Staying on the move in Hong Kong

Tweed Daily News - - LIFE - JOHN NEWTON

IT’S a sim­ple ‘ding ding’ - but when there are more than 160 of them, it adds to the ca­coph­ony of noise along the tramways of Hong Kong Is­land.

Af­fec­tion­ately called ‘ding ding’ by lo­cals, mim­ick­ing the sound of a bell, the city’s 114-year-old trams shake, rat­tle and roll their way past some of the is­land’s sky­scraper land­marks.

But one old dou­ble-deck tram in par­tic­u­lar stands out from the rest. It’s the one that runs on the ‘Tramoramic’ tour be­tween Cause­way Bay and She­ung Wan’s West­ern Mar­ket – or vice versa.

As part of a three-pronged at­tack on com­plet­ing three value-for-money at­trac­tions in a day – morn­ing, af­ter­noon and evening - I jumped aboard the 1920s-style open top tram for an ear-pierc­ing slow jour­ney from the Cause­way Bay Ter­mi­nus to the West­ern Mar­ket Ter­mi­nus via a branch cir­cu­lat­ing Happy Val­ley race­course and through bustling streets filled with ul­tra-mod­ern cityscapes, as well as colour­ful his­tory and mod­ern cul­ture.

The one-hour tour, with free Wifi and recorded com­men­tary with au­then­tic tales of lo­cal life and tram his­tory in eight lan­guages, costs HKD $95 adults and HKD$65 chil­dren.

And to make it even more worth­while, you get a two-day ticket for un­lim­ited ac­cess on Hong Kong Tramways’ net­work.

It was time to move on to trans­port that runs faster (not by much in Hong Kong’s traf­fic jams), so I headed for the hop on/hop off Big Bus, which op­er­ates daily on three routes (red, blue and green). I opted for the green route from the Cen­tral Ferry Pier 7 – mainly be­cause the price in­cluded a trip on the 130-year-old iconic Peak Tram with­out hav­ing to queue. And the wait at times can be long. Very long.

Back down­town from the heady heights of the Peak, the Big Bus joins the heavy traf­fic to Ocean Park, then along a wind­ing coastal road to up­mar­ket Repulse Bay, where there are op­u­lent homes over­look­ing the sea – and even a Fer­rari deal­er­ship on the wa­ter­front.

Next stop is Stan­ley, where I hopped off to grab a bar­gain or two at the renowned mar­ket by the South China Sea.

Stan­ley has changed dra­mat­i­cally over the past decade with the mar­ket los­ing many of its bar­gain cloth­ing stalls and the place look­ing some­what tacky.

But the choice of al fresco din­ing op­tions along the main street on the prom­e­nade more than made up for the dis­ap­point­ing mar­ket.

Big Bus ticket costs range from HKD$480 for a one-day ticket that also in­cludes a trip on the Star Ferry. A two-day de-luxe ticket – cost­ing HKD650 – also in­cludes a one-hour tour on Vic­to­ria Har­bour and Kowloon nightlife tour.

No first-time visit to Hong Kong is com­plete with­out a sig­na­ture seafood feast at the gi­ant Jumbo King­dom float­ing restau­rant in Aberdeen, the last stop of the Big Bus green route.

Lo­cated at the Aberdeen Typhoon Shel­ter, there’s a free shut­tle ferry to Jumbo King­dom from Aberdeen Prom­e­nade Pier and Wong Chuk Hang Shum Wan Pier.

Now in its 42nd year, Jumbo King­dom is best known for its fresh seafood (cus­tomers can se­lect what they want from a huge fish tank), tra­di­tional Can­tonese cui­sine and dim sum. The restau­rant’s in­te­rior and ex­te­rior were built fol­low­ing the de­sign of the royal court of Ming Dy­nasty. It took four years to com­plete at a cost of HKD$30 mil­lion.

Over the years, Jumbo King­dom has been the film set for many movie block­busters.

*For more in­for­ma­tion on the three tours go to: www.hk­tramways.com/ www.big­bus­tours.com/en/hongkong/hong-kong-bus-tours/ www.jum­bok­ing­dom.com

*John and Pat were guests of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, Hong Kong Tramways, Big Bus Tours and Jumbo King­dom.

The his­toric doube decker trol­ley cars of Hong Kong are noisy but fun to ride.

The world fa­mous Jumbo King­dom seafoos restau­rant in Hong Kong.

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