Hong Kong Day 6 - Peak Time

6 October 2009

Monday 5th October

I was stiff this morning after yesterday’s hiking. It hurt to stand up and sit down, so I was hoping to spend most of the day in a sitting position.

We went for some Taiwanese food, which consisted of various dishes of chicken, pork, fried rice, noodles and slices of kidney. They do seem to enjoy their offal here, and the kidneys were pretty tasty.

We had a quick look around the jade market - lots of stalls of green jewellery with no prices listed anywhere, so haggling must be the only way, though you’d have no idea if you’d just been taken for a mug. It was in a big shed which is I think the only non-air-conditioned building we’ve come across.

We went for a coffee and then headed for the tram that goes up Victoria peak at a 27 degree angle. We’d probably chosen the wrong time to go as the queues were huge. It must have taken about an hour to get to the tram. Once upon a time this was probably quite a pleasant experience but unfortunately the Tussaud’s group has taken over and turned the whole thing into a touristy theme park ride. You’d think with their experience of running actual theme parks like Alton Towers that they’d have a decent queueing system, but as the queue narrowed through a small bottleneck, an undignified scrum of elbows and shoving emerged. It’s impossible to sit together as everyone rushes for seats - indeed Rachel ended up getting a different tram entirely.

At the top, the delights of Madame Tussauds awaited tourists with more money and less sense than us. Instead, we grimaced at the tacky gift shops and Disneyland promotional stand and made our way up to the “Sky Terrace” which offered some nice views of Hong Kong at night - sadly it was totally rammed and frankly the views aren’t much different to those you can get for free elsewhere.

We declined the opportunity to have our photo taken with a giant prawn, and sat for a bit in the tourist information office in a converted old tram, looking at some leaflets and taking advantage of the free wi-fi.

There is a circular walk you can take from the peak which lasts about an hour. We did a small section - it was completely silent apart from the chirp of crickets, and a much nicer place to look at the lights of the city below. But we were getting hungry so we headed back to the tram. The queues were more orderly on the way down. It was 10pm and the queues were much shorter at the bottom too - if anyone’s planning a visit I’d recommend heading for the tram pretty late in the evening.

We returned to Mong Kok and went to a place called Cheers Restaurant which was huge and busy. You sit at a table with a hotplate in the middle and they put a big cauldron of stock on it, then you order raw meat and vegetable ingredients which you boil in the pot. Tasty, cheap and quite fun, though I wonder who would take responsibility for food poisoning if you didn’t cook your chicken properly. Beer was very cheap as well, about £1 for a large bottle - sadly it was American Budweiser but we couldn’t argue with the price. The entire meal including drinks cost about £8.

We then headed out to some bars in the Prince Edward area where the beer was much more expensive. It turned out they were karaoke bars, and the locals take their karaoke seriously. They seemed to know the words well and were singing in tune, into wireless microphones as they sat around their tables, often to the seeming disinterest of their friends. We went to the machine and queued up a load of English tracks. As we screeched, shouted and chuckled our way through Hotel California, Suspicious Minds and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, the bar emptied pretty quickly.