Hong Kong: Day 5
We were up bright and early to go to the International Commerce Centre. Well, actually we got up around 8am and left about 9am, but that’s pretty dammed early for me nowadays. We walked down the street towards the tower, it was already in the mid 20s even at this time of morning but the humidity wasn’t too bad. And it was much clearer than the day before! We arrived at the tower at 9:30am expecting huge crowds. Instead it was deserted. We found out why at the ticket desk, the tower doesn’t open until 10am. Argh!
At 10am we bought the tickets and jumped in the lift to the 100th floor, 385m up! It took 1 minute to reach the 100th floor, almost two floors per second, which is bloody fast. No wonder our ears popped quite a few times on the way up. The observation floor was empty and very quiet, a real positive. We spent a long time walking around the whole floor looking down on Hong Kong. The views are amazing from this height!
After we’d taken the photos and enjoyed the view we sat down for a coffee. It was a bit pricey and not great coffee, but to sit and relax and look out over Hong Kong and enjoy the view made it worth it.
Next on the agenda was to buy lunch and take it to the top of Victoria Peak. We bought sandwiches and yogurt and made our way to the Peak Tram station at the bottom of the hill. There wasn’t much of a queue and it wasn’t long before we were on our way up. The tram isn’t very comfortable, the seats are hard wooden benches and when the tram hits its maximum gradient of about 45% our backs were quite painfully pushed hard into the seat.
At the top is a large shopping complex filled with cafes, restaurants, shops, etc. It had a McDonald’s, Burger King, Häagen-Dazs cafe. The usual assortment of brands. We sat outside and ate our sandwiches…
Then we went for a walk around the peak. The actual peak is closed to the public because it’s filled with radio antennae. Surrounding the peak are very expensive and exclusive apartments all ringed with high gates, CCTV cameras and security guards. As we walked up the road it was surreal; the apartments looked old and shabby and dirty but the garages contained Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Porsches, etc. We followed the road round till we reached Victoria Gardens, which was totally accidental as the humidity was crazy again and we were soaking with sweat. We stumbled upon the gardens just as we were debating turning around. The gardens were almost deserted, very peaceful and quiet and had an OK view down to the other side of the island.
We went back down to the top of the tram line and took a few photos looking over Hong Kong then caught the tram back down.
We had our passports with us so the pesky Chinese would now allow us in their building. The Bank of China Tower is a 2 minute walk from the tram station and it wasn’t long before we were in the small observation area on the 43rd floor. The view was OK but this was more for the experience of going into skyscrapers. We could see St. Johns Cathedral and the Old Supreme Court Building. Here we were located at the centre of the Powers of Hong Kong and from surrounded by the HSBC Building (economic), Legislative Council Building (legislative), Central Government Offices (executive) and the Court of Final Appeal (judicial).
Just around the corner is the HSBC Headquarters building. It looks interesting and is said to have very good Feng Shui. We took the escalator up to the atrium on the third floor. Amazingly this is an actual bank branch, with ATMs and cashiers on one side and bank managers sitting with customers on the other. For that reason photography is only allowed in the central atrium section.
Outside we looked at the HSBC Lions named Stephen and Stitt. These Hong Kong lions have had quite a life and seem to be held in very high regard.
We were a bit tired now and sweaty and sticky so we decided to go back to the apartment. By the time we reached our station at Yau Ma Tei it was 5pm. Annemarie had wanted to eat at a famous restaurant, known for Dim Sum. It has a Michelin Star and supposedly has very good and cheap food. We hopped back in the train for a couple of stops.
We’d read about long queues at the restaurant, but it was half empty when we arrived. We sat down and were given a sheet of paper to mark which dishes we wanted. We chose a reasonable selection of 5 different dishes and hoped we’d chosen something good. When the food started to arrive it looked good. And tasted even better! This was by far the best food we’d eaten in Hong Kong and probably the best food we’d eaten in China.
When we paid the bill the restaurant owner told us we were very close to the Hong Kong flower market and we should take a look. With nothing better to do we went to wander around it. It’s actually lots of shops and street sellers rather than a market, but there were hundreds of varieties of flowers and plants and they were very colourful.
We decided to walk back to the apartment down Nathan Road and see if we could buy a battery for Annemarie’s watch. The streets of Hong are filled with watch shops, Tissot, Rolex, Swatch, Cartier, etc. Not very practical for watch batteries. We had just about given up hope of a ‘normal’ watch shop when we saw a shopping centre which advertised a general watch shop. We went in and found two stores in the directory, one on the 8th floor and one on the 6th floor. This shopping centre was rather quirky in its design and we had to take a few escalators all the way up to the 9th then walk back down in a spiral past all the shops. On the 8th floor the girl said they didn’t do watch batteries, on the 8l6th floor they had no idea what we were on about! I asked where would they go if their watch stopped working and they just shrugged their shoulders in response. What the hell? Does everyone just buy a new watch when the battery dies?
It took a while to get back to the ground floor of the shopping centre, but finally we reached street level. Just a bit further down the street we passed a very small store which sold DIY stuff such as hammers, screwdrivers, WD40, glue, etc. Maybe they also sell watch batteries. We asked and to our amazement they guy said yes! For $15, just over a quid we got the new battery. And on that happy note we went back to the apartment.