Pinkles Visits Hong Kong
Pinkles, my cute little soft toy pig which I’ve had for a while, was lucky enough to travel with me on this trip to HK. As you can tell, sitting at the foot of the statue of Dr Sun Yat Sen (at the Sun Yat Sen Museum in Central, HK), she is small enough to fit into my handbag.
So in this post of HK, instead of my usual photos, I’ve included Pinkles in as many shots as possible. I hope you like her as much as I do.
The Hong Kong Tram
The slim looking double decker trams in HK are almost as cute as Pinkles. Rumbling along tram lines in the Northern side of HK, they have been around for over a hundred years! Known locally as “ding ding” trams, they are a reference to the bell which is used like a car horn (just like our trams in Melbourne). At one stage, the bells were to be replaced with beepers, as you do in this day and age when everything beeps. But following a public backlash at this sacrilege over their iconic trams, the bells were brought back and is still in use today.
It is a most convenient form of transport and for HK$2.30, you can ride it from one end to another. A great way to explore HK. It is very narrow though and at peak times, expect to be crammed like sardines into them as we were. You enter from the rear of the tram and exit at the front. The coin box is also at the front so you pay on exit (or you can use your Octopus card).
Here are some interesting facts about the HK tram:
- It is the the world’s largest double decker tram fleet
- There are 161 trams and 2 antique trams
- They carry on average 230,000 passengers a single day
- Conductors were phased out in 1982 (so bring exact change or your Octopus card)
- Tram body advertisements first appeared in 1930.
- Trams are numbered starting with 1 but due to omission or superstition – 44, 63, 71, 85, 134, 144 and 167 are missing.
After riding the trams in HK, we decided to ride HK’s most famous tram of all, the Peak Tram that takes us to the Peak which is another favourite attraction among visitors.
With a commencement date of 1888, the peak tram was working hard taking passengers up its steep 27 degree incline well before the HK tram even came into existence. Indeed, built to cater to residents of the Peak including the Peak Hotel which opened in 1873, it is the first cable furnicular in Asia. The ride up is pretty interesting towering over the skyscrapers of HK and the buildings appear to lean like an optical illusion. But once again, seats are limited and you may end up standing for the duration. Curiously, there does not seem to be any control over numbers or even a queue at the base to ensure everyone is seated. I guess this operates like a ‘public’ tram after all.
Getting off at the top, you end up at The Peak Tower which has become an architectural icon of HK. This famous wok shaped structure is instantly recognizable as it is on so many souvenir postcards all over HK. And if you did not have enough already of shopping malls, there is even one here not to mention a wide array of restaurants including Mak’s Noodles which we quite enjoyed.
Finally of course, everyone comes up here for its splendid views. The day though for us was overcast and gloomy. We had hoped the sun would show itself (even for a moment which I believe is not common this time of the year in HK). But it was not to be. We had to satisfy ourselves with a less than sunny view.
By the way, there is an option to purchase the Sky Pass with the tram ticket which gives you entry to the Sky Terrace viewing platform. I don’t know if its much better, but there are so many viewing spots around already that I don’t really think it is worth it. After sampling HK’s famous egg custard tarts, we were quite happy to make our way back down on the Peak Tram.
Be warned: The egg custard tarts has a very flaky puff pastry. It falls apart easily and therefore is served with a paper base. Don’t ask for a spoon though which one tourist did. All he got was strange looks!