on September 13, 2006
There are several ways to get to the lower peak station, depending on the direction you are coming from and just how inclined you are to walk. I have a tendency to walk as much as possible in an effort to obtain or retain my bearings. Another consideration was Hong Kong Park, just east of the station, which I planned on visiting first.From the Star Ferry Pier, my access point, bus 15C stops at the lower tram station on Garden road. I estimated that I would need 3 to 4 hours to enjoy the peak and hike.Peak Tram is a funicular railway, in operation since 1888, with two 72-seat cars going to Victoria Peak. Ascending, it hugs the mountain on the left, with valley views on the right. Departures are every 15 minutes between 7am and midnight, taking a mere 7 minutes to reach the top. The base station is 30’ above sea level and reaches 1800’ at the top. The track is quite steep curving between skyscrapers and mountains with a different scene around every turn of Hong Kong, Kowloon, and Victoria Harbor.Peak Tower at the summit has an odd-shaped top resembling half a watermelon. This tower reaches 1300’ and will offer several viewing platforms at different levels. New construction to be completed this year has added additional restaurants, shops, a festival market, and special-effects lighting. Even a calendar of events has been included. Best of all, there is now a viewing platform on top, the 8th floor.Until such time or in conjunction with, the Peak Galleria is the place to go. A multitude of upscale shops and restaurants await. Two outdoor viewing platforms, North Point and South Point offer views of the skyline, including the night show and Pok Fu Lam Reservoir respectively.Just across from the galleria you can have a photo taken while sitting in a rickshaw. If you even think about taking a picture with paying the owner, he quickly jumps up from somewhere waving his arms.Across from Lugard Road, a 10-minute walk south takes you to the lookout. Here, additional views of Hong Kong’s skyline and surrounding seas have fewer people. The island had appeared much larger when I walked along downtown dwarfed by numerous towering buildings. Now everything seems small and within walking distance.The trail leading straight up to Victoria Gardens at the center of the peak takes about 30 minutes. Each place I stopped the views were different. Walking farther revealed shorter buildings obstructed by taller ones while domes and spirals became more visible. At the gardens themselves were picnic tables and a large green lawn surrounded by flowering hydrangeas. Dragonflies and butterflies flitted from flower to flower, equally as colorful as the flowers. The unobstructed view of the reservoir is well worth the somewhat steep walk to the gardens.
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