We made our recent Hong Kong trip right on the tail of 2 typhoons in the region. In fact we nearly had to call off our trip due to that uncertainty. But I was pretty insistent on taking the trip and yes some would have called me mad, given that flights were cancelled the morning before our departure due to a Signal 8 raised in Hong Kong and we didn’t really know what kind of weather we were getting ourselves into once we got to Hong Kong. The upside, I became quite the typhoon tracker expert after this trip :p
In any case, the airport reopened and flights resumed and we got to our destination safely and landed in dry and sunny conditions! Phew!
We decided to stay at Nathan Hotel on Nathan Road this time around. Given that it was going to be a really short trip, we wanted somewhere very central for food as well as a short walking distance to an MTR (3 mins walk to Jordan MTR).
We were fortunate than our room was ready for us at 11am despite check-in being only at 2pm. Apparently many guests checked out the night before or in the wee hours of the morning before our arrival because they were able to get on their newly timed flights. We comfortably settled lunch in the vicinity and then the kids got their much deserved nap time, after enduring a 3am wake up call from their parents.
How difficult could that be right? We took a train from Jordan MTR to Central MTR (10-15mins ride?) and it was a relatively simple 10 mins walk from Central MTR to the Peak Lower Terminus where we would take the Peak Tram up.
That is until we turned the corner and saw how long the queue to purchase a tram ticket was. I didn’t take a photo because I was absolutely shocked. I’m honestly not sure if this is the usual weekend crowd or it was a result of people being trapped indoors for the last 48 hours due to the typhoon. Well we had 2 options – turn around and run for the hills (no pun intended) or queue (it looked like a 2-3 hour queue at least). It was 6pm..kids were pumped up for a tram ride which we probably oversold to them and we were too hungry and still tired to recalibrate.
Luckily we saw a sign that said express tram ticket but it involved us purchasing a package that included a ticket to Madame Tussaud’s Wax Musuem. Well at that point, anything to beat the queue and get out of there so we paid 10x the price literally and were on our way.
Well almost, we had to queue another 30-45 mins or so to get on the tram because they were alternating entry between big groups and independent travellers. Well ok still on track for dinner at 7pm at least…
The kids were intrigued by the tram going uphill so steeply (like a rollercoaster they say) though I would say that a day time tram ride would probably have been better for them visually. But that’s a toss up between the visual impact of going uphill and seeing the lights and the skyline which pops out at you in the night.
We got to the peak station and managed to settle dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company before the crowd started thickening..honestly the food was rather disappointing and everything just well tasted fried..I mean I know it’s fried food but it was tasteless and just tasted like oil..really different from what we remembered from the US.
We were quite fortunate that we ended up buying the package because the kids were pretty keen to check out Madame Tussaud’s (who would have thought). We moved through the exhibits pretty quickly (spent about 30 mins or so?) but the kids were quite happy to pose for most (some) of the photos :p
We made the customary trip to the viewing area but ended up leaving within 5 minutes. The droves of tour groups up there, was pure madness! Guides were screaming and waving, and people were crowding walkways to pay, to get their photos taken. Not to mention that the vents from the restaurants seems to be spewing smoke out into that ‘confined’ space. Really a far cry from what I remembered it to be almost 15 years ago when we were up there for a school trip.
We finally made our way down to the peak station (our package came with a return ticket) at about 930pm. A sign told us that the wait time to get onto a tram to lower peak terminus was about 1 hour. We decided to forgo our ticket and walk over to the cab stand which also looked about an hour Long 😦 and didn’t seem to be moving at all. But we were kind of stranded at that point and had to just wait in line for a cab.
So here’s a little tip 😉 while waiting for our cab queue to move, I started googling for a taxi app and found one that was in English! The app is called HK Taxi and it is a bright red app. You could indicate the extra tip you are willing to pay to entice a cab to take your booking. I eventually up my tip when no one was taking my booking after trying for 5 minutes and scored a cab rather quickly. The app is best used if you have a local phone number which we did because we got a local Sim for data and it came with some free call credits. The driver called us immediately to tell us that he was 5 minutes away, asked us to look out for his cab number and hop in because he was not allowed to stop in that area to wait. I spoke to the cab driver in Cantonese but I’m sure they would be able to cope with some English, given that they ask you what your preferred language is when making the booking. We managed to get out of the area by 10pm phew! and thank goodness the kids were all still in good spirits when we got back (especially because Jah caught his first Haunter Pokémon while we were driving down the peak) :p
What a wild 18 hours we’ve had so far!
Stay tuned for more of our Hong Kong 2016 trip!