June 1, 2009

Hong Kong - The Peak, Lantau Island, TST Promenade, Temple Street Market

Day Two of Our Hong Kong Trip

On Saturday, we ferried, we trammed, we cable carred, we hiked, and we partied like rock stars. Sort of. Well, it was a packed fun day!

The Peak

After a morning swim and quick breakfast, we kicked off our second day by taking the Star Ferry over to Central and then heading to the Peak Tram. The Peak Tram is a funnicular that zooms you up an insanely steep angled hill up to The Peak, a look-out area with hiking and walking paths that overlooks Victoria Bay. It was a sunny morning, and there were lots of people out walking dogs, running, and hiking around. The Peak also had some shops, including our (apparently) new favorite bookstore Dymocks, from which we again bought some English books for the kids (and some for us!).

We took a little hike out to the look-out point. It was had a relatively clear day, and the views from the top were pretty grand.

Wan Chai - Lunch and Markets

After bussing it down, we hit the neighborhood called Wan Chai for lunch. It was aninteresting neighborhood to walk around; much different from the glass-skyscrapered high-end-stores of Central. We saw this guy carving up various cuts of hanging meat, stopped to smell the (jasmine) flowers, and wandered through some back-alley street markets. We also window-shopped past some incredible wood-carved furniture stores.

Lunch was at Pizza Express, a recommended pizza joint that was super fresh and tasty. Either we haven't head real pizza in a very long time, or Pizza Express makes damned good pizza. Hard to say. But we all really enjoyed it. (We also gave Jacob and Lauren pizza for lunch in exchange for them being happy to accompany us for peking duck for dinner. Yeah, we know its not a democracy, but a little negotiation and give-and-take seems to keep things running more smoothly...)

Lantau Island - Ngong Ping 360 & Giant Buddha

After lunch we took the MTR (LOVE the MTR!) to Lantau Island, which is due west of the main Hong Kong island. Lantau is actually the biggest of the islands that make up Hong Kong land-wise, but is very sparsely populated due to the mountainous terrain. (Although we hear that there is a pretty big ex-pat community in Tung Chung, where we arrived).

From Tung Chung (fun to say, isn't it?), you can take the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car Ride, a twenty-five minute cable car over rugged mountains and the water out to the Giant Buddha, which is apparently the largest outdoor seated Buddha statue around.

The cable car ride was pretty amazing. But if we were without the kids, it would have been an even more amazing experience to hike it from Tung Chung. From the cable car, we could see the path below, through the mountains and forrests, past waterfalls. It looked like a terrific hike.

Between Nara and Kamakura, we have seen our share of big Buddha statues. This Buddha (built in 1993) certainly doesn't have the history of those others, but the surroundings of this particular place really made it special. You can see the Buddha from the cable car and from almost all points in the town below. You get to climb 200+ steps to get to it.

From the top, there are mountain views and vibrant (look how perky they are!) pine trees all around. And you can peak down at the Po Lin Monastery in the valley below. And to top it off, they had excellent and refreshing rainbow ice pops at the top. (It's really the little things, huh?)

Peking Duck Dinner and Light Show on the Promenade

That evening, after making it back to TST, we enjoyed a great Chinese dinner of whole Peking Duck (meat and fat separated, served with pancakes, sauce, and cucumbers and scallions), chinese vegetables, and out-of-this-world fried-rice at Peking Garden. The kids weren't so into the duck, so between the two of us, we had plenty!

After dinner, we skedaddled down to the Promenade to catch the Symphony of Lights and the night view of the skyline across Victoria Harbor. The Symphony of Lights is a nightly 8 PM choreographed light and laser show, set to music, involving the skyscrapers across the harbor. Completely cheesy, but totally fun to watch.

Afterward, we took a quick peak at Avenue of the Stars, mainly to find the Bruce Lee statue. Which we did. Bruce Lee. What a bad-ass.

Temple Street Night Market

Although it was already getting late, we wanted to see Temple Street Night Market, which we heard was the best of the night markets of Hong Kong. We explained to Jacob and Lauren that it was Saturday night -- party night for grown-ups and that they were going to get to stay up late.

As for the night market, it was a pretty standard chaotic Asian market, similar to ones we had seen in Thailand and Bali. We've come to the conclusion that these markets are pretty over-whelming, while at the same time being under-whelming. Fun in an overload the senses kind of way. Some interesting things. Lots of crap. Goes on forever. (But, truth be told, probably a lot more fun to do without half- and whole-sleeping children!)

Lauren ended up falling asleep on Mike, who carried her (dead-weight) on the way back down Nathan Road for as long as possible before we had to jump in a cab. (Taxis, incidentally, are super-cheap in HK; you can really get anywhere you want to go for $3-5. The buses are even cheaper, require exact change, and don't seem to care how much money you put in.).

Jacob, on the other hand, took the Saturday night party theme to heart. Even as we returned to our hotel at 10:30 PM, he kept saying "But, I want to party!" When we probed as to what this meant to him, Lauren awoke out of a dead-slumber to inform us "He means eat cake." Oh. Well that makes sense. Luckily, they both settled for watching the lobby piano-bar singer for a while and then heading up to the room, where Mike and Jacob stayed up late flipping between soccer and NBA basketball replays on TV.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

That was my favorite blog! I want to party!...but i don't like cake. Ask lauren how i should party. Jacob's backwards hat leaning picture reminds me of david's awkward phase. love you all!