Having adventured in Kow Loon, Lantau and their environs, our escapades the last few days of our visit in Hong Kong finally took us to the Main Island. Compared to Kow Loon, adventuring on the main island is a whole different side of the story. Kow Loon is what I would imagine mainland China to resemble whilst the main island of Hong Kong has a vibe very much like the buzz of bustling New York City! We found there wasn’t very much to do on the Mainland (if you did then I’d love to hear from you on what I missed out) and now that this series is coming to a close, I am glad that we had chosen to stay in Kow Loon as it turned out to be the ideal place for a tourist. If I were fortunate enough to visit Hong Kong on business some day, then I would probably stay on the Main Island. Here then, dear Wanderlusters are my main island escapades!
Leaving from the terminal at Tsim Tsa Tsui, this is the most scenic (and affordable ) mode of transport from Kow Loon to the main island, at a mere HKD 2.50 per person! I would say that it is a great way to see both sides of Hong Kong – Kow Loon with its string of hotels lining the TST parade on one end, and the Main Island with its skyscrapers looming tall and all business like on the Main Island side being a perfect symphony of business and pleasure, both elements that Hong Kong is known for!
Man Mo Temple
Being cultural aficionados, M and I had read about this mystical temple and we were pretty keen to see it for ourselves. Research suggested that the temple’s ceilings are decked with coiled incense hanging from them, and these are lit and continue to burn slowly for months with their smoke wafting and swirling around the temple thus giving it a magical, almost other worldly feel. Indeed, I was glad to see that this was the case, and we happened to visit on a particularly busy day so it was nice to be milling amongst the humdrum of worshippers whilst ambling around the smoky interior whispering a few prayers of our own!
Of all the things that I read about to do in Hong Kong, riding the Peak Tram was something that was top of my WanderList and of course, was an adventure that I could not miss! Now, what I wish we had done was go to the website and purchased tickets in advance to avoid standing in the long queue that snaked its way down the road, but hindsight is always a great teacher.
After waiting for what seemed like hours (but in reality was a little over 45 minutes) we finally managed to buy round trip tickets at the Tram Lower Terminus and got into yet another line to board the little tram that would be chugging its way up to the peak. If I thought that my experience in India with queues was bad, then this was even worse. As soon as the tram opened its doors, any form of queue was quickly forgotten and people were literally pushing and shoving to get into the tiny tram. Now this kerfuffle turned what I had hoped to be a picture perfect ride up to the peak to a jostling mess and totally took away any iota of joy that I was feeling!
But, there were even more lessons at the top. Between waiting in line to get to the top and actually getting there, the weather had turned which meant that the skyline was foggy and so I didn’t even manage to get a decent picture! *insert sad emoticon here*. And then I found out that to get that “signature” skyline view, you have to go the Sky Terrace 428, and if you didn’t purchase the combo from the Tram Lower Terminus then you will need to fork out another HKD 48 to get to this view. Hmmmm. Completely deflated, we just decided to take the next bus down because the line for the tram was oh so long and we just didn’t have the energy for any more pushing and shoving! Not the best experience but perhaps one day my footsteps will take me back to Hong Kong and I may just get that signature shot after all! When you see beautiful pictures of a place, the writer very often forgets to throw in a snippet of reality. Well, my dear Wanderlusters, my reality on this experience is twofold. One – a lesson that I have learned and now implement everywhere I travel to, is to try and get advance tickets wherever possible. And two – I have chalked down my less than magical experience to my choice of day, which I am convinced wasn’t the best and now I try and choose off peak times to visit popular attractions.
Ocean Park is also close to the Main Island and is easy enough to get to on the Ocean Park bus. Having been bitten by the Victoria Peak Tram experience, I did try and google an option to purchase tickets in advance but at the time there was no option to reserve advance tickets and so we chanced it, being fully prepared to wait for a while to get in! The Universe must have wanted to make up for my disappointment because surprisingly there was no queue for getting in, and before we knew it, we were exploring the park.
You may be wondering why we chose to visit Ocean Park, having been to Disneyland a couple of days before. Well, I tell you what, we really really really wanted to see Giant Panda bears and Ocean Park is THE place to see them if you haven’t got time to find them elsewhere! And boy, we were not disappointed. Based in the Waterfront area of the park, Ying Ying and Le Le are two cute, cuddly giant teddy bear looking creatures that I wanted to snuggle up against! Perched in their grassy exhibits, they were pretty content to much on bamboo, letting the chewed up sticks fall on their rounded bellies! We could have watched them all day…check out the video below…isn’t this just so adorable?
Also in this exhibit are the Red Panda, which are the Giant Panda’s mainland cousins but look nothing like them (no big cuddly red looking creatures) but look starkingly similar to red foxes with their bushy tails.
There are a number of rides at Ocean Park for all ages, but none that we actually felt inclined to try out as the prospect of hanging out with penguins and arctic foxes at the North and South Pole encounters at the Summit, and wandering amongst sharks and giant manta stingrays in the Marine Exhibit was way more exciting!
And so, in the blink of an eye our adventures in Hong Kong come to a close. I must say though that like a lot of cities, we are not quite done yet and I feel like this was a mere taster of what Hong Kong has to offer and the surface of this cosmopolitan city has just been scratched. I can’t wait to be back someday and I hope that you have enjoyed this series! I always love hearing from you, so leave me a comment on what you thought about my escapades in this part of Asia below! Thank you for hanging out with me xoxo
On getting to The Peak
Make your way to Peak Tram Lower Terminus on Garden Road from MTR Central Station Exit J2r. I would recommend that you get a return the Peak Tram Sky Pass which combines both the Peak Tram & Sky Terrace 428. I wish we had!
Adult Return HK$ 90; Child Return HK$ 35
Check out the website http://www.thepeak.com.hk which is packed with information and will help you plan your trip out to The Peak.
-On getting to Man Mo Temple
Get to MTR Sheung Wan Station on the Metro, and use Exit A2. Walk along Hillier Street to Queen’s Road Central. Then proceed up Ladder Street (next to Lok Ku Road) to Hollywood Road where you will find the Man Mo Temple
-On getting to Ocean Park
You can get to Ocean Park using the special Citybus Ocean Park Express (Route 629) which you hop on to just outside the Star Ferry Terminal on the Main Island side.
Opening hours: 10 am to 6 pm
Costs: Adults: HKD 438, and Children: HKD 219
*Legalese: this was not a sponsored trip. My experiences are my own and as at the date of publishing this blog post, prices and routing information is correct however like anything in life, can change. Please do re-check before you travel! Thank you!