18.01.2008 - 18.01.2008 16 °C
We were up early today as the jet lagged kicked in a little and we couldn't sleep, so we went for a wander down Nathan Road. It's a glitsy street and although it hasn't got any tourist sites as such, it's an interesting walk. There are numerous huge ramshackle buildings - some are apartment blocks and others contain seedy little guesthouses- as well as top- end hotels and some expensive shops towards the Hong Kong Island end. We were approached at least 8 times on the walk down by Indian men trying to encourage us to visit their tailor shops, and others trying to sell us fake Rolex watches. One of the most infamous buildings on Nathan Road is Chungking Mansions, a huge ramshackle building containing mainly cheap backpacker-type hostels but also curry houses, cheap hairdressers and more. It looks hideous from the outside and Lonely Planet describes it as smelling of 'cooking fat, incense and shit'. Much of the building was renovated in 1993 after a crackdown on fire regulations - for years there was talk of pullling it down due to it being an eye sore and death trap and many places had to close after the crackdown. It's the cheapest place to stay in HK and houses many workers from India aswell as backpackers.
After Nathan Road it's a short walk to the Star Ferry terminal where little deisel boats leave every few minutes for Hong Kong Island. It's quicker to get the MRT (underground) from one side to the other but the Star Ferry is one of those touristy things that you just have to do in HK. It's quite dramatic at night when the HK Island skyline is all lit up. It costs HK$1.7 (about 12p) and takes around 10 minutes. The harbour is half the size it was in the mid 19th Century, due to land reclamation - whereby parts of the harbour is filled in with land to make room for more buildings. Many locals are concerned that Hong Kong's most scenic and important spot could one day be lost forever.
At the other side we met two of Stephen's friend's, Craig and Kandace, who were passing through on their way from Korea to China. We then made the short walk to Victoria Peak - another 'must see' in Hong Kong as it provides the best views of the city. It's the highest point on HK Island at 552m and it's worth re-visiting at night. In spite of being much more commercialised than when I was last there 8 years ago, with a huge shopping centre now there, it's still worth doing. The best way to get up there is using the Peak tram, which has been running continuously since 1888 (apart from during WW11 and in 1966 when landslides washed some of the mountain away). We spent some time up here taking photos, had some food and then got the tram back down.
We then had a late lunch in Japanese noodle bar in the trendy restaurant district of Soho before heading to the Museum of Art. There wasn't much that I found interesting in this place, but was too tired to enjoy it anyway as by this stage I was really feeling the effects of the jet lag. After a couple of hours sleep at the hostel we found another cheap noodle place similar to last night in busy Mong Kok and then had another wander round the night markets.