The first day of the New Year was our third day in Hong Kong. After a great trip to Macau and the chaotic New Year celebrations the previous night, we were looking forward to further exploring the city. We decided to check-out the attractions near our hotel in Hollywood Road – also known as Antique Street. This road and its side streets are lined with various antique shops and other stores selling all manners of goods – from bric-a-brac and fake antiques in Cat Street to glass-fronted shop-houses with more expensive displays. I was almost scammed into buying one of those “Ming Dynasty” charms being gullible and all – thanks to the ever skeptical shopper beside me.
Just opposite Cat Street was the magnificent Man Mo Temple. Built during the early years of British rule, it is one of the oldest and best-known temples on Hong Kong Island. The temple was used by the locals to settle disputes that could not be solved by British law and to discuss community affairs. Today, most visitors stop by to check out their chances for good luck in the future.
After visiting the temple, we took the train to Admiralty and walked towards the tram station en route to Victoria Peak. We passed by some cheerful kababayan playing hip hip – hooray while some were having a picnic in the parks. (It must have been their day-off). I have been looking forward to the tram ride – one of the oldest forms of transportation in Hong Kong. The Peak Tram is an attraction in itself delighting visitors of all ages with a great view and thrilling ride to the steep slope towards the Tower. The queue to the tram station however, was so long we decided to take the cab instead.
The view from the Peak was spectacular. It is probably the best place to get a good perspective of Hong Kong being the highest point on the island. As usual, the place was packed with tourists and I saw many more kababayan taking a break from work and having a picnic in the park. Being so busy (the Peak attracts over 6 million visitors every year), I wasn’t surprised to see yet another mall there!
After a bit of exploring, Charlie found the tourist information center inside a tram-like carriage, where he got some free maps of the Peak and brochures about hiking trails and other Hong Kong outdoor activities. We wandered off the Tower and followed the 360 degree walking route towards the Victoria Peak Garden. Our pleasant walk to the summit was rewarded with picturesque view of the harbor, verdant hills, deep valleys, and the beautiful coves and beaches of HK.
On the way back from the summit, we noticed there were many people on top of the wok-shaped Peak Tower, so we decided to have a look. Unfortunately, you have to pay 25hk$ to be able to access the rooftop observation area. We’ve seen pretty much the same thing from many vantage points on the Peak so we thought it wasn’t worth it. We then took a minibus back to Central and caught the Star Ferry to Tsim ShaTsui to catch the Symphony of Lights.
Along with Victoria Peak, watching the Symphony of Lights is something you should not miss in your itinerary. This extravagant multimedia light and laser show orchestrated into a beautiful symphony will not disappoint those who seek an impressive FREE entertainment at night. It features over 37 buildings on both sides of Victoria Harbor utilizing various kinds of lights like LED, lasers, search lights and projection lights accompanied by music and narration. The show takes places every night at 8pm and lasts for 15 minutes illuminating the skyline of HK into a choreographed spectacle of lights.
Also along the waterfront in Kowloon is the Avenue of Stars. Much like Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, the names of famous actors and actresses are emblazoned into plaques. Visitors can also watch a video about the local movie industry and see sculptures of some notable stars like Bruce Lee, souvenir kiosk and other trivia about HK film history. We opted to wait however in the waterfront to secure our spot for the light show. Truly enough, a few minutes before the show started, the place was jam-packed with visitors.
After the show, we took the train to Yau Ma Tei and walked to Temple Street Night Market for our last stop of the day. The market operates between 3pm and 11 pm and is at it’s busiest from 9pm onwards. If I could only visit one market in HK, Temple Street Night Market would be my top choice. It is one of the biggest markets around where you get to experience authentic Chinese food in dai pai dongs, practice your haggling skills, marvel at the street theater, consult all kinds of fortune tellers, listen to Cantonese Opera and of course shop shop and shop at its cheap stalls of souvenirs and clothes. We stocked up on some souvenirs from one of the stalls which are being sold ridiculously cheap compared to the posh shops here in Manila.
After the markets, we made our way back the hotel exhausted after another busy day of sight seeing, yet excited for the adventure we had planned for the next day – hiking the Dragon’s Back!