Hong Kong Adventures – The Peak Tram

by FI Fighter on November 30, 2016

in Hong Kong, Travel Updates

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After spending “Black Friday” visiting Lantau Island and finally getting a chance to check out the magnificent Tian Tan Buddha statue up close, I figured I would keep the momentum train going, and check out some more “touristy ” sites. Up to now, for the most part, I’ve been more fixated with kind of exploring stuff that’s more under the radar, but I kind of always knew in the back of my mind that I would eventually get around to checking out the “main attractions”.

This past Monday, I decided to hop onboard The Peak Tram, located on Garden Road, so that I could ascend up to the Peak Tower and check out Sky Terrace 428, which gives visitors probably one of the more spectacular views of the Hong Kong skyline…

Early Morning (7:00 AM)

I woke up around 7:00 AM in the same manner that I always do — It usually takes me anywhere between 5-10 seconds before I realize that I’m no longer living in the Bay Area… Once my mind starts ramping up, I make sure to check out my window and admire the gorgeous view. On this particular morning, the sun was out, the skies were clear, the children were laughing in the playground, and all was good in my part of the world…

As is typical, I proceeded to do basically nothing for the next half hour or so… Just messing around on my phone and catching up on the latest news, headlines, and investing updates happening stateside… After that, I went outside and grabbed some light breakfast…

With most of my days, quite honestly, I don’t plan… like ANYTHING… I’m very much a “go with the flow” type of guy, so I like to live with the motto that, “Whatever happens, happens…

After breakfast, I was feeling pretty tired for whatever reason, and ended up crashing in bed again for another 45 minutes or so…

Not even 10:00 AM yet, and I already got my first nap in for the day! 🙂

But after catching hold of a “second wind”, I decided, “Ok, today I’m going out to Hong Kong Island and I’m going to check out The Peak Tram… Let’s make it happen!

I then asked my mom what she had planned for the day… Her reply was, “Nothing… Just lead the way and I’ll follow.

What an awesome travel companion!!

Heading Out to HK Island (1:00 PM)

Before leaving the apartment, though, I did spend an hour or so catching up with some friends, chatting on Line, WhatsApp, iMessage, gmail, etc.. That, and yes, I did tune in to the Australian markets (ASX), just to see if anything interesting was going on…

As a chronic procrastinator, I actually didn’t get out the door until about 1:00 PM… Since I live way out in the boonies in Tuen Mun, I generally prefer to get an early start on the day, whenever possible… But I tend to cut myself a lot of slack because I know that lagging is something I’m quite good at doing whenever I’m freelancing and not following a set schedule/routine…

Nevertheless, I finally made it out to the bus stop… To get to HK Island, it takes awhile for me, but it’s a simple, straightforward route to get there — Get onboard the 962X CityBus and you’re good to go!

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It takes me about 1 hour and 15 minutes or so to get from the boonies to civilization… On the bus rides, I usually just close my eyes and rock out to tunes on my iPod…

It’s funny to me that I’m probably out in Kowloon or HK Island about every other day, but the long bus/train rides to get there never seem to bother me… at all… But back in the day when I was a worker bee engineer, like, I would almost NEVER visit San Francisco… My excuse? It was too damn far and over 1 hour away!

How things can change on a dime post-FI, let me tell you…

Lunch at Pololi (2:30 PM)

I got off at the Jardine House stop in Central and knew exactly where I wanted to head to next… Just recently, I discovered this pretty tasty poke joint in HK Island called Pololi

I got to Pololi around 2:30 PM

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I’ll be honest with you guys, after living in Hong Kong since July, at this point in time, I’m pretty much sick and tired of eating your traditional HK meal — Dim sum, char siu, roast pork, Hainan chicken, etc.. You get the idea…

Unfortunately for me, in order to get something outside the realm of conventional, I usually have to travel some good distance (e.g. HK Island)… Luckily, “time is NOT really of the essence” for me anymore, so I really don’t mind these hour long trips…

Quite frankly, I’m just ecstatic that they even know what poke is here in HK! 🙂

The following pic was taken a week earlier, when I visited Pololi for the very first time… I didn’t snap up images on this particular day, but what I had was more or less the same thing…

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Here was my order (on the right):

  • 1/2 white rice
  • 1/2 salad with no dressing
  • Spicy Korean poke
  • Thai poke

