Peak Experience ~ Hong Kong

First impressions count for so much.

Wide-angle Landscape: Midlevel High-rises from The Peak, Hong Kong

On a Clear Day, You Can See Forever… On a Normal Day at The Peak in Hong Kong, You Can See Midlevels… and Almost See Kowloon! 

My first flight into Hong Kong was a surreal sensory experience: I can still wrap myself in surround-sound memories of listening to Asian flutes in luxurious Cathay business-class comfort, fuelled by love and champagne, as the plane descends through the clouds, allowing the first sight of that beautiful harbour with its sparkling light, junk-sailed boats and triangular karst islands rising out of the mists.

That whole trip, ten years ago, was magical. I must have walked, cabbed, bused and ferried just about every inch of the city and its harbour. My (now) husband was living there at the time in a perfectly-situated high-rise in Midlevels, overlooking the city, where the sight of the mists rolling out and the city lights coming on through the picture windows stopped everything in its tracks.

So, smoggy, cold, windy, and damp… it doesn’t matter – Hong Kong can do no wrong!  That first impression entranced me, and I am forever in the city’s thrall.

Our most recent trip to Hong Kong, two weeks ago, was primarily about business and catching-up with old friends, but we did make a point of revisiting The Peak. We (wisely) elected to take The Peak Tram straight up, rather than walking the rather long and circuitous road as we had done when we were ten years younger.

Funicular Track, The Peak Tram, Hong Kong

The Track Divides Higher up, for the Double Reversible Funicular System

Detail: Cable Guide on the Funicular Track

Funicular Trams Operate as two Cars That are Permanently Attached to Each Other by a Cable

Red Funicular Tram Car, Hong Kong

Here Comes the Funicular Tram: A Smiling Operator and Potentially 120 Passengers

Gold Decal: The Peak Tram Company

120 Years and Proud: The Peak Tram Company

It is only an eight minute trip up to Victoria Peak from Central; considerably quicker than the walk from Midlevels! The incline ranges from 4 to 27 degrees, and the views over Hong Kong, if you are smart enough to get on the right side of the the carriage, must be amazing on a clear day.

Passengers On The Peak Tram, Hong Kong

Passengers On The Peak Tram

I’ve never been in Hong Kong on a clear day, so I take my photographic subjects where I can find them; inside the tram-car rather than outside it, if necessary!

Hong Kong is composed of hills which are made manageable by stairs and escalators. In that respect, The Peak Tower is a microcosm of the city. And, like downtown, the trip up or down the various levels of The Peak Tower is punctuated by food, entertainment and shopping…

View of the Escalators, The Peak Tower, Hong Kong

Like Hong Kong Itself: Bright Lights, Multi-Levels and Escalators: The Peak Tower, Hong Kong

Close-up: Female legs in Silver boots On a Escalator

Gray on Gray: On the Escalators, The Peak (太平山頂)

View of Hong Kong Through frosted, painted Glass, The Peak Tower

Hong Kong ~ Through the Glass ~ The Peak Tower

So, we dutifully ate (a lot!) and shopped (a little) before embarking on the 3.5 Peak Circle Walk.  I had no illusions about photographing views, as the the combination of overcast from the sea and smog from China showed no signs of lifting. But it is a pleasant circuit and (hopefully) helped to work off the super-sized strawberry shortcake I’d eaten with lunch.

View of The Peak Tower

凌霄閣 ~ The Peak Tower (Relaunched in 2006)~ as Seen From The Peak Circle Walk

View of Hong Kong high rises form the The Peak Circle Walk

A Break in the Natural Jungle Affords a Glimpse of the Concrete Jungle Below

Karst Islands in Hong Kong Harbour and South China Sea

I Love How the Building Contours Follow the Hong Kong Hills and the Karst Islands

Iron Banisters

The Curves of the Iron Banisters on Lugard Road ~ The Peak Circle Walk

Aerial Roots of a Ficus Elastica or India Rubber Tree

‘Old and Valuable Tree’ Says one Sign; ‘Ficus Elastica: India Rubber Tree’ Says Another, More Scientific but Less Poetic Sign

People actually live up here, although I think the prices are well outside ‘normal’ ranges.  Clearly some of the rambling properties have become too much to maintain and have been abandoned.

Terracotta Kmer Sculpture by the steps

Garden Gate on Harlech Rd

Close-up Rusty Gate

Rusty Gate Above an Abandoned Greenhouse

Bench on the Peak Circle Walk

Taking in the View?    Bench on the Peak Circle Walk

Misty View Over Aberdeen From The Peak

View Over Aberdeen From The Peak

After our perambulation, we returned to The Sky Terrace to see if the view had cleared enough to make it worth while waiting for the night lights to come on.

Two men looking over Hong Kongfrom the Sky Terrace

View from the Sky Terrace

Young People on the Sky Terrace Against a Smoggy Skyline

Young People on the Sky Terrace

It hadn’t, so I satisfied myself with some people-watching before we headed back down The Tram and walked over to The Escalators at Midlevels for drinks and dinner.

Male in a Ticket Booth, The Peak Tram, Hong Kong

Ticket Seller, The Peak Tram, Hong Kong

Text: Happy Travels

That’s the thing about Hong Kong: there is always a viable alternative.

And, good wine, good company and good food always makes a good impression!

Photos: 12March2011

  • Signe Westerberg - March 24, 2011 - 10:19 pm

    10 Years, really? what a perfect way to celebrate by returning. You didn’t mention the air, was it clear and fresh worthy of the deep deep breaths or simply the breath taking was in the views.
    one wonders when the city is so oft portrayed as covered in smog and mist. As always thanks for the share… happy days.

    much love SigneReplyCancel

  • Ursula - March 25, 2011 - 7:11 am

    Hi Signe,
    Time flies, doesn’t it. As for air quality – I live in Bangkok! Hong Kong smells clean. 😉ReplyCancel

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