The top of the world – Day 4

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I awoke and primped in time for the morning talks at the conference. I stayed for the first session on second language perception/production, before ducking out to get a little sightseeing in. I figured since I will be heading out a fair distance to attend to the tone conference Monday and Tuesday, I’ll be at that conference for full days. Given that, I thought I’d better do any remaining sightseeing I’d like to do in the next couple days. My plan was to head up to the Peak, which apparently affords a 360-degree view of the city. I hopped on the MTR and whisked my way over one stop to Admiralty Station. I was slightly turned around as to exactly which direction I needed to go to find the Peak, but I tried heading through one of the malls, Pacific Place, which naturally got me side-tracked. I popped into Ted Baker and French Connection to try a few things on, before deciding that the sizing here was slightly different (though I could just be gaining weight). Feeling a little plump, I soldiered onwards, and after a sweaty hike up hill, I finally reached the Peak ticket station. Much to my dismay, there was a rather lengthy line, but I waited it out in the heat, trudging forward inch by inch.

Eventually, the little tram car came to pick us up. I sat on my little wooden seat, somewhat reminiscent of the San Francisco trams, and it started on its way. The Peak Tram is a funicular railway taking tram cars up to Victoria Peak. It has a fairly storied history, originating back in 1888, and has been subject to several natural disasters and a world war. The ride wasn’t that long, all things told, but it was an interesting prospect to be going up at about a 30 degree angle, with all the buildings going by, skewed slightly. My world’s always been a little off-kilter, but it’s a bit startling to see it become reality. I disembarked and headed up a series of escalators, through what was essentially a mall (complete with Levi’s, Crocs, amongst others), until I reached the Sky Terrace. For a couple bucks extra, I could get the 360 degree view of the city, and, after all the time it took me to get there, I was happy to spring for it.

The view from the top was stunning. The skies had cleared, save for a few puffy clouds, which also meant we baked. They had oddly decided to make the handrails shiny and metal, so of course they were scalding hot to the touch. But being at the top of the Peak also afforded us a pleasant breeze, so I loitered for a time to soak it all in, taking my pictures (and other people’s pictures) until I’d had my fill. I popped into Burger King to get some lunch (of an amusingly small burger) and my fast food fix. I milled about outside for a bit, but there didn’t seem to be much in the immediate area other than restaurants and shops. The queue for the tram back down looked atrocious, a good 30 – 45 minutes long, waiting in the sun, so I opted to find a taxi. It was absolutely worth the extra $3 CAD to have an air-conditioned cab take me right to the MTR station in less time than it would’ve taken me to wait in line for the tram.

I was whisked back to the Wan Chai stop and was soon luxuriating in the comfort of my air-conditioned hotel room. I planned to head over across to the other side of the city on the ferry to get some pictures of the city at night. Jen and I headed to the convention centre and picked up another conference goer. In the interest of finding food somewhat expediently, we opted to take the MTR across Victoria Harbour. We got out at Tsim Sha Tsui and found a bustling world of people and shops. We headed in the general direction of the Temple St. Night Market. The streets were alive with neon, awash with fluorescent colours. Eventually, a building with several floors of restaurant options caught our eye, and we headed in, ultimately deciding on Japanese. The first Japanese restaurant was completely full up (gotta love a Saturday night), but we found a second Japanese restaurant that looked like a tasty alternative. We had to take a ticket and wait to be called, and in our waiting time, came across a cute older couple who happened to have a phonetics t-shirt on. This naturally prompted we linguists to inquire, and it turned out they ran a school for teaching English in Hong Kong. The small-world hilariousness came when we learned that his son is actually an associate professor of education at SFU. Random!

When we finally were seated, we had a host of mostly sushi options to choose from. I spotted some fried chicken (karaage) and deep fried shrimp sushi for myself, while my companions went for the more interesting options, such as unagi and salmon roe. The food was timely and tasty, and we were soon feeling the full-stomach-induced lethargy. Fed and somewhat rested, we made our way up to the market. It reminded me greatly of Thai markets, full of knock-off purses, baubles and cell phone accessories. I had no particular goal, but I did end up with a fake Gucci purse and a couple gifts for folk back home. We haggled a bit for a various goods and came away saving a few dollars here and there. The nature of these markets does foster a certain repetitiveness in terms of products, so we eventually started feeling fatigued and headed back for the night. Unfortunately, I hadn’t gotten any ferry time in, but I’ll be back another evening.

 

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