Covered or mentioned in this post:
Tai O, MTR train system, PDF train map, train stations, Tung Chung, Cable car, Big Buddha and local markets.
Day 2 in Hong Kong had Gina planning to take a ferry to a place called Tai O, which is optimistically also sometimes known as “The Venice of Hong Kong”. If there’s anyone from Tai O reading this I don’t mean to offend but it is actually supposed to be a bit of a dump and with the dried fish a smelly one too. The main point of going to Tai O, apart from the ferry ride over, is that from here you can get a boat to meet the pink dolphins – more information HERE. However we arrived at the terminal just after the last ferry had left. Timetable below if you ever find yourself replicating this trip:
Plan B involved a trip into the city and then back out on the Tung Chung train line to Tung Chung itself and the cable car ride to the Big Buddha sitting in the hills behind Hong Kong.
Hong Kong has a wonderfully efficient train system much of it running underground beneath the city. You never have to wait more than three minutes for a train to come along. They are modern, spotless, fast, air conditioned and cheap – using your Octopus card of course. The MTR system is shown in this diagram and I have added a PDF file that you can download click here: MTR train system. If going to Hong Kong make sure you have one in your pocket. You will live by it.
To find a MTR station outside in the street the sign you are looking for is this one – the red cymbal at the top:
Mostly they aren’t as obvious as this one. See if you can spot them in this photo:
You will note in the MTR diagram three photos back that each train line is shown in a different colour. The signage in the train stations, which are in Chinese and English, match these colours as do the signage inside the carriages.
Hard to miss Tung Chung as the train stops there, as you can see from the display above.
Just a quick tip you might find helpful about a service available from Hong Kong Station – the sign I showed you earlier to show you the MTR logo or Kowloon Station. Don’t mix Hong Kong Station with Central station, which doesn’t provide this service. If you go to either of these stations and purchase an airport express train ticket you can book your bags in and leave them there and go shopping. Your bags are delivered to the airport and in theory will be on your flight without any further effort by you. It seems to work as you can read HERE.
Hong Kong stations are, like their trains, modern, super clean and seem to run extremely efficiently. Evidently one time a train ran four minutes late and it was front page news the next day. The stations are also an opportunity to shop and some of them offer very upmarket and beautifully presented outlets to browse.
The walkways within the station are wide to cope with peak hour and you never feel like the bottom end of the travelling market:
Finally on the subject of trains you will find the access to the train to be different from Australia. Here there are glass barriers between platform and track/train.
You line up either side of the doors marked by the arrows you see here, leaving the centre exit free for passengers getting out. Once the train arrives the train doors align with the platform doors, both open and you get this:
OK, now you that you know everything you need to about Hong Kong trains we will finally continue with the topic as advertised.
Arriving at Tung Chung station head out the main entrance and you currently meet a heap of elephants.
They are individually decorated by artists and supported by corporations as part of an elephant conservation promotion. More information HERE.
Walking across the square and around the corner – signposted – you will find the entrance to the cable car to Big Buddha. The cost for a ticket is HK$150 return or about A$20.00. A glass floored version costs HK$180. It is about a 25 minute ride to the top and well worth doing, even if just for the trip and nothing else.
At the top of the mountain you enter a rather tacky tourist village with over-priced merchandise for those people desperate to take a momento home. Starbuck for those requiring a coffee fix.
Best to walk through the village and down this long walkway at the back.
It’s a five minute walk to arrive at the base and getting to meet Buddha requires some effort as you can see below. I believe it’s the same in real life.
Cabling over we headed back into the city for a very late lunch at a place Gina recommended. This was a small Chinese local eating place situated in a street market overlooked by towering buildings. Good price and simple but tasty Chinese food. Gaun was able to have rice, which she enjoyed. Small differences make a trip interesting. Here they serve free hot water. In Thailand most places will offer you water with ice either free or at extra cost. Funnily it is the small eating places where you pay $1.30 for a main course which most often have a jug of water on the table and an ice bucket in the corner at no extra cost.
Not sure Dragon Ball is quite the right name for a Thai massage however it maybe a better choice than this place in the girlie street of Chiang Rai:
Tourist activity over for the day we headed home for a well earned shower and cold drink or two.
Day 2 over with Disneyland planned for the next day. Bring it on.
Thanks for reading.