Tuesday, April 22nd, 1997 - Kowloon, Hong Kong

Yet another interesting day in Hong Kong. This visit is proving to be full of surprises.

Mike woke me up at about 11 am this morning, which is probably for the best, even at that, I would have slept longer having not been woken. It seemed to just work out to sleep fairly late, I was up fairly late last night. The unfortunate side effect was that I was over-tired.

After waking, I phoned my mother, which was a good thing to do as it was about 11 pm there at the time. It is a completely different world and lifestyle. Mother seemed to be a bit distracted at the time, I found out later why.

The day was clear so we thought we would try to make it to Victoria Peak, which overlooks the harbour, the thought we had was that the first clear day, or in this case, reasonably clear day, we would go. It has been very foggy in the past few days.

We left the apartment, and proceeded to an area that Raymond had told us had electronic equipment (as a street market) so we could pick up a battery for my camera and for Mike's radio. We browsed up and down the street, seeing a lot of interesting things, only to be beset with rain for about an hour, which did not stop our browsing though we stuck to stores at that point. A lot of the various stereo and video components (including VCD) are not possible to find in North America so we were very interested in those.

We then picked up a light “lunch” at a small bakery as we had not yet eaten. It was very good, freshly baked. Prior to that we had purchased Slurpees (frozen drinks) from a local 7-11 store (the second one we have had in Hong Kong so far) as it is still very warm and humid.

After this, we proceeded on the MTR to the station on Hong Kong Island that would take us to the Peak Tram. We walked through the wonderful park there, Hong Kong Park, which has a conservatory, aviary, ponds, etc. It is quite nice. After finding the station we took the tram to the peak, which was different as the slope was VERY steep. The tram seems to rely on gravity to assist with the tram operation, there are two trams, one that goes up, the other goes down, which are connect by one long cable. The one that goes up is pulled by the one that goes down, again, with any supplemental energy needs supplied by a small motor.

At the top, we had already been informed that beyond the small mall at the Peak Tram station there was a road that led to the “real” peak, so we followed that. This was quite interesting as there are a number of very nice apartments up there, of course owned by very wealthy individuals. As we proceeded up the road we were following, we took a side road to the top of one peak that had a water reservoir (small), that had a very nice view (though a long way up). From this we spotted another peak which had a park and a nice view, which we climbed to after climbing down from the first place. At the other place, it was quite nice and we walked around the side to see Hong Kong Harbour looking basically directly west. There was a lot of traffic in the sea lanes, though the fog was coming in again so visibility was greatly diminishing.

Central from Victoria Peak

After the second peak we visited, we proceeded to a garden they had up there, from which we saw a path to yet another peak. Mike, determined not to miss anything, suggested we proceed up there also. So, off we went, up our third and final peak. By this time the fog was really bad and at the top we could only see about 50 feet away. Almost like floating in a cloud, very unnerving considering the path was quite narrow and the drop was VERY steep and would not have been nice at all to experience.

The views from all of these sites were quite spectacular, it is very interesting to see how the city has used the mountains to help its growth, apartments coming out of the side of the mountains, roads up and down them, holes through them.

Aberdeen from Victoria Peak

After the last peak, we climbed back to the tram, grabbed something to drink (and eat in the case of Mike) at McDonalds (yes, yes, no local food this time) at the station. At the bottom, we then re-visited the Hong Kong park only to find all of the exhibits closed (at this time it was about 6 pm), including the aviary and conservatory which we did not visit before we went on the tram.

We then caught the MTR to meet my pen-pal, Haley, at the station for supper. This time we met and we had a wonderful meal at a place her friend (Vickie – who also attended, specifically, I believe, because I was with Mike) recommended for Peking food (namely, Peking duck). Supper and the conversation was very good, she speaks English very well and there were only a few times of confusion which we quickly overcame. She is very pretty and interesting, I am looking forward to meeting her for lunch next week (I forgot to give her a present that Catherine gave me and a t-shirt that I picked up for her in Winnipeg before we left).

After supper, we walked down and caught the ferry (all four of us) to Central on Hong Kong Island, to see the lights. It was very pleasant and interesting to see. They pointed out where they worked and showed us a few of the buildings that are around that area. They were very nice to us and helpful.

Bank of China at Night

I commented to Haley that her English was excellent (which it was) much better than my Cantonese (which is currently limited to about 4 words/phrases). She said she was quite worried before I arrived about my being able to understand her, but she sounded very good. I am a bit disappointed I could not talk to her a bit in her own language. Because she works for the Bank of Hong Kong, she has to speak English as that is the language that is used in addition to Cantonese here.

Vickie then took the bus with us and got out at our stop to see that we were not lost. It worked out very well. She was very generous as she actually lived much further along on the bus route. They were very concerned that we did not get lost there.

After returning to the apartment, I had Raymond use his account to connect to the Internet so I could read and reply to a few pieces of electronic mail that I had received while away (at least, so far). It was good to hear from my sister, it seems like so long away…

⇒ Continue to Wednesday, April 23th, 1997 - Kowloon, Hong Kong