Saturday, July 14, 2007

Hong Kong: The Peak

Victoria Peak (or "The Peak") is this amazingly high mountain reachable by tram that has an air-conditioned mall/observation deck shaped like an Imperial Star Wars vehicle on top, surrounded by beautiful hiking paths, giant man-eating rubber trees, and views of the China Sea. It was clear within minutes of arival that I should spend the entire day and evening there.

Inside the observation deck is a multi-floor mall of souvenir shops, coffee shops (including one that has snagged the best corner glass window looking out onto the skyscrapers below), restaurants, an Internet café, and most importantly, the BEST AIR CONDITIONER IN THE WORLD!

(Ok, I have no idea if it really is, but when you've just traversed blocks worth of 100+ F humid sweaty Communist heat, the shear intensity of commercial coldness enveloping you like an ice pack of Capitalism feels oh so good.)

Nearby, there are hiking trails leading around the top and down to the bottom of the other side (which view Aberdeen and the China Sea). Even though it was hot, the beauty of it all and overpriced caffeine kept me trudging sweatily forward. And I knew that once around again, there'd be that oh-so-nice blast of freezing air. Along the path in parts, mysterious driveways to presumably hidden mansions or resort hotels, some with "for lease" signs. (If I remember correctly, it was $28,000 Hong Kong dollars a month for one of them -- a mere $3,500? Wow! It was $8000 a month for a small place on Telegraph Hill, San Francisco during the height of the boom. Maybe one of the man-eating rubber trees has diminished its value.)

Not knowing really where else to see in Hong Kong, I waited until the sun set, as more and more locals and tourists arrived by tram to take snapshots of the city. I heard more English spoken around me than in I had in weeks. Hong Kong at night is gorgeous -- not quite as sci-fi as Shanghai (the buildings being older) but still having animated lighting.

Up next: Forget Hong Kong Disneyland. Ocean Park is the place to be!

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posted by Brian at 12:18 PM


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