Sunday, October 28, 2007

Tram Party!

Contrary to many of my “in Central with the kids” moments, we just had the best time down there. We were invited by friends to tour Central via an antique tram they rented out for a couple of hours. I am not sure what I thought of this event prior to going but knew anything based around transportation would be a hit for the kids. And it was. Sitting on top of a double decker tram and looking out at the congested markets and the immense brightly lit buildings proved to be the best way for all of us to experience Central. We saw it all and we heard it all but were never lost in the crowds.

Hong Kong is one of only three places in the world (others being Blackpool England and Alexandria Egypt) that operate double decker trams. Hong Kong wanted to go electric way back in 1881 but this was vetoed. Finally they got their trams running in 1904, after the passage of the 1902 Tramway Ordinance. The tram was set up to run around Hong Kong Island, along the northern coast of the island. Until 1967, all tram tickets were imported from England.

Today, 240,000 commuters still use the trams. Tram fares are inexpensive at $2 Hong Kong dollars (25 cents) for an adult. Each tram holds 15 people and waits between trams are only about a minute during peak hours. The tram route remains about the same as a century ago, running along the north side of the island from the Whitty Street Depot to Kennedy Town to Shau Kei Wan to Western Market to Causeway Bay and looping back around Happy Valley. Happy Valley is well known for its large racetrack which holds races on Wednesday nights. Being a Wednesday night, the crowds were there and the lights on. My kids did not notice any of that but instead said “Mom, look at all that grass!”

Up top our antique tram, we waved at the walkers and generally felt like we were at the top of the world. We ate pizza and played a fun tram bingo game our friends devised for the kids. I watched amazed as my kids quickly identified very Hong Kong things like subway signs, post office boxes (green here and not very postal looking), which color cab goes to which island and major buildings. The only one who had a problem was me. I kept referring to the tram as the trolley, based in part on the fact that we were frequent visitors to the National Trolley Museum in Silver Spring Maryland. Tori looked at me a bit embarrassed and said that they are called trams here, “trolleys are so long ago!” As we partied on the tram in Central well after kids’ bedtime, it did seem our more staid trolley museum visits a year ago were ancient history.


Post a Comment

<< Home