Day 3 – Hong Kong Island

I think we saw as much as we physically could in a single day. My Fitbit recorded over 12 miles of walking around Hong Kong Island and Tsim Tsa Tsui. One thing I’ve yet to mention is the wonderful Octopus card, which can be used for every bus, train, tram, ferry, and even at shops such as 7-11 or Starbucks. You may purchase an Octopus card for about $50 HKD (or about $6 USD), then load it with any of cash. Grace said that she has hers linked to bank card so that she doesn’t have to refill hers.

We started our day by waking up to ride the bus that Grace takes to work with her, which dropped us in Central Station on Hong Kong Island. From Central Station, we walked up to the Tram for Victoria Peak. Arriving around 8:30 am, there was only a few people in line. The tram is a very steep ride up the peak. Jess and I tracked the angle on the way back down using her iPhone, the steepest being around 26 degrees.

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Inside the Peak Tram

When we arrived at the Peak Tower, most of the shops were still closed, many didn’t open until 10:00 am, some not until 11:00 am. We stopped at the observation deck, then walked around the Peak Trail for about a mile out, then a mile back in. The trail was fairly easy, paved with minimal sloping. The view was phenomenal though. Sometimes the trail was hidden in a tunnel of trees, but sometimes we were rewarded with expansive views of the city and the harbor. The trail also had markers and signs at various points, all in English, describing the history, or information about plants, wildlife, or geology.

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Part of the Peak Trail

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Finished with the trail, we wandered through some of the shops in the Peak Tower, and treated ourselves to a rainbow cheese toast (aka grilled cheese). The colors on the sign caught our attention, Jess and I looked at each other and I asked, “…do you want to split one with me?” The sandwich had four different, brightly colored cheeses: tomato cheese, lavender cheese, basil cheese, and pineapple. The sandwich tasted as good as it looked.

The Hong Kong stamp machines are also very user friendly. Almost like a vending machine, a sign explained how much postage you would need to mail a letter to different countries or continents. Down side is that it gave me 10 cents in change, which is almost impossible to use again. I guess I’ll have a souvenir.

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We rode the tram back down to the tram station, then walked down to the Star Ferry to pass back over to the mainland, where we met Grace’s boyfriend, Jack, for lunch. He brought us to a vegetarian restaurant, for which I unfortunately do not remember the name. He ordered for us, Jess and I being overwhelmed by the local menu. Some of the items he ordered included a pastry with fake goose and sauce filling, rice cakes, sweet and sour soup, a tofu soupy type thing, fried bean sprouts (which, despite my long-standing hate of vegetables, was my favorite), bean sprouts in a slightly spicy sauce, and what he called “white people food,” which was a spring roll.

One of my favorite things about restaurants in Hong Kong is the tea. So far at all our meals, we had been given two types of tea. Jack had explained the night before that in tradition, if you pour yourself tea, it is polite to serve everyone else around you as well. He joked that he waits until someone gets thirsty enough to pour of the table before he would do it himself. Jess kept our cups full through the meal, this time.

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The aftermath

After our lunch, we returned back to Hong Kong Island. We explored an interesting market (of sorts) called PMQ, which converted the old police station into shops for local craftsmen. The stores ranged from high end fashion, handmade jewelry, handmade bags, even coffee, tea, and sweets. Jess and I couldn’t resist a couple of purchases for family (not saying what, so the surprise isn’t ruined!).

After PMQ, we stopped by the Min Ho Temple. Even though the outside street was full of children shouting, cars rushing by, crosswalk warnings beeping, once inside the temple, the rest of the world faded away. The air was thick with smoke from incense and candles burning.

By that time, we needed to catch a train to meet Grace for dinner. We caught a train at Sheung Wan Station, to Causeway Bay station. From there, we went into yet another mall. While Grace attested that there were always malls everywhere, Jack was sure that the scale and price of the malls had increased dramatically recently, as wealthy Chinese will come into Hong Kong, where the is  no sales tax, to purchase luxury goods. Every mall was high end – similar to a newer, larger version South Coast Plaza in Orange County, California. Some of the malls were eight to ten stories tall, with expansive atria.

In this mall, Yoho I think it was called, we went to a Shabu Shabu. This place offered all-you-could-drink beer for 18 USD, or about $2.50 USD. Unfortunately, due to the long and exhausting day, I had one beer with dinner before becoming very sleepy. After dinner, we started the long bus ride back to Grace’s in Yuen Long.

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