A Short Stroll Through Hong Kong Park

Hong Kong is a city known for crowded housing, skyscrapers, and just all around big city life. And it's true that the city is packed with people. The Kowloon area in particular doesn't have many breaks between buildings that aren't streets. But downtown Hong Kong is right up against a mountain, so it doesn't take long before someone headed away from the water starts going uphill.
I'm sure the hills had at least some impact on the rate of early development on this side of town, and possibly accounted for the more ready availability of public and private parks.
 Hong Kong Park is only about 25 years old, opening in 1991. It's located on the site of a garrison, and some historic buildings remain. I didn't have a lot of time set aside for the park, so I didn't search out the old architecture, nor did I get a good look at the entire park.
 The park is located on the side of the mountain, and I started at its lower end where visitors can see a nice artificial lake.
 It's highly possible the structure at the back of the pond is historic. But I don't know. There is a restaurant back there, somewhere. On the hill behind it is an conservatory that serves as a botanical garden. Entrance to the conservatory is free; pictures of the plants follow:

 The building is split into dry desert plant and wet tropical plant environments.
 Nearby, Olympic Square is an outdoor auditorium of sorts that can host smaller concerts and shows.
 During my visit, it was being used by a couple women for exercise.
Further up the hill is a tai chi garden with some memorial busts; again this area is a bit more complex than I was able to explore, but it does have a number of courtyards.
 Next to the tai chi garden is a vantage point. A total of 105 steps will take you up the 30 meters to the top, from which you can see the entire park and downtown. The picture at the top of this post was taken from the top.

I spent around an hour here, but even then I don't feel like I got a good idea of all it has to offer. It's a peaceful, adult-centered park, There is a children's playground, too. I'll definitely have to go back to the park again if and when I am able to return to Hong Kong.

The park itself is open 6:00-23:00, with facilities having shorter hours. The conservatory and aviary are open 9:00-17:00, while the restaurant is open 11:00-22:30. You can visit the park's website here.

Hong Kong: The Peak Tram

 The Peak Tram began operation in 1888, carrying riders from downtown to the top of Victoria Peak. The trip is less than one mile each way, but has a height differential of 368 meters, or about a third of a mile up. The photo above is of Garden Road Station.
There are six stations in all, four along the route plus the two termini. At Garden Road Station, at the bottom of the hill, the waiting platform area has some old equipment on display.
 While none of the original cars exist from the early generations of tram vehicles, a replica of the first is on display.
 There are also cases with additional displays.
 The current cars are larger than the originals, but are designed to be reminiscent of the original system.
 The station at the peak is appropriately called The Peak, and there's an entire brand centered around the transportation system. Inside this building are shops and restaurants.
 Across the plaza, additional dining and shopping options are available. There's a convenience store over there as well.
 A fourth generation tram car is on display at the top, and it looks like it's possible to go inside at times. I arrived quite early and nothing was really open in the area.
 The weather in Hong Kong was foggy for most of my stay, so this is about the best you'll get of downtown.
 It's not that far away, but Kowloon is barely visible across the harbor.
 There really isn't that much to do at the top, especially early in the day, and with foggy weather there isn't much to see either. But you can walk up to the very top. Along the way, I came across a small park with some nice flowers and trees, called Mount Austin Road Playground.

 Instead of going to the park at the peak of Victoria Peak, I took a wrong turn. The stairs on the left were an okay shortcut, but I continued following the stairs on the right which led me to a private residence.
 This isn't that residence. This is a nice wall though outside one of the beautiful houses on the hill. I didn't make it to the peak, but given the weather Victoria Peak will be better visited on another trip.
 Back near the Peak tram station, there's a small overlook.
An hour of hiking wasn't long enough to clear the haze.
 These shots are across the harbor and I had to do a bit of processing to make them as clear as you see now.
The tram operates from 7 A.M. to midnight. Round trip tickets are HK$40 (about $5). Departures occur about once every 10-15 minutes.

Strolling Through Downtown Hong Kong

Last November, I went out to Hong Kong and Singapore for about three days each for the "usual" sightseeing and roller coasters. My flight landed early at Hong Kong's airport, and I was on the first train into the city itself. The airport line drops you off in a fairly confusing location, though I'm sure experienced travelers and locals will disagree with me.

Getting from Hong Kong Station to the Central-Mid-Level Escalators is probably pretty straightforward, but I was hoping to get closer to Admiralty Station to start my walking tour of the downtown area. That was my real mistake - there are pedestrian overpasses and such in place to get to the core area, but I started walking in an area north of the major highway which doesn't really see pedestrians. After a bit of finagling, I made it through to the good stuff.
 I did get a good glimpse of this large Ferris wheel being installed. It's open now, so this entire area will be completely different from my experience. But I didn't really do anything here - you can see the vast nothingness between the city and the waterfront (just left of this photo) in this area.
 The Hong Kong of high-rises is really a thin line along the shore, with water in front and the mountains in back. But they're lined up dramatically when viewed from across the harbor or on the ferry.
 Their location and arrangement make them all very visible.
 When I was in Hong Kong, the Occupy protests were in full force. I saw the most involvement at the Kowloon camp, but an entire major road was closed here as a result of the camps.
 This is The Cenotaph and Statue Square. The Cenotaph is a war memorial originally built in 1920 for the First World War, but was later amended to include World War II.
 The building in the left photo is the Hutchinson House, and on the right is the Bank of China Building - not the Bank of China Tower, which is a newer structure.
 This plaza, I would later discover, is used as a staging area for distributing the many newspapers that are freely handed out around town. I just thought there were lots of uncaring people who tossed lots of trash around. Though there was some of that, too.
 Here's the Bank of China Tower, with its distinctive antenna-style top. There's an observation deck on the 43rd floor.
 There's a nice park downtown, which I'll visit in a future post. Cheung Kong Park is a separate private park nearby with a small pond.
 And here is the view from the bridge to Hong Kong Park - there is a lot of traffic in Hong Kong but many accommodations have been made for pedestrians.
Finally, this is the Lippo Centre, formerly the Bond Centre. There is more coming from downtown Hong Kong in a future post.