The Old Fogies visit The Peak in Hong Kong

One of the main attractions of Hong Kong is The Peak also known as Victoria Peak which is the highest mountain on Hong Kong Island, at 552 m (1,811 ft).

In the 19th century, the Peak attracted European residents who enjoyed the panoramic views over the city and its coolness especially in the searing heat of the summer. However its steepness was a problem and many of the residents would hire or own Sedan Chairs which would be carried by locals. There was an increase in residential development with the opening of the Peak Tram in 1888.

The Peak Tram is a funicular railway in Hong Kong, which carries passengers to the upper levels of the Peak. The Peak Tram is another of Hong Kong’s attractions which transports of seven million passengers a year.

We joined the queue at the lower terminus station and looked at the The Peak Tram Historical Gallery where over 200 pieces of memorabilia of the Tram and Hong Kong are exhibited. The station has a single track, with platforms on both sides. One platform is used for boarding, the other for exiting the tram.

There was some excitement as the Tram arrived and boarding took place, the Peak Tram’s route covers a distance of about 1.4 kilometres (0.87 mi) and an elevation of just under 400 metres (1,312 ft), initially there is little to see but as the Tram climbs, more panoramic views appear. Near to the top, there is more excitement with the ‘The Peak Tram illusion’, this illusion occurs on the uphill journey when the high rises of Hong Kong on the right ride of the tram appear to fall toward The Peak. This illusion is due to the tilt of the tram and the reclining body position of passengers inside the tram.

Arriving at the top, you enter the Peak Tower shopping and leisure complex which has numerous food options, shops,  Madame Tussauds and the Sky Terrace where you can enjoy 360 degree views for a fee.

Residents were originally drawn to the Peak because of its views and coolness and we looked forward to escaping the hot humid conditions with a walk around the summit of the Peak. One of the most popular walks is the loop along Lugard Road and Harlech Road which takes you on a circuit around the summit.

Moving away from the crowds at Peak Tower, you enter a different sort of wonderland full of strange tree foundations and waterfalls. Gradually views of Pok Fu Lam reservoir and the the outlying islands appear.

For many decades, the residents of the Peak were European and often part of the colonial administrative elite, however since the handover of Hong Kong it has been wealthy Chinese who have paid large amounts of money to buy properties on Peak making them some of the most expensive in the world. For all the wealth, access to the properties is problematic with narrow, steep tracks to overcome.

With the only the odd walker and jogger, the walk was a pleasant change from the frantic pace of the city with a number of vantage spots along the way to enjoy the fantastic views and information boards that give information about trees and wildlife.

Towards the end of the walk, you are rewarded with spectacular views of Kowloon, New Territories and the harbour before arriving back at the Peak Tower complex.

After a few days of high humidity and crowds, the Peak was a welcome change of pace and with some reluctance we made our way back to the Tram and frantic city streets.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.

The Old Fogies go to Hong Kong

 

We arrived in Hong Kong, the first destination of our round the world trip after a tiring overnight flight from London. Although quite weary, we were feeling extremely pleased with ourselves after surviving the first long flight on our journey.

Fortunately, Hong Kong International Airport is not too far from the centre of Hong Kong and the Airport Express train provides a quick and comfortable journey to the Hong Kong station stop. From this station there are a series of free shuttle buses that will take you particular hotels. We had decided to stay at a hotel that was a little way out from the Central district but had good transport connections.

Our traveling up this point had been quite smooth and straightforward, however this was due to change as the coach got snarled up in traffic. The roads were busy and the heat was beginning to build, after about an hour we finally arrived at the hotel. It was only when we got off the coach that we realised how hot and steamy it was, fortunately the hotel was air-conditioned so we stepped through its doors and embraced the coolness.

In the foyer was a board with information about typhoons, one had hit Hong Kong and Macau a few weeks before causing considerable damage especially in Macau. We had intended to visit Macau, however it was still struggling to deal with the damage and therefore we decided not to travel there.

Hong Kong in September can be really hot and steamy, but we were shocked by humidity levels of 98%, Mr Curmudgeon said that he did not believe humidity could be so high, we moan in London when it is about 25%!

Hot and steamy weather with high humidity became the theme of our stay in Hong Kong and any sightseeing was combined with going inside buildings to enjoy the air conditioning.

Hong Kong is an extremely interesting place that is going through its own transition from British colonial outpost to part of the Chinese empire. Recent demonstrations in Hong Kong suggest that this change is not without its conflicts, however there is a sense that Hong Kong is changing at a frantic pace.

Part of that change is the importance of commerce, large shopping areas dominate much of the Central and Kowloon areas with a large number of luxury brand shops. In contrast, the old Hong Kong neighbourhoods have a large number of traditional markets especially in Kowloon which cater for a wide range of tastes.

Even if Hong Kong is geared towards retail and commerce, there is plenty to interest the traveller. The Star Ferry and Peak Tram are historical relics of Hong Kong’s colonial past and the architecture is a mix of old and modern.

Surprisingly, Hong Kong is not just an urban landscape but is surrounded by natural landscapes with many walks and parks that will take you away from the high rises. Even in the Central area, visitors can enjoy the natural beauty of the Peak.

A trip to one of the racecourses will allow visitors to see the locals at play enjoying top class horse racing. Our visit to Sha Tin provided lots of fun and entertainment in a unique setting located in the New Territories.

We did feel that we had only scratched the surface in the few days we had in Hong Kong and would like to return and discover more of a fascinating place in which the West meets East in a number of interesting ways. Hong Kong can seem very familiar due to its British colonial past, however there are other aspects that reflect more Chinese influence that are less familiar and can surprise visitors.

For more details of our trip, read our individual posts about Hong Kong which charts our visits to some of its attractions and more unusual aspects.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.