd floor, so we made our way there. Once again, it was not clear how to get out of the park and get to the tower, so it was a small challenge to figure out how to get there. We were disappointed to discover there is no free observatory any more. We were starting to get hungry (all that stiar climbing can work up an appetite) so went to look for dim sum - the place we wanted to go to was in city hall.
Yet again, it was difficult to find out how to get there. After some frustrated wandering, we finally found the place. It looked a lot fancier than we were expecting, but the price was reasonable enough and the food was tasty. Some things we got were shrimp wrapped in fried bean curd, fried squid tentacles, veggies wrapped in thin tofu, and the best sesame balls we've ever had (filled with custard) and egg tarts. We were very satisfied with our meal.
We finally got some money exchanged - the rate wasn't great, so we only exchanged part of it. We bought our Octopus cards (the fare card people use to pay for transit use) and decided to ride the trams. Colloquially known as "ding dings," the streetcars are double-decked, which is unique. We rode one westward to Causeway Bay, then decided to turn back and head over to the outdoor escalator.
The escalator was now going uphill, so we decided to ride it all the way up. There were lots of interesting views of the city as we ascended - and a lot of good smells, too. Along the way was a card scanner that gave people a discount on their next MTR ride if they scan their Octopus card (we did so). Once at the top, we now had to climb down. Liz decided to time herself on this one, and it took us 15 minutes to descend.
We rode the MTR back to Kowloon. Dale and I went to the ferry terminal to get our tickets to Macau (we're glad we did, as once again getting there was a confusing affair) and met back up with Liz in Kowloon Park. Afterward, we headed back to our apartment and took a power nap. We were all very tired and it was difficult to work up the will to get out of the apartment in the evening. We looked for food, and found a reasonably priced restaurant nearby that sold fairly standard Chinese food. Liz got the house specialty: "snail soup" with noodles and various fixings that you can add to it (she added a fried egg). Dale and I both got pork dishes. They also sold a Chinese equivalent of lemonade, which was effectively sugar water with slices of lemon in it.
We headed to the harbor to check out the "Symphony of Light" show. We weren't really sure what to expect, but it ended up being a 10 minute presentation playing fairly cheesy synth music and lights going off on the skyscrapers (most across the harbor, but some on our side in Kowloon). Some of the lights were interesting, but overall we weren't too impressed.
We now were more than ready to head back to the apartment and get some rest. Tomorrow: Macau!
- There is a lot of construction going on in Hong Kong, but they actually use bamboo scaffolding for their buildings. Looks precarious, but it apparently works. Even in the heart of Hong Kong Island, they use bamboo.
- There's a lot of luxury items available in Hong Kong, especially Rolex watches. Likewise, most of the cars that aren't taxis are usually expensive: Mercedes, Audi, Porsche, even a couple of Lamborghinis.
- Walking around in TST, it's fairly common for people to try to attract you into their shop to buy a custom tailored suit. I wouldn't actually buy them even if I were looking for one, though: the good tailors are probably not the ones that have people hawking their wares on the sidewalks.