Grassy Lawn near Peak and PavilionView All Sizes
JOURNAL : August 29, 2012
|Series||Finding Victoria Peak Garden|
If visiting Hong Kong it is essential to take a trip up to Victoria Peak, or simply The Peak. Although you can walk up the steep Old Peak Road through the tropical forest, the fastest and most popular way is to take the tram to the top.
Old Peak Road from Sky Terrace 428View All Sizes
Findlay Path, Gazebo and Peak TowerView All Sizes
The Peak TowerView All Sizes
Where Garden Road meets Lower Albert Road is the Peak Tram Lower Terminus station. The tram rides up and down the hill from 7am to midnight every day, even public holidays. Tickets are fairly cheap, and it is recommended to get the bundle which includes the Sky Terrace 428, which is the 360° viewing platform where the classic shot of Hong Kong is taken.
Peak Tower EscalatorsView All Sizes
If you're just heading to the Galleria Mall or Victoria Gardens and don't need the extra elevation, you can walk over to a decorative gazebo on Findlay Path for a nice view of Central Hong Kong. However, the Peak Tower experience is pretty awesome. Shops, restaurants and other tourist facilities abound throughout its numerous floors, and it has an excellent view of Central and Kowloon, the adjacent Galleria, the general layout of the Peak, as well as the southern shores of the island. Check it out!
Pok Fu Lam ReservoirView All Sizes
From the Tower, stroll down Findlay Path and note the intersection with Barker Road where it becomes Plantation Road. Barker crosses under the tram tacks near another tram station on the way down and intersects with Old Peak Road. This is a great way to take the scenic walk down into the city.
Adjacent to the Peak Tower is the Galleria, another destination for the tourist I suppose. I ventured around but wasn't particularly interested in it. Between the Peak Tower and the Galleria the usual restaurants, souvenir stores and high-end stores can be found, but if you're gonna shop 'til you drop you should visit Central Mall down in the city. Since the surrounding area is chock-full of condos, apartments and lavish homes, perhaps for residents of the Peak this is a convenient shopping destination.
Around one corner I noticed this ridiculous "Rest Area for Pets" occupying a few square feet in the shopping complex. It implies that pets cannot rest elsewhere, and its stone floor doesn't welcome an animal relieving itself. If bringing pets up to the Peak, Victoria Gardens is one of the few public parks that allows animals, so just head on up there.
Mansions near GalleriaView All Sizes
Until the mid 19th centrury the peak was a mountainous wilderness. In the late 1840s the Colonial Surgeon Dr. William Morrison suggested that Victoria Peak be developed as a residential area to combat the fever, dysentery and rheumatism pervading the town below, but this was not acted upon until a decade late when the military decided to built a sanitarium for troops. Facilities like a path leading to the peak and a signal station were constructed. The sanitarium backfired as the troops seemed to get worse, and the idea was abandoned.
By the mid-1860s the colonial governors had become interested in building a summer house to escape the hot season, since the 1,811-foot Peak was noted as being 14°F cooler than at sea level. The sanitarium was purchased and rebuilt and destroyed by typhoons several times. Between 1870 and 1946 two incarnations of Mountain Lodge existed in that spot, with the second noted by local media as being the most handsome and imposing architecture on the Peak.
Grassy Lawn near Peak and PavilionView All Sizes
During this time other wealthy merchants had begun to build villas in the area. Commercial operation of the Peak Tram began on May 30th, 1888 with 600 passengers taking the brief trip up the mountain on the first day, and 150,000 the first year. Public interest then exploded and more facilities were constructed.
Old Tram next to Galleria MallView All Sizes
Beautiful Tree on Barker RoadView All Sizes
Des Voeux Rd, Central Hong KongView All Sizes
Grassy Lawn near Gate LodgeView All Sizes
Besides the view, another excellent reason to ascend the Peak is to explore Victoria Peak Garden.
One of the things I love about Hong Kong is the large proportion of wild tropical forest within close proximity to the futuristic skyscrapers. To step onto the Peak is to enter a region where nature is the thriving, driving factor. Neat little roads, manicured gardens, and ever increasing development encroach upon the textured green land. While the masses of people circulate within the malls around the tram's upper terminus, peace and quiet can be found only a short walk away.
Victoria Peak GardenView All Sizes
Three roads head west away from the Sky Terrace 428 and the Peak Galleria. For a good time take any of them. Harlech and Lugard Roads make a big loop around the peak and are a great way to see the city, while Mt Austin Road is the middle way that begins ascending towards the peak immediately.
After a brief walk, Mt Austin Road turns to the right and passes Mount Austin Road Playground, which is a nice little park for relaxing on the way. This day was hot and muggy and I stood in the sprinklers and got soaked to cool down for the remaining trek.
Guardian Lion StatueView All Sizes
Butterfly in Victoria Peak GardenView All Sizes
Telecommunications Towers on the PeakView All Sizes
On a hot day the uphill walk to Victoria Peak Gardens can be exhausting, although most of the way is quite shady. Along the way visit the old Gate Lodge, done in a Renaissance architectural style, and now denoted an official monument. It is one of the few buildings left from the early era of development.
This classic Chinese lion statue is a common sight all across China, and throughout Asia for that matter. Almost always there is a pair on either side of an entrance. One is female holding a cub under her left paw for protection. The other is male holding the ball of power under his right paw. This one stands along one side of the pavilion.
A stone path leads throughout the upper peak area. It offers some nice views of the area, and connects several grassy lawns before arriving back at the site of the former Mountain Lodge. A pavilion now stands at the location.
Victoria Peak Garden is home to quite a few butterflies, like this striking black and blues species.
Unfortunately, the actual peak is not open to the public, since it hosts a group of telecommunications towers. But its view would be only marginally better than all the amazing views from walking about in the area.
After a day of exploring the peak I was quite tired and headed down in the most expedient way. But after the short trip which dropped me into the midst of the city again, I was quite invigorated for more. It was late afternoon so I headed out to Queen's Pier to catch the Star Ferry and see the Symphony of Lights.
About this day
August 29, 2012
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