Visiting Hong Kong Island

The top tourist attraction on Hong Kong Island is definitely Victoria peak. We’re not talking here about the actual peak (which is a little higher up) – normal people don’t care about these technicalities. If the road stops there and it says “Victoria Peak” and there’s a 5 story shopping mall with a viewing platform on top, then it must be the peak.

There are 3 ways to get there. Tram is the most expensive (5 EUR return) and the most crowded, with cues of over one hour. No thanks. Then there’s bus no 15 from Central Pier. A little over one EUR one way. Still pass. Third option – walk. Free. Took a bunch of escalators (apparently the longest such system in the world), then climbed for another 40 minutes or so. Went into the mall, up to the observation deck. Entry fee 7 EUR. Expect huge crowds! We were there around sunset and the area was packed. Still, with a lot of patience we managed to get in front and capture some nice shots. Afterwards took the bus down the peak. Still had to wait for maybe half an hour in a queue that almost circled a building.

Had a free walking tour. Got to find out about the province’s political situation (complicated..). Also learned about Feng Shui  and the “war” between HSBC and The Bank of China. It seems Bank of China’s building was designed to resemble a knife pointed towards its competitor HSBC. To counteract, HSBC installed something resembling a cannon on its roof, pointing towards the BoC building. I’m not making this up.

HSBC also has some pretty famous pretty awesome lion statues in front. BoC apparently hired an artist to make them some awesome-er lions. The statues the artist came up with were .. well, interesting from an artistic viewpoint, but not as ferocious as the bank wanted. So BoC had to order another set of lion statues.

One of the HSBC lions

There are a lot of skyscrapers on Hong Kong Island. Real estate here is very expensive and everything had to develop vertically. Since most buildings are corporate, we had to google a little to find the ones which were open to the public. We went up to the 46th floor of Central Plaza. When it was built in 1992, it was the tallest building in Asia. The land it’s on was bought for 600.000 EUR per square meter. I warned you this area is expensive.

The Hopewell Center has a glass elevator. You first have to get to the 17th floor. Because of the steep terrain, this floor is actually at ground level on the mountain side. From here take the elevator to The Grand Buffet restaurant. We got some pretty good views of the concrete jungle that is Hong Kong Island. We got up, but had no intention to dine there, so we went back down. Great views, pretty thrilling if you’re afraid of heights.

Rode the double decker tram. This is the only place in the works where you can find such trams. By far the best seats are the front ones on the upper deck. To get them, hop on a couple of stops before terminus. At terminus, most people will descend and you’ll get those seats before everybody waiting to board.

If seeing somebody fire an antique canon sounds like fun to you, check out noonday gun. Cover your ears.

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