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On Walkabout In: Central Hong Kong – Part 1

Prior Posting: Hiking On Hong Kong’s Victoria Peak

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As I mentioned before riding the Peak Tram to the top of Victoria Peak is quite possibly the most popular thing visitors to Hong Kong do. However, another must see in Hong Kong is without a doubt the downtown area of the city known simply as Central Hong Kong or just Central for short. Since my wife and I were staying in Wan Chai, getting to Central is a pretty far walk. So we decided to take the tram over to Central:

Picture from Central Hong Kong

All the Hong Kong trams are double decker and are extremely cheap to use. It costs a flat fee $2 Hong Kong dollars to use the tram which is roughly like 25 cents no matter the distance you are going. My wife and I liked sitting on the upper deck because you get a great view of the city:

Picture from Central Hong Kong

The trams are a great way to see Hong Kong on the cheap. My wife and I during our stay in Hong Kong rode the trams all over the city to see what the various neighborhoods were like:

Picture from Central Hong Kong

Seating in the trams is pretty basic and unless it is rush hour it is pretty easy to find a seat:

Picture from Central Hong Kong

For tall guys like myself I had to continuously avoid hitting my head on the ceiling of the tram because there wasn’t much clearance but for 25 cents to use the tram I really couldn’t complain about the minor inconveniences.

After about a 20 minute ride on the tram we arrived in Central Hong Kong to be welcomed by a number of tall buildings to include the tallest of them all the Two International Finance Center:

Picture from Central Hong Kong

The building is the tallest in the city at 415 meters and a taxi driver earlier during our visit told us that the locals call it the “Big Erection” which made us chuckle.

Easily the strangest building we saw was not the “Big Erection” but the Lippo Centre:

Picture from Central Hong Kong

Due to all the bulging glass on the building it is known as the “Koala Building” to locals because the bulges look like koalas hanging on a tree.

Not all the buildings in Hong Kong are flashy modern looking buildings. There are plenty of older buildings that remain in the city that integrate very well with the city’s modern skyline such as the Bank of China Building that was first constructed in 1950:

Picture from Central Hong Kong

This building was once the headquarters of the Bank China before the completion of the Bank of China Tower nearby. The building is now just used as a sub-branch of the bank. This building is no where near being one of the tallest buildings in Hong Kong today but from 1950-1966 it was in fact the tallest building in Hong Kong.

Another example of a historic building in Central Hong Kong is the Legislative Council Building:

Picture from Central Hong Kong

This building was first constructed in 1912 on reclaimed land. That is incredible considering the building is now in the middle of Central, which goes to show how much of Hong Kong island’s buildings are on reclaimed land. The building was originally built to house the Supreme Court but since 1985 has served as the home to the city’s Legislative Council. The memorial in front of the building is in honor of the people who died during World War II which saw the city occupied by the Japanese.

Hong Kong has lots of famous buildings but the Bank of China Tower in the middle of Central Hong Kong is definitely one of the most recognizable:

Picture from Central Hong Kong

Picture from Central Hong Kong

The inside of the building was quite nice and not all that busy:

Picture from Central Hong Kong

The place was decorated for the Olympics that were going on during our stay in Hong Kong.  The people in Hong Korea were quite excited about hosting the games:

Picture from Central Hong Kong

The Bank of China Tower has a special elevator that takes visitors to an observation platform to get some great views of the city. Using the elevator is free and really anyone visiting Hong Kong should check it out. From the observation platform the building that stood out more then any other was of course the “Big Erection”:

Picture from Central Hong Kong

The Bank of China Building as well as the Legislative Council Building are directly below the viewing platform:

Picture from Central Hong Kong

This picture provides a good view of how much the Bank of China Building has been out grown by all its neighboring buildings since it gave up its title as the tallest building in Hong Kong in 1966. The picture also gives some perspective of how much land has been reclaimed over the years in Hong Kong considering the Legislative Council Building was originally built on reclaimed land.

The edge of this reclaimed can be seen where the ferry boats leave from Star Ferry Pier:

Picture from Central Hong Kong

As can be seen in the picture the reclaiming of land in Hong Kong continues. It makes me wonder if one day we will see Hong Kong island connected to the mainland if so much reclamation of land continues? Across Victoria Harbor the skyline of the Kowloon peninsula could be seen:

Picture from Central Hong Kong

There were plenty of cruise boats I could see at anchor in the harbor but the boats I saw more then any other were these old looking Chinese junks cruising across the harbor:

Picture from Central Hong Kong

Some other buildings of interest that I could see from the lookout was the British Government House:

Picture from Central Hong Kong

Back during the British colonial days this is where the chief British executive of Hong Kong lived. The building was first constructed in 1855 but was remodeled during the Japanese occupation during World War II which is why the building does not currently look like neo-classical British architecture.

St. John’s Cathedral however is pure British architecture:

Picture from Central Hong Kong

This building is the oldest church in the Far East with it first being constructed in 1849. After seeing the cathedral from above we decided after exiting the observation deck that we would next head over to this historic building.

Next Posting: Central Hong Kong – Part 2

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