Victoria Harbour dominates Hong Kong and one of the main sights in the harbour is the green Star Ferries that ply their trade between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.
The ferries have iconic status in Hong Kong because for over 100 years, they have been a reassuring constant in a century of change. The Star Ferry Co Ltd was created in 1898 to cater for the large number of people who wanted an inexpensive crossing between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. Today, many of the commuters using the service have been replaced by the many visitors who are keen to take a ride on the old ‘workhorses’.
The Star Ferry operates on the cross-harbour routes between Central to Tsim Sha Tsui and Wan Chai to Tsim Sha Tsui and also run a Harbour Tour tourist cruise which takes a circular route to all the Tsim Sha Tsui, Central and Wan Chai stops.
We went to the Central Pier to get the ferry and looked around some displays about the Star Ferry before making our way to the embarkation point. You can travel on upper or lower deck but the trip is so inexpensive that most visitors travel on the upper deck.
To enter the part of the pier where you get onto the ferry, you need to pay your fare by getting tokens, which are available in the vending machines at the piers. You then drop your tokens in the turnstile to enter, cash is not accepted on the ferries, passengers must use an Octopus Card (pre-paid card) or buy tokens to pay for the ride.
Aboard the ferry, there are rows of wooden seats and small windows which gave wonderful views of the harbour as the ferry slowly makes its way across the harbour. In many ways, Star Ferries are a relic of the past and that is part of their appeal, they have plenty of character and symbolic importance for Hong Kong.
The short trip was soon over and we made our way down the ramp and onto the pier at Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon.
Watching the ferry making its way back into a now murky harbour, it was somewhat reassuring that in a city that was hurtling into the future, there were ties to the past that are respected and enjoyed. For centuries, ferries were the only way to make the crossing between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon but now Victoria Harbour is crossed by railway and road tunnels. However the romance of the Star Ferry still carries on with tourists and commuters making the short journey and enjoying the wonderful views of the harbour.
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.
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