As the rest of our group retired to rest for the night, after a hectic day of travel, I decided to get out by myself kind of “late-ish”in the evening, and scout out Hong Kong island. I wasn’t really able to go around much of the island on our first trip to Hong Kong two years ago. We went to the Peak, walked up and down Garden Road to the Peak Tram, and rode the tour bus to Aberdeen, but that’s about it, but This time around, I wanted to see more of the it. From our billet at Tsim Sha Tsui, I decided to take to the closest point on the island via a short hop on the MTR to Central, Hong Kong’s financial district.
Going around in a foreign city alone late at night? Sounds crazy, yes, but Hong Kong felt reasonably safe to do so. Personally, I think walking down the side streets of London alone at 9pm raised more goosebumps on my skin than doing so in Hong Kong at 11 in the evening. Not that you can leave your passport and your common sense at the hotel room of course – no place in the world is safe enough for the absent minded, especially at night. However, walking down even the less “lively” streets of Hong Kong did not leave me with that feeling of being on the tip of your toes. Somehow the feeling was light as I was walking around – not carefree of course, but I didn’t get any “caution” bells ringing in my head. And this is what I really like about Hong Kong…there’s just something about the place that makes me very comfortable. There are places like Singapore which are smaller, but then I really can’t totally orient myself with directions there, and would constantly need to peek at a map – this despite the fact that I’ve been to Singapore more often. But in Hong Kong, I feel like I always know where I am. Maybe I lived there in my past life…who knows.
Lan Kwai Fong
Alighting from the MTR’s Central station, I took a path along d’Aguilar street, which led me to an area called Lan Kwai Fong. The name frequently comes up when searching for places to go to in HK, described mainly as a nightlife and dining destination. I really had nothing to see there, except to satisfy my curiousity. What I found was a hang-out spot filled with expats and the white-collared crowd in suits. I guess it’s the place to grab a beer after a hard day’s work at the nearby financial district. This isn’t really a spot though if you wanted to see Hong Kong at its best, as it just looks like any other hang-out spot on any major city with significant business activity.
SoHo and the Mid-Levels Escalator
Now this is the one that I wanted to see. A very long series of walkways and outdoor escalators, Hong Kong’s Mid-levels Escalator was built to ease the travel time between the residential areas at the mid-levels of Victoria Peak, and the financial district at Central below it, and it has become a landmark of sorts. As I made an exit from Lan Kwai Fong, it took a turn at Wellington Street all the way to the escalator, and then made my way up. I went as far as an area called SoHo (South of Hollywood Road), another trendy nightlife district which the escalator cuts through. Compared to Lan Kwai Fong which feels more rough and masculine (you see pubs there where people would most likely talk about football and rugby and such things over drinks), SoHo feels a bit more classy and feminine, with wine bars and such.
The Towers of the Central District
I reversed course as soon as I reached SoHo, and started heading down the Mid-Levels Escalator all the way to the heart of Hong Kong’s financial district at Connaught Road. Like most business districts around the world, it was very quiet at night, and I came across just a handful of people walking. Still the whole place was very brightly lit, giving a sense of security even deep in the night, and the tall skyscrapers of Hong Kong looked simply awesome from this view.
My excursion just took over an hour of that cool and pleasant spring evening, after which I made my back to MTR Central, with M83’s “Midnight City” playing in my head, and called it a night.
* Photos taken on April 2013 using an Olympus EPM-2 with M. Zuiko 14-42mm IIR.