After a good night’s rest and a bit of a sleep in, we walked over to Coffee Academics for breakfast. Kris got real English Breakfast Tea in a bodum and a proper tea cup and I had a solid coffee. We are no longer in mainland China!
Hong Kong is made up of 260 individual islands, the people speak Cantonese, English and Mandarin. It’s a limited democracy (compared to communist ‘mainland’ China). Spitting is illegal in HK – we like that! It certainly does not feel like China at all. In the weirdest ways though. Lots of English, that’s obvious. But the infrastructure is more worn and things look older. In China everything (roads, bridges, buildings) were new, here everything feels slightly shabbier. I guess if we went back to China in 30 years things would look shabbier maybe? There is also a lot less public smoking. We like that a lot too.
We’ve found English everywhere too. That was mostly expected and a nice reprieve. Just like in Vancouver and London there is a Metrocard called the Octopus card. It’s actually the same backend software as Vancouver CompassCard so we are very familiar with the operation. Easy to tap in and tap out and with the “on loan” cards loaded up with enough money and off we went.
Right at our metro station there is a huge Pokémon thing. When we were in Florence a few years ago Pokémon GO came out and the boys were into it. So we had to snap a shot or two.
We headed for the Central Mid-Levels Escalator which is the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world. The whole trip half-way up the mountain takes 15-20 minutes from bottom to top. The escalators run ‘downhill’ for the morning commute, then change to ‘uphill’ after 1000. We waited till after the rush and went up. Total distance is approximately 800 meters. It is a series of 20 escalators (the covered green part) and several moving sidewalks with a dozen entry and exit points.
We stopped at a couple interesting places.
We watched an artist painting part of a mural. It’s going to be amazing when it’s done.
In addition to subways (MTR) and double decker buses, there are very narrow and tall street cars (trams). A city of 7+ million needs lots of transit for sure, but I’m a bit surprised at the variety.
The top of the escalator got us sort of close to the Victoria Peak Tram but we had to walk across the hill a bit. Somehow we ended up in a botanical garden and small zoo with an orangutan, some lemurs and monkeys. As well as a very friendly cat. We were making monkey noises at some squirrel monkeys and I guess the kitty thought we sounded nice so she came over purring and demanding attention. We obliged. The only downside to that experience was the local mosquitoes liked Kris.
The Victoria’s Peak tram / funicular takes about 6 minutes to go up to the top and is worth the view on a great day like today. The old tram on display.
The actual current one.
From the top there are some great vistas back down to Kowloon Bay.
That red house in the bottom right has to be worth a small (no, large) fortune! There was a Tesla and a Porsche parked outside.
At the top there also was a good pizza place for lunch. And excellent local brews
There is also a walking path in a garden like space. We took a stroll enjoying the great weather. Again, mosquitoes were a bit of an issue. Tomorrow we will remember the bug spray.
So far, Hong Kong is all about shopping. High end, middle and “real brands, big discount” markets. We used the bathroom at the high end mall (nice marble and piped in music) but shopped at the Wet Market on Marble Street. The Wet Market used to be just fish and meats but now has lots of kids clothes and other interesting foods. We have bought so much tea and other souvenirs, we decided if we could find an inexpensive carry on roller-board we’d invest. The second store we haggled at had the right deal. Thankfully that was also our last stop of the day so we didn’t have to haul it around. It’s actually much much higher quality than I expected and may even replace my normal business traveler one I’ve had for years.
Once cleaned up at the hotel, we headed back to Times Square for dinner (maybe a 5 minute walk). There are 3 floors of restaurants and lots of variety. Tonight we looked at all the menus. We chose a place called Mad for Garlic. Kind of pasta/steak/seafood but all garlic. It looked good enough to try so we did. Everything had garlic in it except the wine. Even the ice cream for desert. Roasted garlic and blueberries on vanilla ice cream – we should all experience that! It did taste good although the service was a bit… random. The waitress admitted she was only part time and in for a 4-hour shift tonight. We will probably go back to the other places over the next few days we are here.
Tomorrow we head over to Lantau Island to see giant Buddha.