With such a rush in my final two days the blog did not get updated. I wrote one whilst travelling on the last day and lost it somewhere in transit. So here I retrace my steps...
Monday 15th, grey day, much to explore...1st stop suit fitting and whilst waiting 1st beer of the day...Suit in cut fabric form, some white chalk later and I'm on the road....next stop International Commerce Centre and Ritz-Cartlon hotel.
On route I made a stop for a coffee and attempted to find a suit carrier for my trip home. Not successful.
I was told that the bar atop the Ritz-Carlton hotel was the highest in the world and housed within the 7th highest building in the world and is well worth a visit so i trundled off in search of this haven for alcohol consumption....Closed. Not open until 5:30, breakfast plans out the window. Instead I paid a small fee to go up to the viewing deck, on floor 100 (60 second elevator ride gets you there pretty quick) not quite the top but provided great views of the city.
After a quick look around, a drink and birthday phone call to mother. I descended and joined the MTR to get across to Hong Kong Island, my next destination was the Thean Hou Temple. Taking an energy sapping walk from Hong Kong Station up to the mid-levels built into the lower edges of the peak I followed narrow windy roads between street vendors selling eclectic selections of both wet and dry goods to locate the temple.
The temple was captured by the aroma surrounding it more than the visual aspects. Generally silent, the temple was a mix of bright colours and gold finished statues. The strong smell of incense burning everywhere with smoky trails emanating from the ends of the hanging incense windings. It was beautifully decorated and quite a contrast to every building elsewhere on the mid-levels. Various shrines within the walls of the temple clearly worshipped by locals for different purposes. Quite something to see. We have the technology to capture pictures, movies and along with that sounds, nut we have not yet captured scent, and as one of the most defining aspects of this temple, it is difficult to describe it without them.
Leaving the temple behind I walked across the mid-levels of Hong Kong in search of the peak tram terminus to elevate me to the summit of Victoria Peak of Hong Kong. Along the way discovering many of the anglicised bars and restaurants I was previously surprised not to have seen, here they were.
After a small queue, I was crammed onto the tram, all seating. I was about to see why as I looked ahead and could only really see what appeared to be a wall to climb. As we departed the station we were thrown back in our seats, akin to climbing the first climb on roller coaster, as the tram was tilted back to climb the mountain straight, and I mean straight, up the side. No curving, winding path like the alps. Point in the direction of the summit and proceed.
Quite a hair raising but equally thrilling ride later I arrived at the top. A little disappointed if I am honest to see the hugely commercialised tram terminus at the top that left behind the heydays of its founding, and that of the tram itself, sometime ago. A shopping complex and restaurants offering views over the city at different levels dropped onto the side of the mountain like something from that bond film with that Aussie Bond. You could book in at Bubba Gumps shrimp, Burger King or pay a small fee to get to the viewing deck atop this man made shopping complex at 430 odd meters above sea level. I understand this to be a Guinness world record for the highest shopping complex in the world. Anyways, I refused to pay or use the viewing deck, you don't scale a mountain to then scale a shopping centre in my eyes. Instead I opted for a humble trek along a small part of a 50km walking trail around the peak. From this trail, in between the foliage, I found some stunning views of Hong Kong and Kowloon as daylight turned to dusk and twilight to darkness. Tried to capture some of this on camera, but will never do it justice. Since then, from the pictures alone a certain Mr Honour can be quoted as saying 'I thought nothing would ever beat the New York skyline but that does' (or something similar). It really was incredible to look down so closely on building that are so close to you. This view alone is worth a trip to Hong Kong. Truly sensational. Here and there along the route, photographers are setup with their tripods capturing the scene, the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong just down there yet separated in elevation to the tranquillity and serenity of the mountain, looking down like standing over an ant colony. Feeling a world away, like it's a place you are so close to but will never make it to. This was a perfect way to spend the last night in Hong Kong.
Back at the tram terminus the queue was insane, went to grab a coffee and wait for it to die down. 40 mins later with no change in the queue I consulted the map and determined that descending on foot was definitely doable. Off I went.
For the next hour I wound around the old peak road down the mountain descending at something like 1 in 3 sometimes steeper. After about 40 mins of it my quads were starting to shake from constantly limiting my descent! The next 15 mins or so was actually a little uncomfortable. Time for me to get fit!! It was great walk though for walking among the woodland on the side of the mountain provided a great atmosphere and strange sense of descent to human level after my deity experiences at the peak.
A trip across the star ferry (descended the 400m from mountain top to sea level in an hour, quite surreal) and a stop at my favourite waterfront bar for a couple of beers on the way back to the hotel.