My mom ordered the following (on the left):

  • 1/2 white rice
  • 1/2 salad with no dressing
  • Wasabi poke
  • Seaweed poke (I forget exactly, but I think this was what she got…)

 

Pretty good stuff! Recently I learned that there’s another poke restaurant in town, located in Wan Chai… I haven’t tried out the competition yet, so I’m eager to see how any alternative options stack up… But for now, Pololi is one of my favorite restaurants to visit whenever I’m in HK Island… It’s somewhat affordable at around ~$11 USD per bowl… Not cheap, but for HK Island, not extravagant either…

The Peak Tram (3:45 PM)

We walked around Central for a bit, before heading over to Garden Road, which is where the Peak Tram terminal is located…

Since I had never done this excursion before, I had no idea what to expect… I figured that since I was visiting on a Monday afternoon, the wait/lines shouldn’t be too bad…

Oh boy, how I was so badly mistaken…

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After arriving at The Peak Tram (across the street from the Consulate General of The United States Of America buildings… Just look for the Pacific Coffee sign and you’ll know you’re in the right place), I was greeted to the above monstrosity!

On a Monday afternoon, are you freekin’ kidding me?!?

So, apparently there are a ton of tourists visiting HK this time of year… Or maybe, it’s like this all year round? I have no idea, but man, The Peak Tram is no doubt a popular “tourist trap”…

I waited in line for over an hour (under the bridge) before I was given permission by the staff and allowed to walk across the street… so that I could wait in another long line… DOH!

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Pricing for The Peak Tram Sky Pass (round trip tram ride + Sky Terrace 428 view up top) is $88 HKD (~$11.36 USD) for adults…

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Similar to my experience with the Ngong Ping 360 cable cars, all it takes is a good bit of patience, and you’ll eventually make your way to the front of the line…

After waiting in line for another 45 minutes or so…

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Here we go… AT LONG LAST!

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The ride itself is very short… It sort of feels like taking the cable cars in San Francisco… In this case, it’s just about two stops to get from the Garden Road base terminal to the Peak Tower

The Peak Tower (5:30 PM)

The Peak Tower is a shopping complex located near the summit of Victoria Peak. The main attraction here is Sky Terrace 428.

From The Peak.

The Sky Terrace 428, standing at 428 metres above sea level, is the highest viewing platform in Hong Kong offering a stunning 360-degree panoramic view across the Hong Kong. Whether you visit The Peak in the morning, afternoon or nighttime, The Sky Terrace 428 is a scenic spot that you should not miss!

Here is the view outside of The Peak Tower.

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Gotta admit, it looks pretty cool at night… And seeing all the lights, people, hustle and bustle all around, it creates a certain ambiance that you just can’t get out in the boonies…

Sky Terrace 428 (6:00 PM)

At around 6:00 PM, I made it up to the top floor of The Peak Tower, which takes you to Sky Terrace 428.

Here’s a shot I snapped with my iPhone, you can see the International Commerce Centre (ICC) lit up to the left…

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Pretty spectacular view of HK, and yes, it is absolutely jammed packed up here! You gotta fight the crowds to get a good viewing angle…

But rather than living life behind a lens (there are lots of folks who bring their fancy DSLR cameras up here), I decided to just chill out and soak everything up…

Whenever I see tall buildings and lots of lights at night, I’m always reminded of my first visit to Times Square in NYC… The following pic of Times Square in NYC was taken in May 2014.

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Both times, whether we are talking about NYC or HK Island, the message that I heard in my head was this — “Sky’s the limit… You gotta dream BIG, son!

Sky Terrace 428, what an incredible viewing experience; you are EASILY worth the price of admission!

The Peak Galleria (7:00 PM)

After spending about a good hour at Sky Terrace 428, I decided to descend back down, exit The Peak Tower, and head on over next door to another shopping complex, The Peak Galleria.

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The Peak Galleria is much smaller and less crowded than The Peak Tower

But they’ve got a lot of different food options here to entice you to visit!

Mak’s Noodle (7:15 PM)

Mak’s Noodle, in particular caught my eye, and around 7:15 PM, you could say that the effects of Pololi from earlier in the day were starting to wear off… I was getting plenty hungry again for a good meal!

