Despite the 8 hour time difference we slept until our alarm went off at 7.00 a.m. We couldn’t see across the harbour from our window as it was so misty but were hopeful that it would soon clear. Breakfast followed in the hotel’s restaurant – a good selection of fruit, yoghurts, pastries and hot dishes to set us up for a few hours.
Despite the mist, we kept with our original plans taking the MTR to Admiralty and walking through the lovely Hong Kong Park on our way to the Peak Tram station. Queues for this historic 8 minute tram ride can become very long so it’s a good idea to arrive early to beat the crowds and save at least an hour standing in line. We only had to wait a few minutes, paying for our tickets using our Octopus Cards as this is both quicker and cheaper. As our turn arrived to board the tram we discovered we would have to stand and taking photos would be difficult so we held back a few minutes for the next tram where we were first to board and able to get the best seats at the front of the first carriage. Try and remember to sit on the right hand side when travelling up The Peak as from this side passengers can take in the dramatic views looking down.
The Peak was still shrouded in mist so we paused for coffees in the Peak Galleria before taking the Peak Trail around Victoria Peak. This is a delightful walk and is lovely and peaceful as most visitors just pause for photo opportunities near the Peak Tram station and don’t venture further. The trail starts on Lugard Road and is 2.4 km long providing spectacular views around the island on a clear day. Lugard Road is named after Sir Frederick Lugard, Governor between 1907-1912. Much of the walk is under dense tree cover with canopies of Indian Rubber trees and other sub tropical vegetation. Helpful information boards are provided at regular intervals explaining the local flora and fauna, the trail ending at Harlech Road but, of course can be traversed in either direction. It’s popular with locals either enjoying a morning jog, walking their dogs or practising Tai Chi in the small parks.
Near the upper tram station we took some photos at the Lion Lookout, there are excellent views from here but it tends to be crowded with tour groups. Instead of queuing for the Peak Tram, we took Bus No.15 down to Central which is almost as exciting as the tram itself especially if you sit on the upper deck and hold on tight as the bus twists and turns it’s way down the steep hillside.
Being a Sunday, Central is transformed from a district filled with city workers to one filled with Filipino and Indonesian maids making the most of their one day off. They meet up with their friends, filling every available space around. It’s like cardboard city as they set up camp for the day on opened cardboard boxes, some even building sides around their zones for extra privacy. It’s all good hearted though, one can observe the girls playing cards, enjoying picnics, sewing and giving each other foot and neck massages. It all happens around stores such as Cartier, Ralph Lauren etc. where certain roads are closed for the day and the girls enjoy line dancing and having fun.
A large organic food festival was taking place so we toured the stalls and were offered a variety of samples to try before stopping off at a branch of Café de Coral again for lunch, this time at Admiralty. After enjoying a sit down and something to eat we made our way to the Mid Levels Escalators – a 20 minute ride through SoHo. The escalators run downwards until 10.00 am and then reverse for the remainder of the day, being built to assist residents in the Mid Levels getting to and from work in Central. It’s fun to take these escalators and observe life below as you glide along and, of course, one can stop off anywhere on route and rejoin the escalators later.
Reaching the top we followed signs to the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens which has free admittance. The zoo is only tiny mainly consisting of a few monkeys and birds but the Botanical Gardens located across the street are very pleasant with attractive flowerbeds and fountains. Feeling tired from so much walking we headed downhill pausing to glance through the railings of the former Governor’s House on the way. Returning back to the hotel by MTR we rested our feet awhile before setting off out again.
Before dinner we looked in some of the stores around North Point and then had supper in a food court of one of the large malls. This proved to be a bad idea as the meal was below standard and the food lukewarm. Never mind, we won’t make that mistake again! Next, we boarded one of the narrow, old trams known affectionately as Ding Dings. Passengers board at the back and pay on alighting at the front by the driver’s cab. Trams have a flat rate fare of about 23p for any journey and sitting upstairs, either right at the back or front is a real treat, especially in the evenings when you can gaze down at all the bright lights and the constant hustle and bustle of life on Hong Kong island.
Our tram ride took us to Causeway Bay, an upmarket shopping district with a flagship branch of the department store SOGO. I love looking round this store so we started on the ground floor and managed to look around several floors before it closed for the night at 10.00 p.m. Returning back to our hotel by tram we just managed a cup of tea and a KitKat before falling asleep – my Fitbit didn’t really need to tell me that I’d walked over 30,000 steps today – my calf muscles and feet knew that already!