Our second day in Hong Kong was the first day of the Lunar New Year, so most things were closed. We decided to try our luck at a brunch restaurant in Mid Levels before heading up to Victoria Peak for a view of the city from above.
Our chosen brunch spot, The Flying Pan, was indeed open (it operates 24/7), and we had a great meal. Clem got a full English breakfast with coffee, and I had two eggs with avocado and sides of toast, fruit, baked beans, orange juice, and coffee. Service was quick, and the food was really good.
To get from brunch to The Peak, we hopped on a number 15 bus, which took about half an hour to get up to the terminus. I saw some dedicated people running along the steep roads; running in Hong Kong is one way to get fit quickly! The bus route ends under The Peak Galleria, so the view was only a short walk away. It was a cool but smoggy day, and there were tons of people out enjoying the day off.
We went right to the observation area and took some photos. I tried to take one with my Instax, but the smog and half-sunlight confused the flash settings, so I ended up with a really overexposed picture. Live and learn, I guess! After that we went into the Galleria and found a bakery selling fresh egg tarts; we picked up a couple and went back outside to eat them and toast the new lunar year. From there we had a quick walk around The Peak Tower, and eventually sat down for a cup of coffee at Pacific Coffee, a local coffee shop chain. Coffee was expensive but serving sizes were large, compared to coffee shops in Tokyo where small coffees are still at least ¥500 (about $5 CAD).
After re-caffeinating (and almost having my camera taken by some small, badly behaved children) we headed back outside and joined the queue for the tram. Most people queue for the tram at the bottom of the mountain and lines can be hours long, so we skipped that step and took the bus instead, but decided we did want to take the tram down. We only had to wait about 25 minutes before we were loaded on, and I was able to move quickly to score a window seat. There was not much of a price difference between taking the bus and the tram one way each compared to a round trip on the tram; the bus is $9.80 HKD (roughly $1.50 CAD) and under, depending where you board, whereas the tram is $71 HKD one way and $83 HKD round trip (roughly $11 and $12.85 CAD, respectively). However, we only needed to wait a few minutes for the bus to take us up, instead of the hours people were waiting for the tram.
The tram terminus is in Mid Levels, so we wandered the area (and its outdoor escalators!) looking for a lunch place. There are lots of restaurants offering a variety of cuisines, but a chunk of them were closed for the holiday. Eventually we decided on Cali-Mex, a chain restaurant serving, you guessed it, Mexican food. Good, inexpensive Mexican food is hard to come by in Tokyo, so I savoured my quesadilla. This place is technically fast food, but everything tasted really fresh.
From the Mid Levels we went right to Kowloon City to meet up with Vanessa one last time before she flew back to Toronto. She took us to a tiny hole in the wall restaurant for late afternoon milk tea and Hong Kong-style French toast, and then showed us around the neighbourhood. We got some Tsingtao beers at a corner 7-Eleven and headed to Kowloon Tsai Park to hang out. The park has a lot of athletic amenities, and I would definitely work out there if I were to spend more time in Hong Kong.
As the sun went down we said goodbye to Vanessa and headed back to TST, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Chinese New Year parade that was passing right by where we were staying. Unfortunately the area was packed (road-side construction didn't help), so we eventually ended up in a restaurant, munching on sweet and sour pork and fried rice, watching the parade on TV - which I actually preferred.
After another full day we headed back to the hostel for an early night.
PS: Arrival in HK, Day 1