Odd. That’s how it feels for a tourist to have visited Hong Kong in 1996, revisited several times and haven’t been to one of the island’s famous attraction- the Victoria Peak.
A travel neophyte at an age when shopping was on top of the priority rather than cultural exploration, I entered Hong Kong on the sale season. It was ‘the’ shopping destination in Asia where everything—from Giordano to Louis Vuitton—can be snagged at a lower price than its counterparts in the region.
Even with a trip to The Peak included in the tour package, I didn’t show up at the lobby at the appointed time. It was just too early in the morning and I refused to get untangled from the warm envelope of the comforter. Poor tour guide, the countless calls to the room were left unanswered.
Ocean Park was the top attraction then. I made it there. The thick-lipped, giant garupa made an impression.
I’m not a fan of rollercoasters and thrill rides but I made it to Disneyland four years after it opened in 2005. In the company of adult friends, the ride in teacups and small boat that cruised along the “small world’s” river was awesome. That’s as much excitement as I can take.
Twenty years after, I finally made it to The Peak. Am I the only tourist who has frequented Hong Kong and not seen the place? Perhaps.
I was on my annual birthday escape and I pinpointed Hong Kong as the destination, not seeing the place for the past seven years. It was intended purely to rest, a staycation at the Marco Polo Hongkong hotel, after making a million steps in Taipei, Kyoto, Tokyo and Bangkok 60 days prior to the visit.
Often times, having no itinerary works best. The “just get lost” and spur of the moment decisions can produce the most fun moments. It was on a moment like this that got me to see Victoria Peak.
After walking through SoHo, Causeway bay and other areas in Hong Kong island, and still got time to spare, my good friend suggested to head to The Peak.
“It’s a good time for a walk in this cool weather. Hong Kong is a beautiful sight at night seen from the top,” Ogie said.
Victoria Peak is Mount Austin, aka The Peak to the locals, is the highest mountain in Hong Kong island that offers a magnificent panorama of Central, Victoria harbor and the surrounding islands. It’s the view the residents of the upmarket residential area get to enjoy.
The original 19th century residents were transported via sedan chairs until the funicular railway was built. It would have been a treat to hop on the 120-year old ride but we opted for the bus at Central.
To see Hong Kong’s panorama, the viewing deck with telescopes of the anvil shaped Peak Tower can be a nice spot, however Ogie had a better plan that included a bit of exercise via Lugard Road.
Lugard Road, named after Sir Frederick Lugard, governor from 1907-12, is a 2.4-kilometer, semi-circular walking path that follows the contour of the hillside at The Peak. Several points along the narrow path offer stunning views of the city.
Ogie has walked the path several times with visitors in tow. It was my turn for the relaxing evening walk that took an hour to complete. Along the way I was able to bear witness to the bright lights of the dynamic city from the higher ground.
Yep, Hong Kong is exciting as it was on my first visit 20 years ago. The place is more expensive in this era though so no shopping for me, I just enjoyed the cuisine, the hospitality of Marco Polo Hongkong hotel, the company of a good friend and a few new sights to add to my list, which The Peak is now part of—finally.
To get to Victoria Peak: Take bus 15C from Central Pier 8 or walk from MTR Central Station Exit J2 to take the Peak Tram from the Peak Tram Lower Terminus on Garden Road; or, bus 15 from Exchange Square bus terminus (near MTR Hong Kong Station, Exit D); or, minibus 1 from the public transport interchange at MTR Hong Kong Station, Exit E.
Also published in the SunStar Davao newspaper.