The night view of the harbour made up for the hazy day. The lights were bright enough to shine through the particulate matter in the air, giving us some sort of consolation. A Thai tourist offered to help us take a photo – how nice of him! We returned the favour, of course!
We stood there, admiring the view while getting buffeted by bouts of wind. The view probably did not sum up Hong Kong in any way, but it was almost synonymous with it. To the right was the Bank of China tower with its controversial diagonal lines, to the left was a building that changed colours every few seconds. There was a shade of pinkish-purple that we really loved, and we sought to capture it at the fleeting moment it was bathed in that shade. The IFC on the island and the ICC over at Kowloon peninsula were really the only skyscrapers as tall as the Peak. In the foreground were high-rise residential buildings that for obvious reasons were not as glimmering. Having seen enough, we made our way down to the Peak Galleria and quickly browsed through its shops, including one displaying tram memorabilia, snapped a photo using the free service at the atrium, then headed down some more to the Peak tram terminus.
And then we saw the queue.
It was long and snaking and moving so slowly. We decided there and then to descend the Peak on the same bus service we took to ascend it. The queue for it, at the bus terminus, was long too, but the buses seemed to come more frequently. So, after about 20 minutes of waiting, we made it onto a bus, with a seat (woohoo)! The ride back down felt shorter than the ride up, and before long we alighted at the Landmark shopping mall.
We decided to go for dinner before checking out the Christmas decorations at Statue Square. So off we went, passing by the Mid-Levels Escalators again, walking alongside it at ground level, then taking a left turn onto Wellington Street. Tsim Chai Kee was right in front of us, its rival, Mak’s Noodles, directly opposite. There was no queue so we were ushered in immediately.
Tsim Chai Kee (which was featured in the Bib Gourmand of the Michelin guide) offered wanton noodles with three sides – meatballs, beef and wanton (duh). We ordered all three. There was a pricier option with all three sides given, but it was costlier. There was some advantage to be had in travelling as a group of three.
The noodles came literally seconds after we placed our order. It was as if they already had cooked them in anticipation of incoming orders (which probably was the case). Reception turned out to be mixed – Clara’s mom liked the noodles, Clara didn’t, I found them alright; we all agreed that the soup had a pungent aftertaste, and (surprise) preferred the one at Aberdeen Fishball Restaurant. I think, when it comes to Hong Kong’s noodles, the locals and us have widely-divergent preferences haha.
Before Statue Square, we stopped by Duddell Street to check out its gas lamps, which were still in use. Halfway up the steps was a bingsutt-styled Starbucks, but there was also a contrasting thoroughly modern section in another corner! We left without getting any coffee, but we guessed the staff would be used to tourists coming in without buying anything either.
Statue Square was an open area surrounded by the Norman Foster-designed HSBC Headquarters, the stoic Former Legislative Council Building and the Landmark, and overlooked the harbour. For Christmas, a towering Christmas tree similar in size to those along Orchard Road in Singapore was put up, along with several smaller-scale trees around it. There was a rendition of Santa’s log cabin and helpers roamed around to help take photographs. That was the time to use the tripod I was carrying around for the entire day. However, there were other tourists trying to get their own shots and they persistently hogged the place. Ultimately though, we managed to get the perfect photo – here it is!
It was already close to 10pm by then – we were out for close to 12 hours! We briskwalked through the Landmark to the Star Ferry pier and commuted back to Kowloon – this time at night! First, we got to look down on the skyscrapers from the mountains, and then we got to look up to them from the harbour! Both views were equally stunning, and belong with some of the best skylines in the world.
Just when we thought our long day was over, a man making a performance out of bubbles caught our eye. He tried desperately to get the mixture right, but the bubbles just kept popping. There were cute kids trying to run after the bubbles and pop them as well! We ended up staying until the end of his performance, when a Japanese businessman asked him to encase him in a giant bubble – which he did for a few seconds until that bubble popped as well, unfortunately!
By the time we reached Stanford Hillview Hotel, we were utterly exhausted. So much for a long day!