When researching what there is to see in Hong Kong, I hadn’t come across many major tourist attractions or things that you just can’t leave HK without doing. There was the Big Buddha and a few temples, but the only thing we actually ended up doing was Victoria Peak. Why, you ask? Well, this was the best view out our hotel window that we had the whole time we were there.
Granted, this doesn’t look so bad now (maybe I edited that a little too much). At the time, we were joyously celebrating because it seemed like an indication that the sun just might poke through the clouds, just a teeny bit. Not so lucky. For four days.
When we go on vacation, it rains. We’ve just come to accept this sad fact. Right before we left, after seeing a forecast for 100% (literally) rain, I was scrambling to find some appropriate footwear. One thing that drives me crazy is soaking wet sneakers, but I needed something I could walk around in and also get soaking wet. These guys were for sale at home plus, and I decided I could handle being slightly Korean for a four day trip.
They weren’t soggy but they gave me some blisters, so all in all I’m not sure if I’m an expert in summer rain shoes just yet. However, my feet were ventilated quite well, which I appreciated since it was both warm and wet. Back to the real reason you’re reading this. (Sorry if you just provided way too much about my feet.) To get our fill of the city attractions without too much trouble, we wandered over to Hong Kong Island take the tram up to the top of Victoria Peak, which offers lovely views of the city.
I should pause here and mention that Hong Kong has several areas to eat, shop, and stay. We stayed on one side of the harbor in an area called Tsim Sha Tsui, whereas on the other side of Victoria Harbor sits Hong Kong Island, another major portion of the city of Hong Kong.
We stood in line to buy tickets for the tram, which is operated on a cable system in which the tram cars counter-balance one another. The tram opened in 1926, during British colonization and was originally steam-powered. Oh, did you know that Hong Kong is a former British colony? It was “handed over” to China in 1997. I’ll get to more on that later. Anyway, back in the day, the tram cars were divided into class based on military status. Now, any paying customer can ride it, and 4 million do each year.
The route is 0.87 miles long with an elevation change of 1,312 feet! If you can imagine, it was a pretty steep ride. Not only that, but once we arrived at the “top” terminal, we had to take a series of escalators through a mall of sorts – imagine that, in Hong Kong of all places 😉 – to get to the very top of the peak. There was ample opportunity for shopping, and they actually set up the escalators in a way that you had to walk around each floor to get to the next escalator in the series. I don’t think that was an accident. We spotted a shop for my mom along the way and stopped for a cheesy photo op. Sorry, they didn’t actually have anything flamingo-y for sale!
So, we take this series of escalators, really having no idea if the weather was holding out. We reach the top and… TA DA!
Do you see it? There’s the Hong Kong skyline! Isn’t it fabulously beautiful?
We really enjoyed looking through the binoculars to get a better view… I just couldn’t handle all of the breathtaking glory my eyes were witnessing. It was jus– ok, it was just really freakin’ cloudy. In fact, better put, we were INSIDE a cloud. We just laughed the entire time at the top, wondering if it was worth the $5 tram ticket. Plus, we paid the extra $5 for the cool viewing area. Check off the bucket list, though right? Tell me this counts!
Luckily, we were able to catch some of the skyline during another adventure, so it wasn’t a total loss. My humidified hair was ready to head back down, so we settled on some dim sum for an early dinner, but first, J-Mar had to stop for a gelato cone while we enjoyed a view of the peak “mall”. They even had a Starbucks at the peak! They think of everything here, seriously.
Both our guide book and a couple of good friends had recommended a dim sum place in Kowloon called Din Tai Fung, also located in, yes, a mall. (There are hundreds of them in Hong Kong.) Dim sum, if any of you wondered, is the Cantonese version of Spanish tapas, or small plates to share. Typically this consists of dumplings and varieties of noodles accompanied by other side dishes of your choosing. I was really excited to get some good pork dumplings, and I’ve got to say, the fried ones were my favorite.
They gave us a cute little laminated instruction sheet that had both English and Korean translations on it, describing the proper way not to burn your mouth/enjoy your dim sum. For the steamed dumplings, it’s actually best to poke a hole in it to let some of the heat out. Simple, but extremely effective and definitely a necessary instruction for someone like me. Dipped in a little bit of soy sauce, this stuff is heaven. The beef noodles we tried were pretty good, although the meat was a little more fatty than what we prefer. We’ve noticed this is a trend in Asia so far.
I was happy to discover that Din Tai Fung has locations in many countries, including the US! So, we’ll be seeking this out on our next trip to a major Asian city. Yum!