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Being a Tourist Guide In Your Own Home Town (HK In a Day and a Half)

I recently had the opportunity to show a couple of first time visitors around Hong Kong. They were connecting to a cruise and so had only a day and a half. Additionally, the weather was hot and extremely muggy, a condition they were not used to. What to do? What to do?

Since they were staying in Hung Hom on the Kowloon side, the first leg was easy. Take the Star Ferry to Central where we could meet up easily (I live in Central). Since I had just arrived that morning after an all-night 14 hour flight from the U.S., I set up a 2:00 PM meeting and they used the late morning and early afternoon to wander around and have a light lunch.

Star Ferry and Convention Center

I first walked them through the IFC Mall. They aren’t shoppers but the malls, whether we like it or not, are a significant part of the “Hong Kong experience.” They were interested in what a Hong Kong Super market was like so we toured City Super, which with it’s Japanese flavor and ethnically diverse product offerings is surprisingly interesting to visitors.

Next we rode the escalator up to Hollywood Road. New visitors are fascinated and often awed by the escalator. I’m still slightly in awe of it after 14 years. From there, it’s an easy stroll past the antique shops to the Man Mo Temple with its hundreds of burning incense offerings and praying visitors. It may not be fancy or famous but it is inherently intriguing.

We continued down Hollywood Road to Bird’s Nest Street. I tried and failed to explain why someone would pay US$650 for a small container of swallows’ nests. The only parallel I had was spending US$100 and up for a bowl of Shark’s Fin Soup. It is supposedly healthy and also gives the consumer status.

Our next stop was the Sheung Wan Wet Market. My guests were leery of interacting with live chickens so we passed but I still think for someone who is new to Hong Kong that visiting a wet market is worthwhile and relatively risk-free. We then entered the Western Market “tourist trap,” which, for reasons I ‘m not entirely clear about, I like to visit. We ordered Lemon Iced Teas at the German Bistro just inside the main entrance and I believe this helped revive my guests.

After the tea break we boarded the Hong Kong Tramways streetcar on our way to Exchange Square. The Tram is also one of those inexpensive (HK$2.00), historically interesting, fun things to do. I sometimes take visitors all across Hong Kong Island on the Shaukeiwan Tram. We got off at Exchange Square to catch the #15 bus to Victoria Peak. Many tourists believe the Peak Tram is a must-do activity. I don’t. It’s expensive, crowded and offers very poor views of the Island. It’s far better to take the #15 bus (HK$9.60), sit in the front row on the upper deck and enjoy the views and thrills of negotiating the narrow roads up to the Peak.

(To be continued tomorrow)