Many large cities have skyscrapers that offer a view from the top. Hong Kong, as it so often does, takes a slightly different route and gives visitors Victoria Peak.
At 552m (1,810 feet) the Peak is higher than any existing skyscraper. (The Freedom Tower in New York, designed to replace the destroyed Twin Towers, will be 1,776 feet high including the spire. If completed on schedule, it will – for a while – be the world’s tallest building.)
From that height, visitors can look down on the lush, green mountainside and around at some of the $10 million homes that get to enjoy the view every day. Looking out, tourists can see Victoria Harbor – one of the world’s most active ports.
The mountainside is alive with near-tropical vegetation thanks to the hot, humid summers and the cooling sea breezes of the East China Sea at Hong Kong. Sharp eyes will occasionally pick out some of the many animal residents of the area, as well.
Though none offer tours, some angles offer a glimpse of homes that show how Hong Kong’s wealthiest residents live. America isn’t the only land that offers the resourceful and the determined a road to riches. Many homeowners here are entrepreneurs who made their fortunes in Hong Kong after starting out as poor residents of Canton and other parts of mainland China.
Looking down, you can get an expansive view of the ancient harbor and the ultra-modern city. Victoria Harbor is one of the deepest in the world, only one of the many natural attributes that has been used to good advantage by Hong Kong’s enterprising businessmen.
The port is always buzzing with the arrival and departure of ships that carry goods and passengers to and from China to every port on the globe. Ships of every national registry, both cargo and cruise, make it to Hong Kong regularly.
Near where the ships dock, a pair of binoculars will help you get a better look at some of the many boat families that still populate Hong Kong’s wharves. Here, as they have for over 200 years, fishermen and their families ply their trade in some of the toughest circumstances found anywhere.
But to see all this, first you have to get there. Visitors have several choices, including bus and tram.
The bus is decidedly less crowded, and you can still get a pretty good view as the winding road to the top circles around the mountain. This route has the added ‘benefit’ that you won’t feel the need for a roller coaster ride again anytime soon.
Most, for good reason, take the tram up. This funicular railway is among the world’s steepest and most scenic rides in Asia. Though the term may be unfamiliar, almost everyone has seen one in person or at the movies. It’s a long, suspended-cable system in which cabs go up and down the mountain in tandem. The weight of one cab coming down helps pull the one going up.
Lines can be long so be prepared. But the wait is well worth it, as you can get another spectacular view of the harbor looking down and of the mountain looking up. This is one ride you will definitely want to take at least twice – once during the day, and again at night.
“Hong Kong Skyline From Victoria Peak” by Ed Coyle Photography