Now that I’m working for the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, my daily routine has changed big time. Having worked as a consultant for the past 15 years, mostly from my home office, it is quite an adjustment now to suit-up every day, commute 45 to 60 minutes each way and still get everyday, real-life things done. There is virtually no time left at the end of a workday for anything personal, or personally productive (like blogging).
Nevertheless, I really enjoy my morning commute and I think it’s pretty cool. Here it is in pictures. These were taken on a gray, hazy day, but you’ll get the idea.
This is the shuttle bus that runs from our apartment complex at the top of the hill down into Central. It drops people off at three different stops and picks up at two of them. It is comfortable and convenient, running about every 15 minutes. The cost is about USD$3. The writing on the wall above the bus says something about wishing good luck for the new year (the Chinese New Year is in a week from now).
Because so much of HK is built into the mountain, the roads on the island are narrow and winding with many hair-pin turns. Nevertheless, full-size coach buses like ours go barreling up and down these hills at full speed plus, often clearing other buses by a hair. You can’t really see the steepness from these photos, but there are big sheer drops literally inches from the road side. I had to look away my first few trips.
The Jockey Club race track is at the bottom of this photo.
It really is vertical here!!
We are now at the bottom of the hill approaching Central. If you look closely in the centre of the picture, you can see one of the “Naked Man” statues by Antony Gormley I wrote about earlier.
We have now arrived at the shuttle’s final destination near the General Post Office in Central. You can see the rather vast expanse of nothing, although this area fills up on Sundays with domestic helpers congregating on their day off (more on that another time).
I have now walked around the Post Office and am walking across an overpass leading to the Star Ferry terminal. Hong Kong has a vast network of overhead walkways connecting buildings and taking pedestrians over busy thoroughfares, many of which cannot be crossed on foot at street level. This walkway was unusually empty this particular day.
Directly across from this walkway is the Apple store in the IFC tower. This was taken before opening time at 10:00 a.m. You can see all the staff gathering for their morning pep rally. This is more people than many Canadian Apple stores see in a day.
This is taken from the other side of the same walkway, this time looking at the HK Ferris Wheel at the Central Harbourfront. The wheel opened about a year ago. It sits on the Hong Kong island side, which means you get a great view of the Kowloon side (which is not very scenic) rather than the iconic view of HK island seen on postcards. The wheel is 60 meters high versus the London Eye which is 135 meters and the Singapore Flyer at 165 meters. It’s kind of one of those “Huh??” decisions made by the local government. The space to the right of the wheel is versatile, hosting everything from huge art fairs to the HK Phil’s annual Symphony Under the Stars concert. Here is it occupied by a carnival. You can also see the not-so-lovely surrounding area which seems to be a permanent construction zone.
I’m now entering the Star Ferry waiting area.
I have now boarded the ferry. The cost to ride is about 30 cents. This was an especially crowd-free day!
Victoria Harbour is an incredibly busy waterway. I really like this part of of my commute. Sometimes it can be choppy and sometimes the ferry passes distressingly close (to me at least) to other boat traffic. Nevertheless, I find this ferry ride mellowing and relaxing.
On the left you can see another ferry like the one I ride. We are heading towards Tsim Sha Tsui (TST) in Kowloon.
Coming in to the Tsim Sha Tsui ferry terminal. The brown curved building is the Cultural Centre where the HK Phil performs.
This is where you arrive after disembarking from the ferry at TST. This concourse is filled with cheap souvenir shops and an astonishingly small Hong Kong Tourism centre; I couldn’t believe it when I discovered it was the main one in HK. This area is dull, drab and dreary. Behind the stands on the left is a bus terminal, so it’s smelly and noisy too.
Another crowd-free shot — how did this happen?! Anyway, this is the exterior of the Cultural Centre. It occupies prime real estate overlooking the harbour towards that iconic HK skyline I referred to above — but this building has not a single window!! What you see on the left is the concert hall loading dock area; an identical one for the theatre is on the other side. It is a challenge, to say the least, for semi-trailers unloading a big show. All delivery vehicles to drive right into this public area which, trust me, is usually jammed with people.
To the left of here, following another set of these angled columns which I have learned are called “raked legs”, I arrive at the Cultural Centre’s Administration Building where I work.
In spite of my complaints about some of these areas, I think it’s a pretty awesome commute. It’s easy to become inured to the views around me and I sometimes have to remind myself to pay attention to my surroundings because it’s so amazingly different from anything I would have experienced in Canada. My commute is also a time for reading online news, checking messages or reading a book, so it’s really quite an enjoyable part of my day. Thanks for keeping me company on my daily commute.