Thursday, August 2, 2012

Up the Peak

Sorry for the delays, there have been pressing family matters to attend to.  This post is from July 31st.

Like I said before, we would be going up to the Peak (山頂) eventually.  First, we would have to walk past some of the most famous landmarks in the city:
The Bank of China Tower, long a symbol of the city.
The headquarters of the Hong Kong Garrison of the People's Liberation Army (中國人民解放軍駐香港部隊).
But more on that in the politics post! 
2 IFC again.
In Statue Square (皇后像廣場) in Central, trilingual signs can be found all around:
Chinese, English, and Tagalog.  I think.  The hectic lifestyle of Hong Kong has caused many families with two working parents to hire domestic "helpers" from around Southeast Asia - especially the Philippines and Indonesia.  Each Sunday, on their traditional day off, they congregate in large numbers in public spaces, such as statue square, to chat and catch up with their friends.

Our first steps toward Victoria Peak are at this flight of stairs.
The Duddell Street (都爹利街) Steps and Gas Lamps are a relic of early colonial architecture in the city, built between 1875 and 1889.

We pass through the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens (香港動植物公園):

And find Old Peak Road.

In the old days, the wealthy [British] would be carried on sedan chairs by local coolies up to their expansive mansions on the Peak, which was originally reserved for non-Chinese residents.  Today, the Peak remains one of the most expensive places to live on Earth, with prices hovering around $70,000 ($9000 CAD) a square foot.

Old Peak Road becomes a footpath about a third of the way up the Peak:
and here, you can almost forget about the bustling city below you:
A rock dislodged in that typhoon a week ago.
until the inevitable public washroom turns up:
In the occasional clearings, the views are spectacular (if not for the intense haze that has hovered over the city for the past week):
And four hundred metres up from where we started, we reach this place:
The terminus of the famous Peak Tram, and one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, the complex at Victoria Gap (爐峰峽) attracts over seven million people each year (the entire population of the city) for its views over the largest skyline in the world.
My brother really wanted to try the wasabi McNugget dip, so we ended up going to the (overpriced) McDonald's:

On a good day, from the top of the Galleria, you can see Lamma Island (南丫島) in the distance, but today, only the town of Pok Fu Lam (薄扶林) on the southwestern coast of Hong Kong Island is visible.

The actual Peak is the mound on the right in this picture, the highest point on Hong Kong Island.

And the stereotypical view of Hong Kong below (with the stereotypical prerequisite that we did not pay for the observation deck in the Peak Tower):

We head over to the Tower and take the Peak Tram back down.
Completed in 1888, the Peak Tram is the quickest way up and down from Victoria Gap, with a maximum incline of 26 degrees above the horizontal.  The crowds at the terminus in Central are always huge, which is part of the reason why we decided to walk up.
Back in the city, we pass through Hong Kong Park (香港公園) nestled in the middle of the sea of skyscrapers:
And through Pacific Place (太古廣場), the Swire-owned upscale mall that lent its name to Pacific Mall in Markham.

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