Happy New Year!
Today was to be a big travel day, so we headed off around 0900 to get a jump on the day. We took the bus down to Central,and then the Peak Tram up to the top of Victoria Peak. This peak tram goes up 500m in about 10 minutes. At one point, you are sitting at a 45 degree angle to the buildings outside. Very weird. Up at the peak, there are a variety of shops, and the everpresent McDonalds (I think they are more frequent here, than they are in Vancouver!) We wandered up to the 3rd level observation area and had a nice view over the back of the peak, and one of the reservoirs that HK uses for their fresh water supply. We considered having breakfast up there, but after looking at the prices of the restaurants (other than McD’s – which I’m not going to stoop to, while here in Hong Kong) we decided we could wait. We found the Lions Pavilion lookout, and took various pictures of the Downtown core and environs. The also everpresent haze was annoying. It reduced the sharpness of some of my pictures, but we did end up with some superb shots. I also got a great picture of a black kite flying overhead, since overhead wasn’t so far up from here 🙂
Central from Victoria Peak:
We took the doubledecker bus down from the peak, and I tried to shoot a few more pictures as we descended. Amusement park rides have NOTHING on this. Twists, turns, lurches! Yeeehhaaa!!! I got a great picture of the 10th tallest residential building in the world “HighCliff” At 77 stories, it’s a LONG way to go down if elevator breaks down!
Having descended safely from the peak, it was time to head out to Cheung Chau (長洲/长洲), Mrs D’s father’s ancestral home. We walked from the bus stop, past the IFC (88 story business complex – highest in Hong Kong),
and went over to catch the ferry to Cheung Chau. The Ferry is a catamaran system, and you sit inside, and have small windows for your outside viewing pleasure. This meant that it was easy to feel queasy from the roll of the ocean. As the vessel got up to speed,it must have a hydroplane, as things smoothed out somewhat. The Mrs and I took advantage of the 30-40 minute trip to catch up on missing sleep.
When we got to Cheung Chau,it was lunch time, so we found our way to a little noodle restaurant which was no more than a bunch of tables and stool seats under a series of tarps, and had some fish balls in soup with noodles. (I swear this city LIVES on fish balls). With something in our bellies, we proceeded to wander the streets and alleys of Cheung Chau. There are no cars on the island, so there were many bicycles to make up for it. You had to be careful to make sure you didn’t wipe some poor cyclist out when you decide to look at the stall on your left instead of right. The stalls were full of locals selling various touristy goods, as well as fruits and vegetables, and dried fish. Lots of different types of dried seafood.
We visited a Buddhist Temple, and photographed some of the interesting art on the outside (they wouldn’t let us shoot inside for some reason). After the temple, it was across the narrow part of the island over to a sandy beach. We were close to where Mrs D’s dad grew up, and she explained a lot of the local aspects of the island. Apparently many Hong Kong people come over to the island and rent a room for the weekend, and enjoy the beach.
On this “cold” 18C day, the beach was empty. Not the case in the summer time apparently. Mrs D’s dad’s family actually has a small shrine here on the island, so we stopped by, snapped some pics, and Mrs D burned some incense. Very interesting. Her family obviously has a LONG tradition on this island.
Fishing boats tied up at Cheung Chau:
1430 came along, and it was time to go off to see the giant bronze Buddha on Lantau island. Onto another ferry (this one much smaller), and chug across the straight to Lantau island. Once there we took a coach style bus up to the Bronze Buddha at Ngong Ping. (http://www.geocities.com/asiaglobe/gallery/hk-buddha.htm ) The Po Lin Monastery and Buddha are located at the top of the mountains. The bus ride up passes by a very large reservoir, and the one lane road often has cows wandering on it, and other busses coming down! Yowch! (I’m glad I don’t drive here!) We got to the base of the stairs to the Buddha by about 1630. I looked up the stairs – they seemed to go forever. Were we going to be able to make it up there before the 1730 closing time? Well… Up we went. and up, and up. Stopping to take a picture or two along the way, we kept hoping that the next steps would give better views, and lighting than the one previous.
