Escalate / Day 16 of 64 / 25 May
At 7.30am, Sam jumped out of bed and showered. I was a little lazy so I let him shower first, while I got to enjoy another 30 minutes of rest. We checked out of our Airbnb and took a bus to Margaret’s Cafe e Nata, to try the egg tarts that we had missed yesterday. The tarts were delicious, as expected, and I feel they make a good breakfast meal when paired with some iced coffee. We bought a box of six, but only managed to eat four because they were too rich. So, we saved the other two for snack time.
After breakfast, we took another bus to the Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal, where our ferry to Hong Kong was departing from. We had bought tickets for the 11am ferry (TurboJET, turbojet.com.hk, 160 HKD/27 SGD/pax) but we decided to catch an earlier ferry after I noticed a sign listing “stand-by procedures”. Apparently, passengers are allowed to board earlier ferries, provided that there’s enough space on board for “stand-bys”. We tried to secure a spot on the 10.30am ferry, but it was full. Luckily, we managed to secure a seat on the 10.45am ferry instead.
Tekong ferry upgraded.
The ferry journey from Macau to Hong Kong takes 55 minutes, and we reached the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal [港澳客輪碼頭, Gong Ou Maa Tau] at around 12pm. After clearing Hong Kong immigration, we ate lunch at the terminal. With our hunger satisfied, we took the MTR to Tsim Sha Tsui Station and headed to our hostel.
Surprisingly, rooms in Hong Kong are cheaper than they are in Macau. All thanks to the infamous Chungking Mansions. The complex hosts many small guest houses which are further divided into tiny rooms. We managed to book a room for a decent price (by Hong Kong standards) at Sydney Hostel (43 SGD/night), located along the famous Nathan Road shopping area. By the time we had checked-in and settled down it was 2pm. The day was already half gone, and we had yet to begin our exploration of the city.
Spacious and luxurious! Living the dream in Chungking Mansions.
So, we rushed out of our room and headed for The Peak. By the time we reached Central MTR Station, it was around 3.30pm. Along the way, we were stopped by two police officers. They were carrying out routine checks and asked to see our ID. When they saw our Singaporean passports, they were shocked that we were able to speak (broken) Cantonese. We then made some small talk about what languages are spoken in Singapore, and how we had learnt to speak Cantonese. Before the Ah Sir and Madam left, we asked them where we could find some food. They directed us to the area around the Central-Mid-Levels Escalators [中環至半山自動扶梯系統, Zung Waan Zi Bun Saan Zih Duhng Fu Tai Haih Tung]. There, we ate at the famous Mak’s Noodle. Sam got a Shui Gao Mien, while I got the standard Wanton Mien. The noodles were great, but I felt the broth was what made the meal amazing. Definitely, a must try. But don’t expect the meal to sate your appetite: the portions are rather small.
The iconic Central-Mid-Levels Escalators.
Dou zeh sai Ah Sir and Madam!
After lunch, we headed to The Peak by boarding one of Hong Kong’s many iconic minibuses, or Siu Ba. We never knew taking a bus could be so complicated. We ended up missing our stop because we didn’t tell the driver we wanted to alight. In the minibuses, there may or may not be a bell to indicate that you want to alight. Either way, it’s much more reliable to just yell out “Ha Yat Zam Oi Lok” or “I want to alight at the next stop”. In shock that we missed our stop, we quickly alighted the first chance we got. That was when we realised our next mistake: you only tap your Octopus card when getting ON, and not once when getting on and once when getting off. Hong Kong’s minibuses are an efficient way to get around, but we should’ve done our research beforehand!
We finally got to The Peak Tramway [山頂纜車, Saan Deng Laam Ce] at 5pm. The queue for the tram was long, but it moved quickly: in about an hour we were already at the top of The Peak. We had bought one-way tickets for 84 HKD each. We reached the top just in time to see the setting sun cast a warm golden glow on the Hong Kong skyline. It was amazing to see how vast Hong Kong was, and how it seemed to stretch infinitely into the mountainous terrain.
Since we had bought one-way tickets, we headed to the bus station to catch a bus down. The bus is a good alternative to the tram: you’ll be able to catch an ever-changing view of the skyline as the bus winds its way down Victoria Peak. I’d recommend taking the tram up and the bus down to experience all the different views the mountain has to offer.
The bus calls at Admiralty MTR Station, and that was where we alighted. From the bus stop, we decided to explore the beautiful Victoria Harbour. Hong Kong really comes alive at night. At night, the unassuming skyscrapers turn into a canvas for neon artists. Almost every building has some sort of neon or LED fixture displaying vivid ads or amazing light shows. At night, Hong Kong transforms into every cyberpunk fan’s fantasy.
To end our first day in Hong Kong, we had some really comforting dim sum at One Dim Sum, located near Prince Edward MTR Station. This small restaurant is rather affordable: we paid around 70 HKD/14 SGD per person for six different dishes. But be prepared to wait, there was a queue outside when we reached at around 9.30pm. After dinner/supper, we headed back to our tiny hotel room on Nathan Road.
A comforting meal in a cozy restaurant.