Saturday, September 22, 2012

Up to Ngong Ping and then up to The Peak

Weird, it does now seem that most of my trip to Hong Kong was spent trying to get physically as high as possible...

On Sunday, and I really hope not in response to my remarks about curry for breakfast (which I insisted was both very tasty yet slightly unusual to my palate at that time of day...) we ended up having breakfast at a marvellous little restaurant called The Flying Pan, which served breakfasts of all types, all day long, with all the trimmings. Pancakes and sausage for me then!

Sudip and I then took the MTR to Tung Chung, a corner of the country near to the airport which is quite mountainous and features an impressive gondola up to the peak. Being a big fan of gondolas, this was definitely on my list of things to do, let alone what we might find at the top of said gondola...


What the pictures don't show is the hour-long queue until you actually board the gondola, but that was no problem, because I had Sudip to chat to.

We paid just a little bit extra in order to ride the 'Crystal Car'. Can you see what the added feature (or rather, the 'missing feature') might be?

The gondola proceeded to take us up the mountain, and revealed to us the stunning view over the bay towards Hong Kong Island (though you couldn't see it because of the air) and also over the airport, where you could very easily see aircraft taking off and landing on the two runways of Chep Lap Kok. Sudip impressed me considerably with his ability to recognise different airliners from a long distance away - I struggle just telling Boeings and Airbuses apart! (though it's a bit easier if they have winglets).

The top of the mountain, known as Ngong Ping, was not just a tourist trap- it was a tourist village, populated with all sorts of interesting shops and obviously a collection of hawkers selling the usual tat. Watch for $3 anyone?

However, the real reason most people were there was to visit the humongous Buddha on one of the lower peaks. So we climbed the stairs and had a look around:

I couldn't work out what the statue was made from, nor how it was made. Since we were there primarily for the view, we turned town the offer of a guide (and a meal) but unfortunately I didn't find any sort of plaque explaining the information I was seeking... However the internet is a wonderful thing ( and I now know that it is a bronze statue (as I suspected). It is also relatively new, having been completed in 1993. So it's clearly built for only one reason - tourism!

We then discovered the 'real' reason for the village, which was a monastery - Po Lin Monastery. This was an impressive building which I completely failed to take a good photo of.

It struck me how commercial this temple was, as well - all around the monastery were boards of suggested donations, or price lists to have your name (or ornament) carved into various places on the building, which supposedly brings good luck. Furthermore, roving groups of monks would stop and perform chants at various places, much to the delight of the tourists. But they always seemed to do this just outside a souvenir shop, probably to the delight of the tourist shop owners...


Then I found a collection of gondola cabins from across the world!

On our way down, Sudip did his signature trick of attracting-lots-of-women:*

And I did mine of levitation:*

*(actually neither of us are particularly good at either of these!)

And of course, like any good Aero engineers, lots of photos of the airport were taken. Sudip was delighted to spot his first commercial use Airbus A380 on the way down:


And so we MTRd our way back across town back to Sudip's place, via an impressive shopping mall complete with an ice rink on the 2nd floor!

After a bit of time to change and freshen up, we were straight out the door again (Sudip promised me that he'd show me as much of Hong Kong as possible until I gave in and asked for some time out!) and went with Sudha and Dilip up to The Peak, on a saddle of the mountain atop Hong Kong Island, giving access to a splendid view of the city as well as a Madame Tussaud's gallery.

On top of the Peak, which you could access using the splendid Octopus card (much like the Oyster card in London, but was brought in first and is useful in so many more circumstances), there was a display of lots of old photographs of what Hong Kong used to look like before all the land reclamation and settlement by all nationalities made it the hugely bustling city it is today.


Oh I should have said, it was quite busy up there!

Dinner, again so kindly provided by Sudha and Dilip, was at a Chinese Restaurant and I tried Warm Corn Soup which tasted quite nice and was exactly as I'd imagine Warm Sweetcorn Juice to taste like. Ie, somewhat like chowder but less fishy.

And finally, we found a lovely view over the city and enjoyed the daily light show (at 8pm) in which many of the buildings around Hong Kong participate. Though it's quite hard to follow when you can't here the accompanying music, nor see the fronts of the buildings which are all facing the river!

After our journey up The Peak, we left for Chep Lap Kok, for Sudha was departing us that evening and heading back to India for a short while. This gave us a chance to see the amazing Chep Lap Kok airport up close, and inspired us to watch the Discovery Channel documentary when we got back which shows the planning of the airport move and then its execution... An amazingly impressive engineering project, if you have 45 minutes watch the show here:
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1 comment:

  1. Argh! I love looking at your China and HK photos. It's cool seeing photo's identical to one's I've taken, but with you in! I don't think I'd have enjoyed the crystal car though... x