After breakfast we hopped on the MTR to Central so that we could take a ride on the Hong Kong Observation Wheel which stands 60 metres high and has 42 cabins. The wheel has been open less than two years so we hadn’t been on it before. Tickets cost HK$100 each and there was no queue so we were able to take a cabin to ourselves. It’s much smaller than either the London Eye or the Singapore Flyer but offers some stunning views across Victoria Harbour. The ride lasts 30 minutes with three complete revolutions and it was fun to sit back and relax taking in the stunning scenery, who doesn’t enjoy a ride on a Ferris wheel!
Leaving the Big Wheel, we walked across to Central Pier, jetty No. (5) for a ferry to one of Hong Kong’s outlying islands, Cheung Chau located 10 km to the south west. Ferries run every 30 minutes alternating between slow and fast (catamaran) services. As we arrived a slower ferry was due to depart so we stepped on board for the 55 minute journey, paying the fare using our Octopus cards. We decided to sit on the open, upper deck so that we could enjoy the view and take some photos.
Cheung Chau’s promenade is a riot of colour and bustling with activity. Small shops and cafes adorned with brightly coloured parasols line the seafront, cyclists try to weave their way through the crowds and in the harbour you will find dozens of small fishing boats and sampans. No cars are allowed on the narrow streets of the island but cute little electric vans and carts are used to move goods around.
We strolled along the length of the promenade and then visited the ornate Yuk Hui Temple slightly inland. Before exploring the other end of town, we stopped for refreshing glasses of iced tea then feeling ready to continue, glanced in the wet market and were tempted into buying 4 ‘Pasteis de Nata’ – Portuguese custard tarts from a bakery. These tarts are popular in Hong Kong as they are to be found in the neighbouring Portuguese island of Macau. We found an unoccupied bench on the pier, so sat there enjoying the delicious warm tarts feeling glad we had been greedy and bought two each!
We then felt ready to head back to Central and fortunately the next ferry to depart was one of the faster ones so we returned in 35 minutes. These catamarans are not suitable for taking photos as the spray hits the windows so it might be a good idea to travel one way on the slower (and cheaper) boat if you want to use your camera.
After a lunch break in the air conditioned IFC Mall we explored the Central district being especially interested to walk up Pottinger Street also known as ‘Stone Slab Street’. To locate it, start from the bottom of the steps on Queen’s Road, it’s adorned with red paper lanterns and small stalls selling almost everything spill out onto the steps.
Nearby, the Graham Street Market, one of Hong Kong’s oldest, is spread along Graham, Gage and Peel Streets and located between Queen’s and Hollywood Road. It’s a wet market, so called because they are hosed down every day. It was mid-afternoon and bustling with local people shopping. Here you can buy fresh produce, meat, flowers and stop to eat in one of the dai pai dong’s (traditional hawker food street cafes). It couldn’t be more different than just down the road where the likes of Louis Vuitton, Armani and other luxurious stores are to be found.
Continuing, we travelled up the ‘Mid Levels Escalators’ which link Central with the Western district. This series of escalators covering 800 metres transports an average 85,000 people daily. The journey takes around 20 minutes to reach the top but passengers can stop off anywhere along the way. The escalators were built to enable commuters to access Central more easily and operate downhill until 10.00 am each day before reversing to uphill travel. This afternoon we only travelled on them as far as Soho where we stopped off to explore this lively hipster neighbourhood. On our previous visit we had travelled the full length and visited the Botanical Gardens and the former Governor General’s residence both located near the summit.
Before returning to the hotel for a rest we spent an hour shopping on the King’s Road in North Point near our hotel, returning with some irresistible coconut buns to accompany our afternoon cup of tea.
For our evening excursion we headed back on the MTR to Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon and by leaving the station at the Peninsula Hotel exit it’s only a short walk across the road to the waterfront where there are breathtaking views of the twinkling lights of Victoria Harbour. Here you will find a raised viewing area with seating to soak up the atmosphere and views. Moving on, we crossed the harbour on the iconic Star Ferry, our boat being called ‘Twinkling Star’ then returned to North Point on an old wooden ‘ding ding’ tram for dinner and a good night’s rest.
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