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Mak’s Noodle is a chain that can be found throughout Asia… In HK, it’s pretty popular and I’ve heard it mentioned on more than one occasion… Up to this point, I hadn’t really paid too much attention to Mak’s Noodle, though, because… well, noodle soup is found on EVERY CORNER in HK, basically… 😉

But on this night, the following sign caught my eye…

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Michelin Recommended Restaurant 2009, 2010 & 2011

Damn, alright… alright… I’ll bite… Let’s go grab a table…

Here’s the menu.

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I had to order what the chain is known for — Tossed Noodles with Chutney Pork.

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And curiosity will almost certainly force you to try the Wonton Noodle Soup, the other item Mak’s Noodle is known for…

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All in all, both entrees were decent… Michelin quality? Nah, more like quick, convenient fast food… Pricing isn’t too bad (about typical what you’d find at any comparable HK noodle shop), but the portions are extremely tiny, so buyer beware… If you’ve got a good appetite going, plan on ordering more than one entree, for sure…

The Peak Galleria (7:45 PM)

A Symphony of Lights show starts in HK starts at 8:00 PM

What in the world is A Symphony of Lights, you ask?

From Wikipedia.

The show is organised by the Hong Kong Tourism Board and is displayed every night with good weather at 8 pm Hong Kong Time (UTC+8). An orchestration of music, decoration lights, laser light displays, and pyrotechnic fireworks, the multimedia light and sound show lasts for around 14 minutes and was conceptualised, created, and installed by Laservision.[2]

The best vantage points include the “Avenue of Stars” on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, on the waterfront promenade outside the Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai and on sightseeing ferries (i.e. Star Ferry) running across the Victoria Harbour. The Show’s music and narration live at the “Avenue of Stars” and the promenade outside the Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai every night. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays the narration is in English, while it is in Mandarin on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and Cantonese on Sundays.

Special pyrotechnic fireworks will be added to the show on the rooftop of participating buildings on both sides of the harbour or stages off at the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront. They are used on special events or holidays, like Chinese New Year and Christmas.

 

Well, the show was about to begin soon, but I had a good 15 minutes to waste, so I just browsed around some shops inside the mall…

These guys are a hit in HK!

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A Symphony of Lights (8:00 PM)

Alright, 8:00 PM on the dot, time to head on over to The Peak Galleria Green Terrace (nice view, less crowded, FREE, but you’re not as high up as Sky Terrace 428)…

Nevertheless, the view from The Peak Galleria Green Terrace was plenty good enough for a non-photo enthusiast like myself…

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You certainly can’t hear anything, but you can sorta see the lights emanating from Tsim Sha Tsui, across the water…

I haven’t checked out A Symphony of Lights yet, but that’s for sure on my “to do list”… Yes, I’m planning on going multiple times so that I can enjoy the show from both Tsim Sha Tsui (Avenue of Stars) and Wan Chai (Golden Bauhinia Square).

Is the Sky Terrace 428 view worth the extra costs/wait/crowds, relative to what you get from The Peak Tower Green Terrace?

I think so… I mean at least just once, anyway… If we’re talking about multiple visits and trips, no, I would bypass The Peak Tram and Sky Terrace 428 package entirely… Too many tourists for my taste…

Waiting in Line… Again (9:15 PM)

The line to get back home… Another hour wait!

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See what I mean about “too many tourists?”

Eventually, though, progress was made and the line was vanquished!

Heading Back Home (10:15 PM)

On the way to the 962X bus stop so that I could get back home, I made sure to snap up a shot of HK Island (Central), at night…

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HK is peaceful at night… It kind of reminds me of Tokyo and Orange County… The two places I’ve been to so far where I feel at ease walking around at night…

Silicon Valley?

Not so much…

I’m not really sure why that is… Just a feeling you get, I guess… And it’s going to be different for everyone… This is just my own take on things…

 

So there you go… A random Monday and what a “typical” day exploring in HK looks like for me…

 

What will tomorrow bring? Why knows? But I’m very eager to find out!

 

Fight On!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Chen December 1, 2016 at 8:49 am

Check out the shrimp wonton noodle shop across from Mak’s noodles, portions are much bigger.

Check out https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g294217-d583584-Reviews-Red_Bar-Hong_Kong.html
It’s a free outdoor space in central

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