Ngong Ping Cable Car Ride and Hike to Dragon’s Back

As I was saying in my previous post, Hong Kong lets you enjoy city life but at the same time it also has places to get away from the chaos of a metropolis and retreat into nature. Only a short distance from the main Hong Kong Island, you can escape to hills, valleys or the beautiful blue sea or both at the same time.

One of the days on our recent visit to HK, we took the MTR to get to Lantau Island. From there, we got onto the cable car to get to Ngong Ping Village and Big Buddha on top of a hill. The cable car was amazing actually. It is one of the longest and the highest cable car rides I’ve ever been on. The authorities say it’s totally safe but when I was riding on it, seeing the valley floor underneath, I couldn’t help wonder about what happens if the cable breaks. A cable car is hanging from just this one cable, right? What happens if something goes wrong? What’s the rescue mechanism for such incidents I had wondered.

This is where the cable ride starts from and goes to those hills

This is where the cable ride starts from and goes to those hills

Anyway, we rode both ways enjoying the views without anything untoward happening. The ride is made up of three ascents and as we went up the third one, the clouds closed in and it felt like we were the only ones amongst the clouds in the middle of nowhere. It was beautiful but also kind of eerie.

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I must warn you though that it can be very crowded if you go on a public holiday or weekend as it will be swarmed by tourists from mainland China. Choose a weekday to go ideally. If it isn’t possible for some reason, then try to go early in the morning. Advance online tickets will be good so that you only have to queue to get inside the car. We had to queue twice – first to purchase the tickets and then to get onto the ride and then to get back down as well. It was a really long and painful wait and we had almost quit on the idea of going up there. Miraculously, we kept going and did manage to enjoy the ride.

On the way to dragon's back

On the way to dragon’s back

The other outdoor activity I quite enjoyed was the hike to Dragon’s Back hill top. To get there, we took the MTR to Shau Kei Wan station and from there Bus no. 9 to Tei Wan on Shek O Road. This is where the hike starts from. Initially, as we started to climb the steps and the inclined path, we were sweating through all our pores. I had to actually stop to catch a breath very early on along the trail. But as we gained some height, we started to catch glimpses of these beautiful views. We took a quick rest at one of these viewing points. The short rest and seeing fellow hikers gaining ground boosted me to continue up the trail.

A view on the way to dragon's back

A view on the way to dragon’s back

 

Luckily, it wasn’t too hot that day and we had a slight cloud cover – just enough to not block the view but keep the sun away. After a while as I kept going, the body adjusted to the rhythm and we finally reached the top. It was a good feeling and a teeny-tiny sense of achievement at that point. I wouldn’t call the hike very challenging but it was still good to know that I was fit enough to do this kind of a trail without any training. I’m the type who doesn’t even exercise regularly so yes it was a happy realization!

View from Dragon's back

View from Dragon’s back

So these two good experiences along with city stuff and our holiday was complete!

Such activities are something that I do miss in Singapore. SG is great but once in a while you do miss getting away from the city over the weekend.

Ni Hao Hong Kong

Hong Kong city tram and bus on the road side by side

Hong Kong city tram and bus on the road side by side

We really enjoyed Hong Kong! I found the city to be lively, vibrant and quite safe; the people friendly, the weather good and commuting fairly easy. There is a plethora of all kinds of food joints and lots of things to do. The food scene is great for those who love to try local food.

I went on a three day visit from Singapore and we had a really wonderful time. As I always say, you can’t really compare one place from another as each place has something different to offer. Each place has its own magic, its own charm.

The first thing that caught my attention once we entered the city was the trams, casually milling around with the other more modern vehicles. These trams are what gives the city this unique appeal imo. We stayed at the Island Pacific hotel recommended by a colleague. It’s quite nice and gives you great sea-side views at moderate prices.

In front of causeway bay area, Hong Kong

In front of causeway bay area, Hong Kong

The first day, we spent some time in the Causeway bay area. Its often termed as Asia’s Times Square and it sort of is. We picked up a couple of things and then went for a nice dinner at Pizza Express, where we tried this unusual but appetizing bread dip of Pumkin and Mint. To travel around, we had purchased the Octopus cards which work on MTR, Bus, Tram and Ferry which makes it really convenient to go around. To get back home from Causewaybay, we hopped onto a tram – I was wanting to do this since we got into the city and we just loved it! It’s a slow mode of commute but for tourists, I think it’s the perfect way to tour the city. I learned later that some trams still have the original wooden frames from when they were first introduced in the city :-O

Hong Kong tram

Hong Kong tram

A tram up-close

Hong Kong A tram up-close

One of the days, we headed to Victoria Harbor and got onto the public ferry from there to enjoy the famed city skyline. The skyline is quite impressive I must say, especially at night and we enjoyed it from the public viewing area as well as the ferry. We also waited for this sound and light show at public area seeing that a sizable crowd had gathered to watch it. It turned out to be something you can easily give a miss – it’s nothing really. We also took the tram to get to The Peak to enjoy the city view from top of a hill. Turned out, the day we chose visit was so foggy, we could hardly see anything. Anyway, back luck sometimes happens.

Hong Kong city skyline

Hong Kong city skyline

A zoom-in shot of the Hong Kong city skyline

A zoom-in shot of the Hong Kong city skyline

This post was more about the city area – views, skylines, commuting and so on. What I also liked about HK was that within a short distance you can get into the lap of nature – there are hills and valleys you can admire or go for a hike/trek on one of the many trails … more on that in the upcoming post.