Having spent the morning walking through the Central and lower Mid-Levels districts of Hong Kong and feasting on a lunch of Dim Sum, we were now ready for our afternoon adventure - Victoria Peak and Kowloon Island. We left Maggie (our tour guide for our morning trek) just before 2:00 pm and grabbed a taxi for the trip up to Victoria Peak. The taxi maneuvered through the busy streets of SOHO and finally wound its way up the mountain for about 20 minutes before dropping us off at the ground level of a bus parkade near the entrance of the site. I paid the driver the 72 Hong Kong Dollars (approximately 10 USD) for the ride and we walked out of the parkade and up towards the Peak.
As we made our way towards the lookout we had to first walk past the large and very modern Peak Galleria which boasts lots of food, entertainment and shopping options. There is also a rooftop terrace that purports spectacular (free) views of Hong Kong Harbour, but we chose to bypass the mall and made our way between the mall and the Peak Tower (not free) to a viewing area at the edge of the Peak.
Victoria Peak was a must stop for us, and Kim, an avid photographer, had worried that the unpredictable weather in mid December would veil the views and photos of the harbour. Perhaps because of our visit to the Man Mo temple earlier in the day, and the Feng Shui from the Statue Square area, we were blessed with cloudless blue skies and perfect views of the city below. We had heard that the peak can be extremely busy with throngs of tourists, however, on this particular afternoon, while there were lots of people, we did not find the lookout to be overly crowded.
We spent approximately 30 minutes milling about the lookout area and taking photos of the city below from various angles. We were able to pick out some of the spots that we had walked through in the morning, including the HSBC building and we got a preview of our next destination across the harbour on Kowloon island, including the hotel that Karen and Geoff were staying at (Marco Polo Hotel) right at the waterfront and the port where our Cruise ship would be departing the following afternoon.
We reluctantly left the spectacular views from Victoria Peak as we needed to head back to Kowloon island in order to see some of the markets on Kim’s itinerary before our 6:30pm dinner reservation. It was a 5 minute walk back to the Parkade where the taxi had dropped us off. Our morning tour guide, Maggie, had suggested that we could take a bus back from the Peak right to the Star Ferry terminal, since that is where we would cross the harbour from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon Island.
We picked up the bus right next to where the taxi had dropped us off, and after paying our 6 HKD (less than 1 USD) bus fare, we headed back down the mountain towards Hong Kong Harbour. While the mid-afternoon trip up the mountain by cab had taken only 20 minutes, the bus ride back would prove to be far longer. The first part of the trip went well enough, but as we approached the busier streets closer to the financial district, the traffic became more and more challenging. After an hour-long bus ride, we finally made it to the Central Star Ferry Pier.
We purchased our tickets for the ride on the Star Ferry across to Kowloon Island where we were dropped off at Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry Pier, right in front of the Marco Polo Hotel where Karen and Geoff were staying.
The boardwalk in front of the Marco Polo was graced with gigantic gold and pastel coloured ornaments. We continued into the hotel through the side entrance into an annex that was covered from floor to ceiling in glistening Christmas decorations. After confirming with Karen and Geoff that we would meet them for dinner at 6:30pm at the Nanhai No1 Restaurant (just a few blocks from their hotel), Kim and I carried on to the Tsim Tsui subway station for the 10 minute subway ride to Prince Edward station (5.50 HKD per person).
Exiting Prince Edward Station into the long shadows of late afternoon, we walked a few blocks towards the first of the 4 markets that were on our itinerary. Hong Kong’s markets, in this part of Kowloon, are named based on what they are known for. The first market we walked through was the Flower Market, and for several blocks, each stall was filled with either fresh cut flowers, potted plants, cactus and at this time of year, poinsettias and Christmas trees.
After wandering past stall after stall of fragrant flowers and exotic plants, we could see the sign that directed us to our next destination - the Bird Market. Unlike the Flower Market which has rows of shops along the street that spill out onto the sidewalk, the Bird Market is in a semi covered stucco building just off one of the side streets at the far end of the Flower Market. We could hear the piercing screeches of the birds well before we got to the entrance which was up a long ramp along the side of the building. The Bird Market is a cacophony of shrill sounds that takes a few minutes to get accustomed to. This is made bearable by the incredible kaleidoscope of colours from the thousands of birds (some flying free), and variety of cages that fills the market. Because we had arrived so late in the afternoon, many of the stalls were beginning to close up and most of the visitors had already left so we were able to move quickly through market.
