The Exploration of Hong Kong’s Alleys and Beyond
It was Monday which also happened to be my third day in Hong Kong. That day the sky still looked as murky as the day before. But that very day, I did not explore Hong Kong alone. A few weeks prior to my departure from Jakarta, I made an arrangement with a fellow blogger who lives in Hong Kong to meet up in the city. A trip accompanied by a local resident who knows the city very well is just a perfect way to understand all the places much better than going out alone, isn’t it? So, at around 8 am I met James, who has a very nice and beautifully written blog: Plus Ultra, in the front of the building where the hostel is located.
The first thing that we did was having a breakfast at a local restaurant which has a two-word Chinese name. I always tried to remember it but those two words never stay in my head for too long. He ordered a bowl of noodle with stewed beef on top of it, along with a bread and scrambled eggs. A very satisfying breakfast to start the day. Speaking of the way local people have their breakfast, it is not an uncommon thing for people to just sit right next to you at the same table if there is no more empty seat at other tables.
After finishing our breakfast, he took me to Central by the tram which is also called as Ding-Ding. It is such a nice thing to know that even in a city as modern as Hong Kong, old trams are still used as one of the main means of transportation. Central itself is aptly named for being the financial center of Hong Kong. At Central, we went through a complicated system of intertwined pedestrian pathways which James himself calls ‘The Labyrinth’ through which people can go from one building to another without having to cross the busy street at all. This is one of the things that I like the most about Hong Kong: It accommodates the pedestrians very well. Around Central, we went to an old quarter where many of Hong Kong’s old buildings are located, such as the St. John’s Cathedral and the Former French Mission building which now serves as the Court of Final Appeal.
After going in and out of the buildings at Central, then we went to the escalators which go all the way from Central to the notoriously steep hill of Hong Kong where most of residential areas are located. The escalators actually consist of several separate escalators which altogether make a long chain of hill-climbing escalators. Again, another impressive thing in Hong Kong because by having this system of escalators, the city can significantly reduce the use of cars because people can conveniently go from the hill to the city and vice versa (in the morning all the escalators are set to move downwards, but in the afternoon they are set to move upwards).
At several points we stopped to see some interesting things along the way, including a street name which was unintentionally spelled backwards when it was written, Hollywood road which has existed long before there was a Hollywood in California, a house in which Jose Rizal (a Filipino national hero) spent some times of his life, some trees with blooming bauhinia flowers and the list goes on and on. Then before lunch time we went to an old mansion which is now a museum, Dr Sun Yat-sen museum to be precise. Apart from what I could learn about the venerated Chinese statesman’s history, the building itself is such a beautiful and elegant old mansion with so many parts of it (if not all) are still intact today. Right before lunch time we got out of the building and walked around the neighborhood to see some other interesting things and old buildings.
Lunch is always a rush time, not only in Hong Kong but also everywhere else I suppose. So, to avoid the crowd we went to Kowloon (while most people headed to the other direction) by taking the famous Star Ferry and took the upper deck that time. Even though there were still clouds hanging on the sky and fog covering the peak of the hills on Hong Kong Island, I snapped some photographs for the sake of capturing the moment.
After getting off the ferry, we had lunch at a restaurant near the clock tower and ordered dim sum which is something that everyone has to try when visiting Hong Kong. My favorite are the ones with shrimps. Oh my! They taste like heaven! After savoring all the dishes until our stomachs could not take anymore of it, we headed back to Hong Kong Island by taking the same ferry, only this time at the lower deck which actually comes in cheaper price but with equally stunning view. We went to the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence which is located at the far east side of the island (more on this place on a separate post).
We spent a couple hours at the museum until it was about to close. Then we headed back to Central to have some dinner. But, that afternoon the sky got clearer and we were not that hungry yet. So we decided to go to the Peak by The Peak Tram. The tram itself is an entertainment on its own because at some points it goes from a comfortably leaning position to a very steep one. Some passengers who were standing up had to lean themselves forward in order to keep their bodies in balance. It was fun!
On my previous post I have said about the ubiquitous malls of Hong Kong. The Peak is nothing but different. As soon as we reached the terminal station, there is a shopping mall which is also the only way to get out of the tram. We did not want to watch Hong Kong’s skyline from the platform atop the mall, so we searched for the way out of that mall (or tourist trap if you will) which was not an easy thing to do. After we finally got out of it, there is another shopping mall located right in front of the first one. Then we hurried ourselves out of that place and went to a much quieter place to watch the city from above.
Watching all the lights from the skyscrapers below and listening to the faint noise of the bustling traffic felt so strangely peaceful up there. In fact, I would love to go back one day just to stand and enjoy the very same view again. After taking some photographs we decided to go back to the city because it was already a little past dinner time. But before reaching any restaurant, we did a little stroll around Central to take a look at some interesting buildings there.
We had dinner at Causeway Bay (which looked even more crowded than on my first night in Hong Kong even though it was a Monday night) near the hostel where I stayed at. We had sushi with a very decent quality of the fish but at a rather cheap price (for such quality) and ended up eating 15 plates (including some plates of sashimi). As such quantity had not been enough for us, then we went to other restaurant to have dessert which is a soft ice cream on top of a sweet potato with green tea syrup on the ice cream. Such a lovely dessert, indeed. Satisfied with the day and all food that we had from the morning until the very last dessert, then we called it a day. A very nice and unforgettable day in Hong Kong, especially after my frustration the day before because of the thick fog.