Friday, March 09, 2007

The Peak: a walk with a view

While Hong Kong is definitely an urban scape, there is a surprising amount of greenery. Most of the south side of Hong Kong Island (where we live) for one. And the Peak for another. For the last couple Saturdays, we have made it en masse - and most recently with an old friend from home- up to the Peak for our allotment of run around outdoor with spectacular view time. The Peak is a neighborhood of Hong Kong in part but is actually Victoria Peak, some 550 meters above sea level. In the 19th century, the Peak served as a natural signpost for sailors and then as a privileged neighborhood for early residents. In fact from 1904-1947, only expatriates were allowed to reside on the Peak. While all this is far past, the Peak definitely retains a colonial feel.

While the walk and residential area retain a stately feel, there is a mall up on the Peak, which has no feel except the commerical. To its credit the mall does have a great playground, a Burger King with a view and now a Starbucks, which helps for all those nights when the kids don’t sleep well. There is also a historic Tram, opened way back in 1888, which takes passengers up to the Peak from Central, Hong Kong’s downtown. (Actually, the tram’s Central station is very near Phil’s office which makes mid-day Peak visits possible too). Prior to the tram, folks got up to the Peak on their own power or carried in sedan cars hoisted by laborers. There are a couple pictures of the old sedan chairs around up there and even Adam and Roycie, whose grasp of history is tenuous, thought that looked pretty "old-fashioned."

Once past all the new commercial venues, we usually start walking on Luggard Road, which is a road/walking path that takes you around the top of Victoria Peak, with great views and tons of lush vegetation. There are Chinese pine trees and flowering hibiscus up there but most stunning are the Indian rubber trees and one that spans the path in particular. The rubber trees were imported as shade trees and never used for commercial purposes here. The one on the path has long- 20 or 30 feet long- aerial roots that are so impressive that the term "aerial roots" is now a part of all our kids’ vocabularies.

The walk takes you past residential homes with views of Victoria Harbor (and to Kowloon, the New Territories and China if it is clear) on one side of the Peak and views out to of Lamma Island on the other side of the Peak. Since Tori’s kindergarten class is studying architecture and the Hong Kong skyline in particular, she can look down into Central and name the buildings for us. It is a sure sign that she is growing up and becoming accustomed to Hong Kong living now that she calls the buildings by their actual names. One building, actually Hong Kong’s tallest at 460 meters, has long been called the Biter Building, as it appears to have teeth on its very top, by our family. When Tori first called it properly the IFC (International Finance Center) Building, I have to admit that I did not know what she was talking about.


Post a Comment

<< Home