Leaving the Bird Market, we retraced our steps past the Flower Market and crossed a couple of side streets to begin our journey through the Goldfish market. The Goldfish Market is in a busier corridor than the Flower and Bird Markets and as we approached it, we noticed more and more people on the streets. We arrived at the Goldfish Market just as the last vestiges of daylight were disappearing and the myriad neon lights of storefronts on either side of the street began to flicker on. Whereas the Bird Market was conspicuous by the piercing sounds of screaming birds, the Goldfish Market is defined by bright, deep colours and light. In fact, upon entering the Goldfish Market, I thought I was looking at walls that were covered in bulbous light bulbs, only to discover that they were rows and rows of clear plastic bags filled with water and fish ready to be purchased and taken home.
After walking for several blocks through the Goldfish Market we cut over a couple of more streets to the famous Ladies Market on Tung Choi Street and began our trek south towards the harbour. The Ladies Market is a pedestrian zone in one of the most densely populated suburbs in the world. Walking, or rather pushing our way through it at this very busy time of day was quite challenging. The market itself is renowned for its inexpensive deals on clothes, fake brand name watches and purses as well as every tourist souvenir imaginable. We managed about 30 minutes of wading past stall after stall filled to overflowing with goods of every kind and finally decided to cut back to the Yau Ma Tei Station and take the subway back to Tsim Sha Tsui so that we could meet up with Karen and Geoff for dinner.
We emerged from the subway station and looked for the signs that led us to iSquare mall which is where the restaurant was located. After meandering around the various escalators and following more signs through the iSquare complex, we finally made it to an elevator that was dedicated to a couple of the more exclusive eating establishments in the complex. We took the elevator to the 30th floor and alighted at the entrance to the restaurant. Nanhai No1 Restaurant had been recommended to us by a close friend, Simon Ling, who had grown up in Hong Kong and now resides with his family in Toronto. It is a modern Asian fusion restaurant that is perfect if you are looking for a wide variety of Asian food coupled with great atmosphere and a spectacular view across Hong Kong harbour from a perfect vantage point.
Our waiter provided us with an overview of the menu and we decided to let him choose our dishes. He summoned the Sommelier who made his wine suggestions based on what the waiter had recommended to us for dinner. On the waiters suggestion, we decided to go with a number of sharing dishes that included barbecued pork, peking duck, beef brisket, whole shrimp, fried rice and fried buns. The choices were excellent and more than enough for the 4 of us. We ended our dinner on the restaurant patio that overlooks the Harbour and watched as the nightly Laser Light Show danced along the buildings across the harbour.
Shortly after 9:00 pm we decided it was time to head back and get rested for our second day in Hong Kong. We walked with Geoff and Karen to the entrance of the subway where we said our good nights and left them to walk back to their hotel while we took the subway back to Hong Kong Island. The trip from Tsim Sha Tsui to Swuang Wan took about 15 minutes and then it was another 10 minute walk to our apartment on Hollywood Road. At 10:00 pm, the Central Region was much quieter than the hustle and bustle of the Canton Road area where we had eaten dinner. In fact there were only a few cars and even fewer people as we walked the last few steps to our apartment.
This had been an incredibly busy day for both of us and we felt extremely tired but still filled with the wonders we had seen throughout the day and the anticipation of our next day in Hong Kong. We showered and changed and went to bed hoping that we would get a good night’s sleep so that we would be refreshed for our adventure to Lantau Island and the Giant Buddha.
Adventures in South East Asia - Hong Kong Part 1 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Hong Kong Part 3 & Onboard Azamara Day 1 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 2 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 3 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 4 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 5 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 6 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 7 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 8 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 9 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 10 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 11 - click here
Sharing Our Travel Dreams
Sharing our personal experiences onboard and on the road, along with tips and insight for creating memorable vacations.