Sunday, May 25, 2014

Hong Kong - Day 2

We had another good breakfast at the hotel this morning. I tried the pancakes and they were delicious served with natural maple syrup. The coffee is also good, hot and strong brewed individually on an espresso machine. Our plan for the day was to visit Victoria Peak. Before going sightseeing we went looking for an ATM to replenish our supply of HK$. We didn't find the ATM but stumbled upon Hong Kong Park where we realized we were only a short walk from the Peak Tram so we headed toward the peak without stopping for cash.

Hong Kong Park
Hong Kong Park
It was a beautiful day today and we enjoyed the walk through the park, but when we arrived at the tram we we found that the nice weather encouraged many visitors to Victoria Peak, and there was a long line for tickets and access to the tram. We stood in line under hot sun for about a half hour until we reached the ticket counter where I learned that only HK$ and no credit cards are accepted for tram tickets, and I was short the required amount of cash. I feared I was going to have to go find an ATM and re-enter the line when to my relief a kind patron in line near me offered to exchange some of my US dollars for Hong Kong currency. I bought our tickets and we made our way to the tram.

Victoria Peak Tram
The tram ride was crowded but quick and we were soon at the top. After disembarking you must navigate several floors of escalators past many shops and restaurants to get to the observation deck. The view from the deck was magnificent, especially with the clear skies we were fortunate to have. We spent ample time viewing and photographing the vistas, and posed for one of the pro photographers up there. We returned inside and after a little shopping and waiting for our pro shot to be processed, we were ready to go back down. The zig zag queue for the return tram was exceedingly long so we took the public bus back down. The bus trip was a longer ride but it was air conditioned and there was no line. An unexpected bonus was that it dropped us off very near our hotel.

View from Victoria Peak
Pro Shot
This evening we had the pleasure of reuniting with several of the former students that lived at Gram's house back in the 90's. We met with Jacky, Wai, Bob and their wives, and were also joined by Gary, Stanley, and Bob's 2 charming little boys. They treated us to an amazing authentic Chinese banquet at the Xin Dau Ji restaurant in the popular Causeway Bay area of Hong Kong. Course after course of some exotic looking foods were served family style on a rotating tabletop, and Wai made sure to serve me some of each. I was surprised that some I might have otherwise avoided were quite delicious.

Chinese Dinner Party
Hong Kong Friends
After dinner Bob took his family home while the others took us to see the Temple Street Night Market. The night market is an open air collection of street vendors and fortune tellers that is similar to a flea market but unlike any I have seen before. It opens in the afternoon and stays open until 3 or 4 in the morning. After finding a couple of souvenirs at the Night Market we all returned back to my hotel to share drinks and memories. It was a pleasant reunion and we were sad for it to end. We parted with promises to meet again in the future.
Temple Street Night Market
Night Market Vendors

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