There was a bit of a shaky start this morning because the original plan had been to take the Peak tram to Victoria peak and walk round the circuit to see the view but when we got there the tram was closed for the day. We were offered a bus but chose not to go up. Hopefully we can do the tram on the 3rd. We stopped for coffee to look through the guide book and decided to take a tram out to the Sheung Wan area to do a walking tour.
The Hong trams have been in operation since 1904 and represent the only all double decker wooden sided tram fleet in the world. They operate on routes running east – west along the northern side of Hong Kong island. They cost HK$2.40 about 20p a journey and are very popular.
It looks very strange to see these lovely old trams running in between the glass fronted buildings and alongside the modern buses. As they have their on tracks often they are moving faster than the modern buses although they still have to wait for traffic lights. We sat on the top deck and enjoyed our ride. My Dad would have loved it. I found it difficult not to imagine Dad and his friend Jimmy sitting in front of us.
Our walking tour led us through a journey into Hong Kong’s past as we passed dried seafood shops and herbal medicine wholesalers. They had some fairly dodgy looking things in their windows. Despite what these look like we think these were dried sea cucumbers.
We visited several old temples but this is the Man Mo temple, it was the centre of civil life in the 19th century. It was built between 1847 and 1862 by Chinese merchants and dedicated to the gods of literature ‘man’ and of war ‘mo’. Back in the early colonial days the government only accepted oaths taken here rather than in a court of law. Smoke curls from giant spirals of incense hanging from the ceiling that contain paper offerings to the dead. The atmosphere was very thick with incense inside and we couldn’t stay in there long.
The walk took about an hour then we got back on the MTR (underground) and took the train to Wan Chai area and had lunch in an English pub called the Queen Victoria in the red light district although all the girlie bars were closed.. It seems like an odd choice but we both choose PORK sausage with mash. We just don’t get pork sausages in Malaysia. It was delicious. After lunch we wandered around the street markets which was really interesting. These two men were playing some sort of board game which looks like a cross between chess and draughts. There was a lot of shouting involved.
The stalls were selling everything from plastic flowers to underwear. There were the usual tourist tat stalls but all very friendly. Bill looked up over the top of the stalls and spotted these guys erecting bamboo scaffolding. He counted about 20 floors up and we couldn’t tell if they had harnesses on or not. Even so it looked pretty risky.
We found an indoor market selling the most wonderful looking fruit and vegetables. I wanted to take some home! The stalls on the right had lots of tanks containing live fish. They looked fairly health but I felt a bit sorry for them lying there waiting to be killed. They were also selling meat in an open stall but it looked a bit more appetising than the Malaysian meat and wasn’t covered in flies. They had red lamps in the lights to make it look good.
Finally we walked passed this dear little building sitting between all the high rises and next door to a very modern post office but this was the original Wan Chai post office and one of Hong Kong’s oldest. It has now been preserved and isn’t in use any more.
Back to the MRT and onto Exchange square to catch the No6 bus out to the seaside town of Stanley. It was a great journey for just $8.40 each about 70p. Once we’d left the city the road weaved through much smaller towns with lovely views across Repulse bay. It was a double decker and we sat upstairs to get a good view. There were quite a few upmarket apartment blocks that would have had wonderful views across the bay. The journey took about an hour and was a good ride.
Stanley is reminiscent of an English seaside town complete with pier. We walked along the promenade to the market which had some lovely jewelery stalls but I managed to resist, I have so many already. There were a little group of local boats moored in the bay which we felt drawn to. Shame the sun wasn’t out but at least it wasn’t raining.
We stopped for some delicious waffles with ice cream before boarding the bus back to the city. I really didn’t expect to find such diversification in Hong Kong but it was interesting and we enjoyed our afternoon there.