Slanty trams, brews askew and gettin' arty
03.02.2015 - 03.02.2015 20 °C
A big day today! But first: last night's shabu shabu was wonderful, tissue paper thin meat wafers wafted through boiling flavoured broth with all the vegetables and noodles you care to chuck in. Go chiso sama desu-ta ?
Same place for breakfast this morning, for another "pineapple" bun with doorstop of butter, toast with peanut sauce (paste) and egg & sausage between us. Mid-morning we caught the hotel's free shuttle bus into Tsim Sha Tsui; we thought it was going to take us past several markets but they must have been on a different schedule today as they dropped us outside a hotel instead. No worries! We wandered down to the waterfront at the southern tip of Kowloon and spent the rest of the morning in the HK Museum of Art, gazing in wonder at the amazing timber sculptures by artist Tong King-sum and the delicate painted paper scrolls of various Chinese artists. Even self-avowed Philistine Plane Boy was impressed.
After wandering along the Avenue of Stars (a local version of Hollywood's Walk of Fame, with sidewalk stars and handprints of Chinese movie celebs) we circled back to the pier and took a Star ferry over to Hong Kong Island. One brief, fast and eye-opening taxi ride later we were at the Peak Tram stop, ready to brave the crowds and take the funicular railcar up to the Peak. A bit of a wait but well worth it (especially in the nice weather) for the steep ride and spectacular view - being the last two on board we had to stand up but that made it even better. Clear skies and only slightly hazy today so we could see the entire harbour below. Spent some time by the window of a hilltop cafe watching five black kites wheeling around the peak and the high rises below - such enormous birds!
The ride back down was even more fun: standing up, facing downhill and holding on tight, it was like a slow-motion roller coaster. The second taxi ride was more like a full speed roller coaster - perhaps he was late for a bank robbery? - and dropped us vaugely near our next destination: the Central - Mid Levels Escalator. This is a marvellous series of canopied outdoor escalators with accompanying staircases and covered walkways, winding their way up the terrifically steep streets west of the Peak railway. Crammed full of tiny shops wedged between narrow alleyways and boutique bars underneath towers of apartments, this was the Hong Kong Nerdia had hoped to see and we eagerly rode at least a dozen escalators up to the very top at Conduit Road (they run downward each morning for commuters then switch to uphill for the rest of the day). Coming down was more thirsty work and we stopped for drinkies at a tiny British pub we'd spotted on the way up, Bar Phoenix. Just as happy hour started (what a coincidence) so two-for-one beers and discounted cocktails made for a merry pair who found the rest of the trip down highly amusing and very slanty.
Full praise to the Hong Kong MTR train system: two tipsy Aussies can successfully navigate their way through peak hour crowds along three different lines with no problems. Time for dinner at the busy restaurant right next to our breakfast place. English menus were swiftly provided but no other English or Westerners to be seen. Yummy, healthy soups were the go: squeaky Yunnan noodles with meaty mushrooms and paper-thin tofu for Nerdia, blisteringly spicy with various pork bits and molten cheese balls for Plane Boy. Back to hotel to recuperate ready for the morrow!