Standing on Hong Kong's Shoulders / by Tyler Wood

Hong Kong Skyline

The icon of Hong Kong sits just behind the mesmerizing cityscape that is the modern metropolis. When I was there the sky was not accommodating and was shedding it’s water weight. I was only there for a weekend, so I didn’t have time or patience for the clouds’ weight problem. As the day went on, walking around the raised walking paths from shopping center to shopping center, the sky began to finish it’s cleanse and go elsewhere to no doubt cry into a tub of ice-cream. This was my chance to see the view from Victoria Peak. 

It has been recommended many times that I take the peak tram up to the peak, so it seemed obvious that that was the mode of transportation I would be using. In fact, I didn’t even bother to look at alternatives up to the peak (are there alternatives?). I walked up the hill next to Hong Kong Park to find that the line for the tram was around the block. Was it always that busy or was it because everyone had been waiting for the clouds to stop their crying like I had? I’m not sure, but I had no choice, I had to go up this way, right? I got in line and waited with the other tourists for over an hour before getting to the ticket counter. 

“Do you want tickets to Madame Tussauds Wax Museum?”

“Do I look like a child? No, of course not.”

So after getting the tickets I moved into the herding area for the cattle mover. We all crammed into a space, no line, where we were pushing and shoving to keep from being passed, even though we weren’t actually going anywhere. 

“There’s a fence, where are you going?”

My Western elitism was soon to be humbled, however, when the horde scrambled onto the tram. I said, “why are they pushing, we will all get a seat,” like I knew what was what. Well, I was shoved out of the way a few times while I calmly chuckled at the fools. And then my smirk and I were left standing in the aisle holding the metal railings running along the ceiling. The floor was like waves in a wind storm and I was having trouble getting a comfortable footing. I was wondering why the floor seemed to be made out of a seismograph readout until we started the ascent. It was damn near straight up, I shit you not. It all made sense now and I was happy the floor was like that or I would have fallen down to the back of the tram, or at least two feet behind me where I would have run into the mass of people where I’m sure I would have heard the sound of a bowling ball hitting pins. 

The standing view of the climb

This tram was old and it was getting pulled up via a cable underneath us. It felt like an old carnival roller-coaster tick, tick, ticking up the hill. The view, for what I could see of it twisting my body while holding on for dear life, was breathtaking - or maybe it was because I was so contorted trying to hold the handle, lean down to see out of the windows made for people sitting, and turn so I could see it. Eventually, I made it to the top. At least I was able to get off first, sort of. A few people tried pushing me to get out first, but I had learned my lesson, sorry bitches this is China and I push back. 

I went straight into the Peak Tower and started my second ascent, this time via escalators, to the top. The tippy-top of the place was a large open deck overlooking the city from behind. It felt like I was on Hong Kong’s shoulders looking down at Victoria Harbour. An amazing view that can’t really be put into words accurately, just look at the photos and go there. I decided to get my moneys worth, so I was up there for some time and wanted to stay for sunset. I had two hours or so to wait, so after relaxing on the top deck I went down to get some food with a view at Bubba Gump’s traditional Chinese cuisine. Ok, not Chinese or traditional, but at least it was touristy!

After eating I went back outside along the railing to get a few shots, but the sunset wasn’t cooperating. I had a round-trip ticket for the tram and checked the line to go back down and it was about a 40 minute wait, so I decided to stay and watch the light-show from the Peak. I had seen pictures of lasers and lights filling the sky on the internet, so I was jazzed and ready. Too bad I didn’t have any ‘medicine’ for the experience like the laser Pink Floyd shows at the Seattle Center, but I was willing to deal. 

More and more people were showing up, so it made my decision seem like a good one. I muscled my way into a front row spot where I could set my camera down on a railing (no tripod) and get long-exposure shots. Although standing in a spot doesn’t seem to guarantee that you will be able to stay in that spot because people keep trying to slowly push you out of the way like slow-motion wrestling.

Across the harbor there was a building, the International Commerce Centre, which was covered with animated lights. It was the star of the pre-show and eventually had the countdown on it as well - the very anticlimactic countdown, as it turned out. It counted down to the light show set to music only to be quiet from the peak with no lights to be seen. We were wondering if we just couldn’t see it from this angle or it hadn’t started yet. It turns out, it was a very lame spot to watch the show. The ICC building was the best part, and that was happening before and after the show. I stayed there longer than I should have because I was too worried I would walk away and then hear a bunch of “oohs” and “ahhs” and not be able to regain my wonderful, photographic spot.

What the light show felt like

After a few of the buildings turned on and off their lights for the finale, I got in line for the tram to go back down. The entire population joined me, as it turned out. As I was waiting in line a kept hearing people say they were going to catch a taxi, and they walked right over and hopping in a taxi - sonofabitch! An hour and a half later, I fought my way into a seat for the return trip, which was backwards, down the steep hill. 

After that experience, it was time to find something I had been searching for for a long time. Something elusive and rare in Korea, almost to the point of not existing. And when you do find it, it isn’t even that great. But here in China, here in Hong Kong, was the good stuff. Of course I’m talking about BBQ pork buns! We walked over to the infamous Lan Kwai Fong area, assuming there would be excellent food. There was, but it was all non-Chinese food. It was very trendy and I was underdressed and had a camera (damn tourists!). I asked a security guard where to get some good pork buns and he told me where. I found Loyal Dining open late and offering the beautiful treats. They were a lovely sight because I hadn’t tasted one of my favorites foods on planet Earth in so long, but in reality they were only alright compared to other pork buns I have had. After that, taxi back to Kowloon and the 79th floor of L’Hotel Nina Et Convention Centre and the wonderful view of the water and the city lights to fall asleep to. I needed my rest because I had a day full of giant talking animals and castles ahead of me.