Go ahead and be that guy for an afternoon. Be that tourist with the pulled-up socks, the knee-length khaki shorts, and the camera band around the neck (okay, don’t go that far). I usually shy away from those attractions that tend to pull in my fellow tourists, but I couldn’t help but succumb to the magnetic force of Victoria Peak, the highest point on Hong Kong Island, affording breathtaking views of the city below, even on hazy afternoons.
As we made our way through Hong Kong Park towards the western end, we suddenly stumbled upon an influx of white people—yes, there it is, the tram station for trips to the top of the peak. Don’t sweat the long queue you’re likely to encounter here—it moves relatively quickly, and of course, the goods up top live up to the hype. Prepare to cough up the modest round-trip fee of HK$30 for your tram ride, with the option to pay a little more for admission to Ripley’s Believe It or Not and other gross tourist stuff located at the top. Skip it and save that money for some candy from Aji Ichiban.
As you grab a seat inside the red tram, adorned with dangling red bulbs tacked on around the ceiling, you’ll likely be amongst a near-equal mix of tourists and locals. This tram has been running since 1888, and holds 95 people max, with room for 25 to stand. That may be the case, but you will NOT get me on this tram with 95 people crammed in it. Inching up the side of the mountain is somewhat harrowing, as you’ll hit a 27-degree incline. Don’t worry, though—the tram staff know you’re very anxious to see Ripley’s, and uphold the highest of safety standards.
After making your way past the inevitable souvenir shops and stands, you’ll finally emerge onto the main viewing deck, where you can play Joe Tourist all you want and fill up rolls of film with eye-popping views. There are coin-operated binoculars here too, like the ones Clark and Rusty Griswold used in Paris. After you’ve seen enough, there are plenty of other diversions to prolong your time at the Peak, such as a shopping mall, restaurants, bars, and Madame Tussaud’s, which boasts what has to be the most unpopular wax likeness ever—George W. Bush. "Look, Mom! Isn’t this hilarious? I got my picture with Dubya!" "Son, put that picture away—and never show it again."
Even though we didn’t get the pure, undulating views of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon on our visit, it was still an excursion well worth taking. Now if only I can find me a pair of khaki shorts that don’t quite hit my knees, I’ll be all set.
***My photos were taken at too high a resolution, and I couldn't shrink them for the site. I've included two shots here of buildings you'll see from up top. I've learned my lesson, Mr. Miyagi.***