The Bhudda is 220 tonnes, and is about 26m high! It took 10 years to build – being unveiled in 1993.
We got to the top, and were dwarfed by the enormity of this bronze statue. You could really feel the size. We took a number of interesting photos, and headed back down. Once we were down, we went over to the monastery, where the Shaolin monks had been giving Kung Fu demonstrations in the morning, and one of them was doing some exquisite painting at the time. Very detailed. Excellent work. The temple area, which is open to the public had some beautiful gold leafed Buddhas and they allowed photography, so we got some memorable pictures of the temple. When all was said and done, it was almost 1800, and we had to hurry, as we were late for dinner back at Hat Ka Hut, down in Causeway bay.
We met up with Uncle number 4, Simon, Vicki, Christine, Barry, and Justin for dinner. I think I prefer the Dim Sum to the regular dinner at this restaurant. After dinner, it was back to the apartment, and an hour to get reorganized before heading out to Lan Kwai Fong. Phew! A great circle tour of the Hong Kong area, What a whirlwind!
Night came, and it was my turn to venture out by myself. I was armed with my Octopus card, and a cell phone. Mrs D let me have some HKD so that I could buy some drinks, and a taxi if needed. I left the appartment, and caught my bus OK. Then, I sat on the bus, watching everything closely as it passed by. I didn’t want to miss my stop! I made it to Central. I found the MTR and called Baggy. “I’m at exit J – where are you?”, I said. He said, “D”. Urrgh…more walking. I finally hook up with Baggy, and it’s good to see a familiar face so far from home! We headed up to Lan Kwai Fong, in search of some dancing and partying.
We got to Lan Kwai Fong, and walked up and down the “bar streets” The bars appeared to mostly the sit and chat type of bars. Not the “Get your party on!” type of bars. I had been cautioned before not to look for “Nightclubs” as they are “Gentlemen’s” bars, where one can get a little “company”. We were ok for that, as there didn’t seem to be any around here. For that matter it seemed to be mostly tourists, and for the most part everyone was simply sitting around drinking at 2200, not partying. I suggested that I had seen some “clubs” down around TST east, so we hopped on the MTR and arrived. Where? I dunno. I was sure I knew the area. Not so much now 😦 We wandered a bit this way, and a bit that way. Then we decided to ask for some help. Aha! we were heading the wrong way. Oops.
We got to the area that I knew, and we started finding “Nightclubs”, and wine bars…No partying. Bummer. We approached somebody on the street, and I think he thought we were going to mug him. He had the “deer in the headlights” look. Anyway he said “If you want the party action – Lan Kwai Fong!” Urrgh. We wandered a bit more, and then decided to head BACK to Lan Kwai Fong. Back on the MTR, and “Poof!” back to Lan Kwai Fong. We decided to stop at one bar and at least have a drink. It was midnight, and I was itching for a cold beer. Pints of Carlsberg please. They were cold and tall! Excellent. Oh, and the bar was closing in 30 minutes, so this was last call. Great. From this bar, we went back to a bar that had a live band playing. It was 80’s tunes, and the stage area was packed with people pulsing to the rhythm. FINALLY! at 0030 we FOUND some partying! We stayed and sang along with the band to all the music, and grooved, and checked out all the good looking girls. At 0200 we decided to call it a night, as I had no idea what Mrs D had planned for me the next morning.
Baggy ordered me a cab, and I think the cab took the longer way home. Oh well, it wasn’t too bad. I really couldn’t hear much, as my ears had a very loud hissing ring going. It had been REALLY loud in the club. When I got home, I realized that I smelt like an ashtray. I miss BC’s non-smoking regulations. Shower at 0230 in the morning, and pass out – not from drinking, but from the long, long day!