We woke up early on our first day in Hong Kong, and were greeted by a rainy day.
All we wanted to do was get the heck out of our hostel, but we needed some breakfast first. Most things weren’t open yet so we settled in for a quick bite at Starbucks (they’re everywhere here). And then snuck back to our hostel through the back alleys.
The one good thing about the Chungking Mansion is its proximity to the MTR stations. We grabbed our belongings and ran over to the Tsim Sha Tsui station, buying a one-way ticket to Sheung Wan.
After switching to our new hotel we set out to explore the city.
It was lightly misting outside but Hong Kong is filled with covered walkways and even escalators, which makes sense after you walk a few of their hills. We walked along Hollywood Road towards Central.
Eventually we discovered Mana! Fast Slow Food for lunch.
We got two flat bread wraps ($80 HKD each) and a large salad ($100). It’s a little steep for budget travel but we found these to be the average prices around the Sheung Wan/Central area. And we probably could have gone for just one wrap because the portions were so big.
After lunch we stopped at the Man Mo temple dedicated to the God of War and the God of Literature.
The ceiling inside is covered in coils of burning incense while visitors light their own on the candles burning below. Puffy clouds rise up all around and the bustling sound of cars passing outside fades away.
The temple is over 150 years old and nestled right in between the pastel skyscrapers.
We filed back out into the city and headed off again. We were pretty excited about the elevators we found on the way to lunch so we decided to hop back on them and see how far we could go.
The mid levels, as we learned they are called, is a long strip of stores and restaurants and a residential area lining the escalator as it climbs higher and higher up Hong Kong island. It offers some pretty great views.
The nice thing about Hong Kong is there are signs and maps everywhere. It’s a very friendly city for visitors, even if the streets get confusing and windy in parts.
We were deposited at the base of a little suburban street and followed the signs pointing left towards the zoo and the Peak tram. The tram was on our wish list so we decided it was as good of a time as ever to find it.
We wandered along winding streets and shortly found ourselves climbing down steep stairs and crossing high-up walkways across the busy roads.
We zig-zagged deeper into Central and found ourselves utterly confused. We stopped at a Starbucks for the second time in one day (it felt very touristy of us), but this time to get directions and rest our feet.
As it turned out the tram terminus was just around the corner down another one of the three diverging streets where we lost our way. We found the big sign and were delighted to see the surrounding area practically empty. Then we rounded the corner to find a long line queuing up for tickets. I had read to go early, around 7 am to beat the crowds. It is definitely the way to go.
The line didn’t take as long as we expected, but they would have been nice to skip. When we boarded the tram, it took off and led us up Victoria Peak at inclines that make the surrounding buildings look like they grow at impossible angles. We held on tight and our tram climbed up into the fog.
Everyone shuffled out at the top and into a shopping mall. We had to find our way out in order to get to the Peak Circle Walk. Unfortunately we didn’t have a view of the harbour below, but we were greeted by this eery one instead.
The Peak Circle Walk wraps around the top of Victoria Peak and typically offers the best view of the city below. For some reason the hazy sky didn’t deter these guys, the fog dwellers as we dubbed them. They all sat waiting on the path with their cameras poised and ready in case the fog lifted.
But despite the limited visibility, it’s still a great hike. If you head to the right while leaving the mall it is easy to find using the posted signs. If you take the path in the opposite direction, from the left, you follow the signs for the Morning Trail. As far as I could tell they either join or are the same thing. The whole circle took us about an hour or so.
When we looped back to the tram terminus, the lines to leave were even longer than the lines to come up. We were completely beat by the time we got back down so we took the MTR back to Sheung Wan from Admirality, grabbed a quick bowl of noodle soup and went to bed. Not bad for our first day, and a great recovery from our harrowing first night in the “mansion.”