Day 2 (afternoon) in Hong Kong: Wan Chai

We didn’t have to wait very long for a tram to arrive. Sometimes, they even arrived together. Boarding was at the back, and we only tapped our Octopus cards when we exited from the front. We climbed up to the upper deck, where the views were generally nicer!

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The tram itself was quite a bit narrower than the typical bus. If there were passengers standing along the aisle, one literally has to squeeze their way past (which was what we did). It was open-air, decently fast and quite an experience! Watching iconic landmarks go past, like the HSBC headquarters, Bank of China tower and Former Legislative Council Building, we hopped off at Wan Chai. I would definitely recommend taking the tram longer if time permits – it was just such a peaceful thing to do.

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When we got off, we found the view in front of us so intriguing that we stood there for ten minutes trying to get the perfect shot of a tram traversing along the road. Across that road, there was a colonial-looking building directly beside a modern, tall tower. Clara’s mom remarked that it was a fusion of the old and the new. I noticed a sign reading ‘Bo Innovation’, a restaurant I came across somewhere before. A later check confirmed that it was one of few restaurants awarded three Michelin stars in Hong Kong.

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Our had our lunch, though, at Kam Fung Restaurant, a cha chaan teng known for their pineapple buns. There was no queue when we finally reached (we took a wrong turn and ended up walking in a circle).

This was one of the more lacklustre meals we had during our time in Hong Kong. The pineapple buns had a crust that was too hard and the bread was too dry. The chicken pie rated highly by a travel blog was too small and honestly, just could not pass off as a proper meal. The luncheon meat sandwich was average and we have seen better renditions elsewhere. It really wasn’t a good meal, and the service was down in the gutters. We were shoved to a table where other customers were obstructing and did not feel welcome at all. Then again, they seemed to be really busy so I could understand to an extent.

With lunch settled, Clara’s mom went to get insoles from Mannings, the Hong Kong version of Guardian which was essentially the same. We then walked over to the Blue House, a Grade I building for preservation, which meant it would be preserved at all costs. So it boggled me when we did not see a single blue house in sight! Instead, there was a building covered with bamboo and blue tarpaulin; confirmation with locals told us that that building was the Blue House, but even they could not tell us why it was in that sorry state. My only deduction was that it was down for renovation. Well, another reason to be back next time!

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The other buildings surrounding the Blue House were painted in an array of colours too, which made the whole stretch look pleasant and bright! We took some pictures from across the road while waiting for the bus that would take us up to the Peak!

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There was a market just behind the bus stop, and it looked like an indoor wet market, with a lingering tell-tale fishy smell. There were a number of maids waiting for their buses at the bus stop, and judging from the plastic bags they were carrying, and the destination of those buses, we knew they must have been employed by rich people living either in Stanley or on the Peak.

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The ride up the mountain was covered with trees, but the bus would sometimes break through tree cover and we would have an indication of how high up we were. With every view, we went higher and higher, until we were above the buildings themselves. After a long and winding journey, the bus deposited us at the bus terminal on the Peak (and we needed to go to the toilet).

We went up to the free observatory at the Peak Galleria (which was only a few metres shorter than the pay-to-enter Sky Terrace, by the way) and checked out the two views. The first was southwards, towards POKfulam reservoir and beyond. Apparently, on a clear day, Lantau island could be seen, but we were unlucky to have had hazy skies that day. We then crossed over to the harbour view, and found ourselves looking at the view of skyscrapers always shown in the guidebooks – ever so iconic.

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Boo will be the tour guide in charge of the Peak! He says, ‘peak-a-boo’!

We read about a not-so-well-known vantage point to view the skyscrapers, and so we darted onto Lugard Road, a narrow pedestrians-only path just behind the Sky Terrace building. It was quite a walk before we reached the ideal spot, but we walked slowly and basked in the coolness in the air. Singaporeans don’t get this kind of weather, so we made the most of it!

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In theory, the view would have been breathtaking, and one could effortlessly see out across the harbour to the far reaches of Kowloon, but even the harbour here was difficult to make out. The haze obstructed visibility and there was nothing we could do about it. We tried to make the experience better by taking a few Boomerangs!

We didn’t note the time, and before long it was minutes to sunset, so we jogged back, at a slightly speedier pace, to the Peak Galleria to catch the sun dip below the horizon at the POKfulam reservoir. Public enemy number one (haze) was at it again, completely blocking the sun from our view, so the sky just turned pink and then midnight blue. I had never seen a more anti-climatic sunset, so that was an achievement in itself I guess.

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