You Can’t Get There From Here

The day began earlier than expected as I’m still off kilter time-wise. This is the natural result of what is called jet-lag. The plan was a day trip out to Stanley Bay which is on the south side of Hong Kong Island. Stanley is a small town notable for waterfront dining and shopping.

We met at the 973 Bus stop on Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. They should change the name from Canton Road to Designer Label Street or maybe Rodeo Drive East. The actual bus stop was directly in front of a Mont Blanc Pen Store, a few doors up from a Piaget Watch Store, and directly across the street were the Louis Vuitton and Hermes superstores. These places were not selling knock-offs. These were the real things. That’s what this part of town is known for – Consumerism at its zenith. Zenith starts with Z which rhymes with C which stands for conspicuous and costly. Notice the people standing in line to get into the store at 10:30 in the morning. Also within a stone’s throw were Gucci, Tiffany’s, Ferragamo, Rolex, Coco Chanel, Dior, and some other Italian designer shops.This list of available ‘brand names’ seemed endless.

Anyway, soon enough the 973 double decker bus arrived and we boarded. Our route would take us beneath Victoria Harbor via the Western Harbor Tunnel arriving on the western end of Sheung Wan. The bus route would climb up the hills of Pok Fu Lam, past the University of Hong Kong, and head south along the western coast of Hong Kong Island passing through Aberdeen, then two of the most picturesque and expensive places to live in Hong Kong – Deep Water Bay and Repulse Bay. Later in Stanley we passed a real estate brokerage where we saw dozens of listings for homes in Repulse Bay. One was offering a four bedroom, 4.5 baths, more than 4200 square feet home apartment. The cost to buy was 93 Million Hong Kong dollars which is just under 12 million US dollars. The cost to rent: HK$75,000 a month or a bit more than $9,600 US dollars a month.

Repulse Bay, Hong Kong

The road was quite windy, narrow, two-lanes, up and down hills, and had almost no stretches of straight or flat. Eventually we’d come down from the hills as Stanley is at sea level. Stanley Harbor spills directly into the South China Sea. The shopping is fun with everything from sporting goods, to home wares, from fashions to art, and antiques and curios to watches.

Entrance to Stanley Market

Our shopping purchases included a Beatles necktie with images of John, Paul, George, and Ringo’s faces stacked vertically, a Chairman Mao tee shirt only it wasn’t Mao’s face – instead it was ‘Chairman’ Obama, postcards, and a table runner.

The Murray House

Rather than having lunch at a waterfront restaurant, we opted for the Murray House (indoors and air-conditioned) which was a building originally built in 1844 and which housed the British Colonial offices. The building was located in Central on the north-side of Hong Kong. In 1984 the building was taken apart stone by stone and put into storage. In 2000, the building was re-assembled in Stanley. It currently houses the Hong Kong Maritime Museum and four restaurants. We ate at Wildfire sharing pizza, ribs, a chicken and pasta dish, a Caesar Salad, and a crab cake appetizer. I got a little buzzed on two large steins of ice-cold Carlsberg Beer.

Happy Valley & highway emerging from Aberdeen Tunnel

For our route back, we took the 260 Bus which passed through, actually under, the mountains of Hong Kong via the Aberdeen Tunnel. We’d emerge from the tunnel in the vicinity of the Hong Kong Jockey Club which is actually a venue for horse racing called Happy Valley. You round a bend and you pass the open end of the track, the huge grandstand does not completely circle the track. In the picture, you can see the road emerging from the tunnel and passing right along-side Happy Valley. What makes this sight so memorable are the soaring high-rise apartment towers that surround the track.

We ultimately arrived at Statue Square in Central and got off the bus. Rather than just grabbing a cab right there – we took the MTR to Sheung Wan where my apartment is. What we discovered is that it was quite difficult to get a cab at that time in Sheung Wan. We tried walking up the seemingly endless series of steps towards the apartment – but by the time we gave up and grabbed a taxi – we were on a street heading away from the apartment. We actually ended up going back down the hilly streets before circling around to go back up to Po Hing Fong. What I discovered is that it was easier to get to my apartment in Sheung Wan from Central rather than from Sheung Wan itself. Hence the title of this piece – You can’t get there from here.

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