Sunday, March 11, 2012

I get around: The ding-ding tram

The award for most charming transportation mode goes to the old-fashioned, double-decker electric trams that have been ambling up and down Des Voeux Road on tracks through the north shore districts of Hong Kong Island for over 100 years. They're known locally as the ding-ding, from their gently clanging bell - their practicality is limited by their small range and slow speed, but if you have the time, they're great fun. For so little money they may as well be paying the passengers, you can hop up and go up to the front of the top deck. If the weather is balmy and the windows open, it's like a magic carpet ride - hovering along quietly above the street, looking down on the passing scene and out into second-story windows, a warm breeze ruffling your hair. I took them as much as possible. (Also, they're good for advertising love sales, if you're having a love sale.)

I get around: The subway

The MTR (Mass Transit Railway) puts New York's subway system to shame with its spaciousness, speed, efficiency, ease of use, cheapness and cleanliness. Of course, that's to a great degree because it's much newer, having mostly been built since the '70s. NYC's system is over 100 years old and there's a  limit to how much retrofitting can be done to upgrade it. And it has more character, local color and history - so there are always tradeoffs. Still, we could take some lessons. Particularly in the cleanliness department.

Yes, New York, that is a subway station. Not an airport terminal or a Bond villain's lair.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Living in a light show.

At night, the wall of mostly fairly ordinary skyscrapers near the waterfront become dreamlike with neon and other colored lights that make my eyes so happy I don't care if it's garish or tacky. As if that's not enough, every night at 8:00 there's the Symphony of Lights, when they pulse on and off and shimmer in time to electronic music piped over P.A. systems, with spotlights and lasers shooting into the sky. I'm not making this up.

Night wandering (and foraging)

Maybe my favorite thing to do was just wander around the streets, especially at night. A sampling here from just one evening, with more to come.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Walk on the not-so-wild side: Around the Peak

A leisurely five-minute walk away from the malls and souvenir booths and swarming families is a lovely, quiet path around the Peak. 

Ain't no mountain high enough...

... but this one will do for now. Victoria Peak, or just "The Peak," towering over the middle of Hong Kong Island  - the central fact that the island's urban planners, architects, real estate developers, etc., must contend with. I went up three times over my two weeks there, at daylight, sunset and night. This is the first time - the weather wasn't very cooperative - it was mostly cloudy, and rained off and on. But that could only make a dent in the seismic awesomeness. Below is my own take on the classic picture-postcard view. Do an image search for "Hong Kong" and at least half of what comes up will be variations on this shot.