If anyone ever asks me “What’s the best way to explore any new city?” my instant answer is “On foot”. Walking around any new city helps you get acquainted with it in a manner that no guide-book, guided tour or a tour guide can ever do. When you ditch those tours and guides and just walk around by yourself, the city will open up more to you, show you its hidden gems and help you discover some beautiful lanes / sights that will make your trip even more memorable.
During my recent trip to Hong Kong on one of the evenings after work, I decided to start walking from Wan Chai and head towards Kowloon to explore these two parts on foot and the (required) ferry.
I started my walking tour from the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre popularly known as HKCEC. This is an exhibition and convention centre, made entirely of glass and a huge aluminium roof sculpted to supposedly resemble a seabird in flight (I really tried to imagine it but just couldn’t see the connection). It is a massive building and even when you are standing at the farthest point available on land, you can’t capture this building in one frame. Hence the best view of this landmark building is from a ferry (when you can see it in entirety).
Right outside the HKCEC is the Golden Bauhinia Square where you see the a large gilded flower sculpture of a Bauhinia. The Bauhinia is the emblem of Hong Kong and this sculpture (which lends its name to the square) was a gift from China’s Central Government to mark the 1997 Handover (when Hong Kong territory was returned to China by Great Britain). A flag-raising ceremony is held here every day at 7.45am, where the Hong Kong police officers (in their ceremonial uniform) play the national anthem. I didn’t see this as I visited this square at night.
Post this, I walked up a bridge which was heading towards the ferry station to board a ferry heading towards Kowloon. For a ticket of as low as HK$2.5, which includes not only transportation across the beautiful Victoria Harbor, but also the most amazing views of the Hong Kong Central and Kowloon skylines. I literally went crazy clicking pictures of both sides of these islands and enjoying the lovely breeze blowing through my hair. I have posted all pictures of the views at Hong Kong Skyline.
Once you get off the ferry, you turn towards your right and you are at the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade. This is one long promenade that starts at the Clock Tower, extends past the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Hong Kong Space Museum, Hong Kong museum of Art and the Avenue of Stars. A walk along this entire promenade is a must for some of the most gorgeous views of the Hong Kong skyline and the “Symphony of Lights” show. I was there just after the Chinese New Year celebrations and hence had a chance to see some of the decorations and exhibits that were still there along the promenade.
Symphony of Lights Show is a synchronized laser and light show from numerous buildings along the Hong Kong and Kowloon shorelines. This show happens every night at 8pm for about 15 minutes and the multi colored dancing lights are accompanied by music and at time fire works. I had reached the promenade on time for the show and climbed up a few stairs and sat on one of the parapets to enjoy this show. I haven’t seen any such shows in the past and quite enjoyed this display especially the synchronization of the act. Post the show too I just sat there for a long time looking at the beautiful skyline, seeing ships go by and relaxing with the sounds of water. All I missed then was a nice strong cup of coffee.
After a long time I decided to move and check out the Avenue of the stars. This is a must visit for all movie buffs as it has a large bronze statue of Bruce Lee, hand prints of stars, movie memorabilia etc. But I wasn’t very interested in this and hence walked on back towards the clock tower.
At the start of the promenade is the iconic Clock Tower, the sole remnant of the Kowloon station of the Kowloon Canton railway. It is a beautiful building of red bricks and granite on the outside and inside you can see the wooden staircase and a large bell from the windows. Unfortunately I couldn’t go in as it was closed. 😦
Post this I walked up ahead and saw the huge malls of Tsim Sha Tsui and there were beautiful decorations around it.
Post walking around here aimlessly for a bit I decided to take a metro and visit the Ladies Night Market in MongKok. But that’s a topic for a separate post 🙂