December 27, 2018

24 Hours in Hong Kong

A day in Hong Kong

John Newton has a very busy day on his way back from Europe!

It's a simple 'ding ding' - but when there are more than 160 of them it adds to the cacophony of noise along the tramways of Hong Kong Island.

Affectionately called 'ding ding' by locals, mimicking the sound of a bell, the city's 114-year-old trams shake, rattle and roll their way past some of the island's skyscraper landmarks.

But one old double-deck tram in particular stands out from the rest. It's the one that runs on the 'Tramoramic' tour between Causeway Bay and Sheung Wan's Western Market – or vice versa.

As part of a three-pronged attack on completing three value-for-money attractions in a day – morning, afternoon and evening - I jumped aboard the 1920s-style open top tram for an ear-piercing slow (very) journey from the Causeway Bay Terminus to the Western Market Terminus via a branch circulating Happy Valley racecourse and through bustling streets filled with ultra-modern cityscapes, as well as colourful history and modern culture.

The one-hour tour, with free WiFi and recorded commentary with authentic tales of local life and tram history in eight languages, costs HKD$95 adults and HKD$65 children.

And to make it even more worthwhile, you get a two-day ticket for unlimited access on Hong Kong Tramways' network.

It was time to move on to transport that runs faster (not by much in Hong Kong's traffic jams), so I headed for the hop on/ hop off Big Bus, which operates daily on three routes (red, blue and green).

I opted for the green route from the Central Ferry Pier 7 – mainly because the price included a trip on the 130-year-old iconic Peak Tram without having to queue. And the wait at times can be long. Very long.

Back downtown from the heady heights of the Peak, the Big Bus joins the heavy traffic to Ocean Park, then along a winding coastal road to upmarket Repulse Bay, where there are opulent homes overlooking the sea – and even a Ferrari dealership on the waterfront.

Next stop is Stanley, where I hopped off to grab a bargain or two at the renowned market by the South China Sea.

Stanley has changed dramatically over the past decade with the market losing many of its bargain clothing stalls and the place looking somewhat tacky. But the choice of al fresco dining options along the main street on the promenade more than made up for the disappointing market.

Big Bus ticket costs range from HKD$480 for a one-day ticket that also includes a trip on the Star Ferry. A two-day de-luxe ticket – costing HKD650 – also includes a one-hour tour on Victoria Harbour and Kowloon nightlife tour.

No first-time visit to Hong Kong is complete without a signature seafood feast at the giant Jumbo Kingdom floating restaurant in Aberdeen, the last stop of the Big Bus green route.

Located at the Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter, there's a free shuttle ferry to Jumbo Kingdom from Aberdeen Promenade Pier and Wong Chuk Hang Shum Wan Pier.

Now in its 42nd year, Jumbo Kingdom is best known for its fresh seafood (customers can select what they want from a huge fish tank), traditional Cantonese cuisine and dim sum. The restaurant's interior and exterior were built following the design of the royal court of Ming Dynasty. It took four years to complete at a cost of HKD$30 million.

Over the years, Jumbo Kingdom has been the film set for many movie blockbusters.

*For more information on the three tours go to:


Hong Kong people call the tramway the 'ding ding' in reference to the double bell used by the trams to warn pedestrians of their approach.

John and Pat were guests of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, Hong Kong Tramways, Big Bus Tours and Jumbo Kingdom.

Words: John Newton.

Images: as supplied

Feature supplied by: www.wtfmedia.com.au

Peter Pinney - the original vagabond travel writer

Peter Pinney
Peter Pinney has always had a love of adventure. In fact, travel in new places, preferably strange places, is his chief interest and his principal method of enjoying life. As a boy in Sydney, he gave early signs of his unconventional ways by hanging by his heels from the Harbour Bridge to win a small bet. His subsequent adventures have fulfilled that early promise. During World War II he was a member of an independent company of the A.I.F. in New Guinea, and since the war he has been principally a traveller, frequently describing himself for visa purposes as a student of folklore. He likes to travel almost penniless, feeling that it is the only way of meeting the ordinary people of the countries through which he is passing.

He has had a wide variety of occupations, including that of opal-digger, wharf-labourer, cameraman, bicycle-assembler, and stage-hand.

PETER PINNEY's latest record of his travels is as lively, unconventional; and amusing as ever. Still the traveller without visas and without baggage, and usually without money, he wanders across Africa from Mozambique to the Sahara-sometimes alone, sometimes with raffish companions picked up on the way, but mostly with Anna, the gay and resourceful Dutch girl who was his companion in earlier adventures.

By river and road, by swamp and jungle, in hot and thronging towns and gaudy bazaars, through Southern Rhodesia, Barotseland, Angola, Nigeria, and the Gold and Ivory Coasts he makes his way, meeting missionaries and magicians, lepers and kings, lions and crocodiles. At one time he is assembling bicycles in Mozambique to carn money to bail his current companion, "Chickenthief", out of jail; at another he is attending a tribal council meeting in Barotseland; at another he is hurtling with forty Africans in a mammy-wagon-variously defined as a native bus or a galloping coffin-named "Special Quiet Boy" on a hair-raising ride to Kumasi, capital of the famed Ashanti kingdom.

As the popularity of Dust On My Shoes and Who Wanders Alone has shown, there is a fascination in Peter Pinney's books-the eternal fascination exercised by the true adventurer, the wanderer for whom there is always something new over the next hill.

Peter Pinney, adventurer and wanderer extraordinary, has a flair for finding the dramatic, dangerous, and unusual in experiences and people.

Dust On My Shoes finds him travelling from Greece through the countries of the Mediterranean and the Middle East, over the snow-covered mountains of Afghanistan, across the plains of India to the jungles of Assam and Burma. At times alone, at times with his companion Marchand, he takes part briefly in the Greek civil war, works in a baked-bean bar at Beirut, colours photographs in Teheran, and peddles orchids in Delhi. He scrounges lifts by every available means of transport, and when there is no transport he walks. In a succession of adventures and misadventures, he is always saved by his quick-wittedness and ingenuity.

Who Wanders Alone begins in Trieste and ends in Zanzibar. Why not? It was just as likely to have begun at Alice Springs and ended at Toledo or Saskatchewan, for this most eclectic of travellers pleases himself. Despite its title, this is anything but a lonely story, for in his wanderings Pinney meets and mixes with people of many races and different ways of life.

Sometimes the meeting is more of a collision, as in his clashes with authorities. The essential appeal of the book is that which brought Dust On My Shoes its tremendous popularity-the eternal fascination of the vagabond, the wanderer in strange lands, for whom there are always new roads and farther horizons.

Pinney died from prostate cancer on 22 October 1992 in Brisbane and was cremated.