According to most people that have visited Hong Kong, a visit to The Peak is a must, even if you have only have a few hours in town. Especially on a fine day, the spectacular views from the top, are among the finest in the world. However, the main attraction for us was the possibility to ride the Peak Tram to the Peak tower. Jerome as something of a transport addict had been very keen on the ride when I had shown him photos of the funicular car on one of the websites. Unfortunately we were not the only people with that thought in mind and had to join a long queue for the tram on the sunny afternoon. The time seemed to pass rather slowly, we could see a lot of the children, especially the younger ones getting fed up with the wait, so be warned.
Obviously all was forgotten once we finally reached the queue and were allowed to board the tram car. We were perched into the carriage and luckily got a space next to the windows, albeit to the wrong side (try to get a spot on the right for the best views), without any chance of good views going up the hill. The tram slowly ascended to the top and despite the crush everybody seemed excited when we exited at the other end.
The tram conveniently dropped its passengers into the heart of an anvil shaped tower, where most visitors dispersed into the shops and restaurants, or some headed straight for the next queue for the viewing platform on level 5. Some families went to visit the small outpost of Madame Tussauds on level P1. We ignored either of these tourist sites and walked outside into the much cooler air of the plateau. In fact many people come here in the summer to escape the heat and humidity of Hong Kong’s streets.
Outside the Peak Tower we walked the short distance to the Lion’s Pavillion to take in the view of the skyline. The view has quite an impact with the sea of concrete sky scarpers below, built so closely together that they all seem to merge into one. The water of the bay dazzled in the afternoon sun and we could just about make out the mountains behind Kowloon.
The crowds of people started to annoy us and we walked past the shopping centre and the Peak Tower towards Victoria Peak. As soon as we had left the tourist crowded area we found ourselves on Mount Austin Road. We saw some children on a playground, guarded by their nannies and lazily strolled up the steep hill. There were surprisingly many apartment building and residential houses along the ridge. When I read up on it, the Peak had been a popular place to live, ever since the Brits arrived. Those who could and still are, able to afford to live here, come to escape the heat and humidity – all at a price of course, the prices here are among the most expensive of all Hong Kong. While I was curious to look at the houses and architecture of these luxury condos, the boys walked ahead. Eventually I caught up and we arrived at the Victoria Peak Garden.
The focus point of the garden was a modern, Chinese style pavilion. At the far side of the pavilion, we were blown away by the sight of the bright rays of the setting evening sun on the sea below. The Chinese sea was glowing like molten lava, with the outlying islands sticking out like random rocks. The three towers of Lamma Island were very distinctive and Jerome immediately recognised them from having walked across the island a few days before. There were loads of ships and ferries going back and forth between the islands and the continent. Originally we had intended to walk the last few meters up to the top of Victoria Peak but the road was closed off and there did not appear to be another way of getting through. Instead we walked back down the way we had come from, we could have also taken the Harlech Fitness Trail back to the Peak station but were worried it might get too dark and we might get lost somewhere on the way down.
The way down was completed much quicker of course than the ascent, Jerome running down the slope, fast. We just got back to the viewpoint to devour the lights coming on in the thousands of windows of Hong Kong and Kowloon. We could see the adverts shine from the ICC tower and some of the other high-rise buildings. We all agreed that the view by night was even more impressive than during the day which meant it had proven right to come in the afternoon rather the morning, even if that meant queuing for longer at the Peak Tram. The same applied for the return journey, as the sun had set and the lights gone on, everybody seemed keen to get out of the cool air and into the tram to make their way back into Central for dinner. Others went into the Peak Galleria for some retail occupation or dinner at one of the many restaurants.
We could not be bothered to queue again for an hour and strolled the Old Peak Road back down into town, we probably took less time than the queue! The first part was a quiet, peaceful stroll, the street winding down the hill, under the canopy of thick, mature trees. No one else was around until we reached Tregunter Path, where we were back in the valley of sky scarpers again. A hearty and warming soup at Tsim Chai Kee on Wellington Street was just what we needed for dinner, before taking the double decker tram back to the hotel.