Fast forward to my arrival in Hong Kong on August 5th. I was here to start a new teaching job, but the thought that this was really, really it – after being hired way back in January – sunk in like a ton of HKD coins in my pockets. I was really not living in Shanghai any more, and I didn’t know HK that well. At least, not like I’d come to know Shanghai and some of its alleys, its streets in Jing’An and the FFC, the parks and people, and, my favourite – the marriage market at People’s Square. I mean, I had gotten offers, people. Tempting, but I had to say ‘no’ to the proffered blind dates…
Strangely, I realized that I did miss my former stomping grounds, the very curious neighbors I had, and the constant “beep, beep, beep!” of the scooters, buses, and cars. Constant noise and traffic. People shouting in Mandarin. Having to use elbows and hips to get in to the Metro or other tight spaces.
Hong Kong is simpler than that, an easy transition from Shanghai. All the MTR stops are pretty idiot-proof, especially if you look at the massive maps before you exit. You can find anything on the street level, and then there are signs to guide you to where you need to be. On the main island, you can tram it everywhere, which I recommend if you have time. They are a worthy pursuit for only $2.30 HKD! If trams aren’t your jam, there are buses and taxis galore. Taxi drivers vary in English level, so it’s still very handy to have a card in Chinese ready for them.
Last weekend, I spent the hottest day on record, well, since weather record-keeping became a thing, riding the tram. I took the MTR Island Line (dark blue) down to Kennedy Town (a very fun area, but way too far to live in and commute!), where many of the trams (called ding-dings) get their start.
If you want to ride it for a long way, snag a seat on the upper level, as better to see the landscape change as you ride it. Sniff the curious medicinal and herbal fragrance emanating from the Chinese medicine shops and dried objects shops along Des Voeux Road.
Of course, the buildings get fancier and prettier and more expensive as you make your way toward Central and the Peak, then they level out into more residential areas around Tin Hau, Fortress Hill, and Northpoint. Since it was stinging hot outside – and the trams rely on the fresh air blowing through as it moves to cool it – I stopped in Happy Valley (roughly half way down the tram line) for a lunch at a little French gastropub near the race track. The Eggs Benedict and icy Perrier did the trick, as did the chilling air con.
I hopped back on, but since it was even more ungodly hot now, I got out at my hotel near Northpoint and resolved on riding the tram to its conclusion when the weather was more agreeable. If you want to hop, skip, and jump (and aren’t in a very big hurry) along King’s/Queen’s Road, you can’t do any better than the lovely, old school tramway system.