The reason I went to Hong Kong in January of 2002 was to attend the Hong Kong TOYS & GAMES FAIR and because I've designed some original dice games and I have new ideas for mah-jongg-related products.
But all that business stuff might just bore you, for all I know. Want to see the sights of Hong Kong? I know I hate to do the "all work and no play" thing when traveling to exotic places, myself.
I'd been to Hong Kong a couple of times before, eight years before. So I did a lot of sightseeing then. That camera wasn't digital, and it would be a lot of work to find those old pictures, scan them, and size them for putting on the Web. Besides, those are old history. My purpose here isn't to create "the definitive gallery of Hong Kong pictures," it's to tell you about this one particular adventure.
It's normal to have high hopes and expectations for sightseeing - to wish for blue skies and bright sunshine. To want to take postcard-quality pictures.
But one shouldn't let reality and the vagaries of weather spoil an adventure. Not every place can look like a postcard all the time. What you get on one day is what you get that day. When you return another day you may have an entirely different experience of it. As with any place.
One of my favorite things to do in Hong Kong when I was there before was to take the Peak Tram up to Victoria Peak at sundown, and watch the lights come on as the sky turns black. I had taken a series of wonderful photos on a previous adventure, and this time I had another chance (in between the other business I was in Hong Kong to do) to venture up there with my camera at the appropriate time of day.
There's a paved road/trail that goes around the peak, and spectacular views from various places along the way. The sky was overcast and the view across the harbour wasn't exactly crystal clear. But still pretty darned nice! (^_^)...
It was quite cool up there, and I decided I didn't need to stand around and wait for darkness to fall. But back at the tram station, it felt wrong to just head back down. I looked around for a place to eat. I explored the shopping mall across the street from the Peak Tower, where I found more viewing terraces.
In the photo above, you see the Peak Tower, viewed from the viewing terrace of the shopping mall. Just above the Madame Tussaud's sign is a viewing platform. The structure above that may contain a restaurant, but I didn't check that out. At the right of this same view (enclosed in glass and topped by strings of lights) is the CafEDeco where I eventually chose to have my meal.
The view down onto the viewing deck of the Peak Tower.
I got a window-side seat at the CafEDeco and ordered Indian food (and a Tsing Tao beer). Below is the view from my restaurant table. You can see candles reflected in the glass. Starting to get dark! My camera may have a time-exposure feature, but I didn't try to use it to get better night-time pix.
Remember what I said before, about how a traveler shouldn't be disappointed if the weather isn't postcard perfect all the time everywhere? That really hit home during the course of my dinner. In case anybody is wondering, the CafEDeco serves excellent food. Top-notch, I say!
After dinner, I went onto that viewing deck at the Peak Tower. Here's a view of the city lights without candle reflections.
Then I went back down the mountain and was heading to the subway (the MTR, they call it) when I ran across this sign proclaiming Hong Kong's joys.
This very attractive design is actually the Chinese writing for "Hong Kong," transformed into a clever dragon logo. Check it out, below. I'm showing "Hong Kong" in a couple of different font styles. See if you can recognize it, hidden in the dragon design. Very clever.
From that sign, I took the train to Kowloon to do a little shopping in the Temple Street Night Market. I didn't see any need to photograph that. Deal with it.
The second day was an expo day, but I got the chance for another adventure before the sun went down.
I took the Travelator up towards the Mid-Levels. It's a spectacular people-moving system that makes things easy for pedestrians. And I like being above things.
The travelator is a series of moving walkways that carries pedestrians up the mountainside. In the morning, the walkways move downslope, and sometime around noon or late morning they're reversed to carry pedestrians upslope. Either way, I'm a sloper from way back, so I get a special kick from the wonderfulness of this thing.
I'd been up the Travelator on my previous visits to Hong Kong. The reason I went up that way was to visit the antiques district. I had hopes of having a mah-jongg adventure up there, but things didn't work out that way. But what the hey, sightseeing is always good.
Above is the Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road. Note that the street to the right ends and turns into a stairway. Guess what it's called: Ladder Street. Hong Kong is a city built on a mountainside. It's much more hilly than San Francisco. Just behind me (out of view as we're facing Man Mo Temple and Ladder Street as above) is the "Cat Street Bazaar."
You see places named "Cat Street This" and "Cat Street That" every place you go in Hong Kong. Last time I went to the antiques district I thought the street I wanted was actually called "Cat Street." If I'd looked on a map to find the place, I'd have been out of luck. I got to the place by memory. And discovered that the street I wanted was actually Upper Lascar Row.
I never did find a real Cat Street. Unless that place to the right of the last jog at the left side of the map above really IS Cat Street.
