I’ve been a big city girl all my life. So when the opportunity to spend a week in Hong Kong came by, I was slightly reluctant. I’d rather be somewhere less frenetic.
But I went. And I’m so glad I did. Nothing could prepare me for the paradox that is Hong Kong. Eye popping urbanization on one hand and yet (surprisingly), sprawling greenery on the other.
We arrived in Hong Kong late Sunday evening. The plan was to spend Monday getting familiar with the lay of the land. Armed with an Octopus card (my traveling companion for the week ahead), it was time to ride the ding ding!
Ding ding (as it is affectionately called by the locals after the sound of its bell) is the iconic HK tram. Over a century old, it is the most environmentally friendly way of getting around this metropolis.
Monday morning, I was at the Kennedy Town tram terminus, waiting for an eastbound tram to Shau Kei Wan located at the other end of the island. This 80-90 minute journey is a fantastic way to get an overview of Bruce Lee’s hometown. The colourful, double-decker tramcar arrived shortly. Luckily for me, there weren’t too many people getting on so I managed to get the front seat on the upper deck. As the tram rattled along slowly and (un)steadily, I was transported to an era long gone by. The experience – a novelty. The view – kaleidoscopic!
Commuter rush, neon signboards, towering buildings and a gazillion air conditioning units. So this is what life is like for regular Hong Kongers. The tram passed by the swanky Pacific Place, the historic Western market (the oldest surviving market building in HK), several commercial and residential neighborhoods. The intermittent drizzle and the cool breeze added to the multi-sensory experience.
I distinctly recall the Dried Seafood Street. It was heartbreaking to see store after store, selling dried shark fin at a time when the rest of the world is focussed on conserving shark species. After a slow 13km ride, the tram approached Shau Kei Wan terminus. I tapped my Octopus card on the reader to pay the fixed HK$2.30 fare and got off.
With this quick orientation of HK done, I was now ready to discover the Pearl of the Orient. Read more about Hong Kong in my post Asia’s Word City.