Anyway, to get to Upper Lascar Row, my favorite route is this. (Right to left in the above map - sorry its detail is lost from the shrinkage.) Start from the elevated pedestrian walkway in Central (just southwest of the Star Ferry pier) and walk west until you get to the place where you turn left (here's where you enter the map above). I saw a sign there showing a pedestrian and a mountain in iconic format. There may also be signs saying "Central Market." Taking the elevated walkway, you pass through some buildings and over some streets. You should see the sights shown in the photos above. Get on the travelator and go up. Hopefully you get there after the hour at which the travelator's direction is reversed, so you don't have to do a lot of climbing. Get off at Hollywood Road and head west. When you see the Man Mo Temple at your left, turn right. When you see the Cat Street sign, turn left, and you're on Upper Lascar Row.
What I hoped to find there was a deck of Matiao cards. I didn't find any, so I just walked back. And of course took more pictures. (If these pictures are boring you, just scroll down to the bottom and shortcut on outta here.)
When I visited, it was the tail end of the Year of the Snake, with the Year of the Horse fast approaching. Perhaps these horses were put in the window in anticipation...?
Like I said, it's a hilly city. Being located on the side of a mountain will do that. I was glad to get back to the travelator, even though now I was actually using the stairs beside it. Here, check this out. I did a series of photos of some tall buildings. Start at the top, then look down to the street.
... and down at the street level.
Down in Central once more, I marveled at the never-ending bustle and growth of Hong Kong. I walked around the construction (using the elevated walkway in background left) and went down the stairs at the right to get to the subway station.
Something about subways made me take a couple pictures of that. Here's the eastbound train coming into the Central station.
And here's the train leaving the Wan Chain station. We got in the train on the left side, and exited the train on the right side, which is why you might be confused as to whether it's coming or going.
Hmm, I just remembered. I'd taken plenty of pictures of subways and trains in Tokyo last spring (to attend the Tokyo Game Show, click here to read about that) but never did put those up on the Web. Here are some from a later trip to Tokyo, and I have taken pictures of subways in Washington, D.C. and Montreal too.
Back in Wan Chai, it's a short walk back to my hotel.
And that was my second evening in Hong Kong.
My third and last day in Hong Kong, my business was all finished, so I went on a mah-jongg adventure.
Click here to see pictures I took during the "wild goose chase" - the little walk I took when I was looking for a mah-jongg shop!
You can click here to see a couple of pictures of the mah-jongg shop I finally found.
My Hong Kong trip was nearly at an end. I had seen a few sights, I'd done the business I'd come to do, and I'd even had a mah-jongg adventure. I still had some time to kill, and a British-style pub, "The Old China Hand," looked like a good place for a little time-killing.
The place has great beer, a bit of authentic British atmosphere, and a nice Internet computer you can use. I checked my bulletin boards and my email. Turned out that things hadn't gone to hell in a handbasket, a footbasket (nor even a navelbasket) while I'd been traveling. I responded to the key emails, and posted answers to the bulletin board questions. Now if only the cook would learn how to make a better chicken & mushroom pie, I could give Old China Hand an even bigger hand. The service is very good, I give it that!
On a search for a particular souvenir (a Hong Kong flag), I went over to Kowloon, where I figured to find one in one of the many tourist-oriented shops near the Star Ferry pier. I didn't find that flag there, but I decided to kill a little more time by taking a leisurely ferry ride back to the Hong Kong Island. To my delight, I found that the Star Ferry could take me straight to Wan Chai, right by the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre, where I could just walk to my hotel and get my bags and head on to the airport.
Click here to see the ferry ride. It's a little bit of sightseeing and a little bit of the story about the convention, so I gave it its own page.
I finally found that Hong Kong flag, at a little kiosk at the airport. So the trip hadn't been a waste after all. Just kidding. (^_~)
LATE-BREAKING NEWS! So much for MY crappy pictures. I just now finished writing this page, and in came an email from J.R. Fitch with some gorgeous pictures to share with you.
Beautiful pictures. He also has a picture in the ferry ride page.
I recommend Hong Kong as an excellent place to see. On this particular adventure I didn't hit very many sightseeing spots. I didn't go (as I had before) to Lamma Island to ejnoy the barbecue shrimp; I didn't get to the south side of Hong Kong Island with its beautiful beaches and marina, nor to the weird but colorful Tiger Balm Garden above Causeway Bay. I didn't go to Lantau Island to see the giant Buddha, I didn't get around much in Kowloon, didn't make it to the New Territories nor into Shenzhen. If you ever get time to spend in Hong Kong, you'll get to see all those things and more. Hong Kong gets a big "thumbs up" from me!
Enjoying this adventure in Hong Kong? Click below to see more about Tom's Excellent Hong Kong Adventure 2002.
THE HONG KONG TOYS & GAMES FAIR
Taking the ferry to the convention centre
Good sightseeing, even when all you're doing is looking for a mah-jongg shop!
TOM'S EXCELLENT HK MAH-JONGG ADVENTURE
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SLOPERAMA'S GAME DESIGN ZONE
SLOPERAMA'S MAH-JONGG ZONE
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