Tin Hau Temple (Hong Kong)

Tin Hau Temple

The peaceful Tin Hau Temple, at the western end of Stanley Main St, past a tiny Tai Wong shrine and through the Stanley Plaza shopping complex, stands on a highly propitious Feng Shui site next to Starbucks and McDonald’s on Stanley Promenade in Stanley. The walk going there was worthwhile for the sea views.

Censer (incense burner)

Founded by 1767, it is said to be the oldest building in Hong Kong. In 1942, during the Japanese attack on Stanley, two Japanese bombs hit the temple but did not explode, miraculously saving the crowds of people sheltering there. Since then, the temple has undergone a complete renovation but its interior is still traditional.

There are over 70 temples dedicated to Tin Hau in Hong Kong and this unusually designed temple is, of course, a dedicated place of worship for the goddess of the sea.

It has nearly 20 other eminent gods and goddesses (including Guanyin, Che Kung, Wong Tai Sin, Guan Yu and Hung Shing) uniquely arranged on a bench around the walls, with the goddess Tin Hau in the of center. The temple is especially busy on the 23rd of the 3rd lunar month, the birthday of the goddess.

Wall lined with deities

No visit to Tin Hau Temple is complete without a look at the genuine tiger skin hanging on the wall, said to frighten off evil spirits. Said to weigh 240 pounds, it is 73 inches long and 3 feet high.  In the 1940s, this tiger appeared in Stanley when the local villagers were celebrating with performances of Chinese Opera.

It was shot by Mr Rur Singh, an ethnic Indian policeman, in front of Stanley Police Station in 1942. Singh  presented the skin to the villagers and, since then, it has been exhibited in the Tin Hau Temple for more than half a century.

Tin Hau Temple: 119 Stanley Main St., Stanley, Hong Kong.

How to Get There: From Central’s Exchange Square, take buses No.6, 6A, 6X, 260 or 262. From Causeway Bay’s Tang Lung Street (Corner of Percival Street and Hennessy Road), take green minibus No.40

 

Murray House (Hong Kong)

The 3-storey Murray House, a masterpiece Classical architecture of the  Victorian Era first completed in the present day business district of Central way back in 1846, is one of the oldest surviving public buildings in Hong Kong. It stood witness to more than a century’s historical vicissitudes in Hong Kong.  Murray House originally housed the military officers’ quarters of the Murray Barracks of the British forces stationed in Hong Kong. During World War II, Murray House was, for 44 months, a command center of the Japanese military police, a torture and interrogation center and also the execution place for some Chinese citizens.

Murray House

Starting in 1965, the building was used as offices by several government departments including the Rating and Valuation Department. Believed to be haunted, exorcism ceremonies were held in the building in 1963 and 1974 (televised). During the 1970’s and 1980’s, the local economy took flight and the plot of land on which Murray House stood became valuable property. In 1982, Murray House was dismantled to give way to the new new Bank of China Tower and, for 15 years, more than 3,000 blocks of the building were labeled and cataloged for future restoration and stored in Tai Tam. However, some raw materials like chimneys were lost during the demolition.

Historical plaque

Eventually, a permanent home by the sea was found here in Stanley but the whole redevelopment project was a challenge that took substantial manpower and resources. Just like toy building blocks, the granite blocks were reassembled, their positioning precisely calculated. The building was reopened on April 2, 2001.

The author at Murray House

Today, Murray House, a major milestone in Hong Kong’s heritage restoration history and an important icon at Stanley, houses some fine restaurants that offer different international gourmet food at the first and second floors. The ground floor, which once housed the Hong Kong Maritime Museum (established in 2005, then moved to Pier 8 in Central in February 2013),.has a long corridor, in the middle of which is a little exhibition of Murray House’s history. The first level has heavy stone walls with flat arched openings while the second and third levels have lighter Doric  and Ionic columns to allow better ventilation. in response to the Hong Kong’s subtropical/monsoons climate, all floors have verandas on all sides.

View of the waterfront

Murray House: 96 Stanley Main St, StanleyHong Kong.

How to Get There: From Central’s Exchange Square, take buses No.6, 6A, 6X, 260 or 262. From Causeway Bay’s Tang Lung Street (Corner of Percival Street and Hennessy Road), take green minibus No.40

Old Stanley Police Station (Hong Kong)

The two-storey, Colonial-style Old Stanley Police Station, built in 1859, is one of the earliest police stations in Hong Kong. Since all the other five have been demolished, it is now the oldest police station in Hong Kong.

Old Stanley Police Station

During the 1941-1945 Japanese Occupation, the building was used as the local headquarters of the Japanese gendarmerie. After the war, it was restored as a police station until 1974 when a new one was built.  It was then occupied by several government departments as their sub-offices until 1991. Thus commanding great heritage significance, it was gazette as a Declared Monument on June 15, 1984. In 2003, this building was converted into a supermarket.

Historical plaque

This building’s façade, with its Chinese tiled pitched roof, is dominated by a colonnaded open veranda. It was constructed, with load-bearing brick wall and timber joists, on a sloping site with random rubble retaining walls at the rear. Inside are wooden floors, dome-shaped ceiling (at the original gun room), windows with louvered shutters and several large, vintage,  cast-iron fireplaces.

Old Stanley Police Station: 88 Stanley Village Road, Hong Kong. Open daily, 8 AM – 10 PM.

How to Get There: From Central’s Exchange Square, take buses No.6, 6A, 6X, 260 or 262. From Causeway Bay’s Tang Lung Street (Corner of Percival Street and Hennessy Road), take green minibus No.40

Hong Kong: Hong Kong Disneyland

Too excited to even wait for our check-in, from the Hollywood Hotel we all proceeded to the park via its regular complimentary airconditioned shuttle.   The actual 100-acre park, the smallest Disneyland in the world, currently features 4 themed lands similar to those at other Disneyland parks: Main Street, U.S.A., Adventureland (the biggest one among all the Disneyland parks), Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.

Entrance Promenade

We had a choice of 22 entertainment items in the park (there are 44 in Paris, 45 in Tokyo and Florida, and 65 in California).  The park’s biggest draws were its shows and there were three on our list. The Golden Mickeys, at Disney’s Storybook Theater in Fantasyland, is a spectacular musical extravaganza featuring all the glitz and glamour of a Hollywood tribute, honoring your favorite Disney films.

Golden Mickeys - Disney's Storybook Theater

Also at Fantasyland, we donned special sunglasses at Mickey’s PhilharMagic and watched a hilarious and dazzlingly immersive 3-D attraction of movies, music and mayhem featuring Maestro Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Alladin and other animated Disney characters as they burst forth before our amazed eyes.

Festival of the Lion King - Theater in the Wild

At the newly decorated Adventureland, temporarily renamed Pirateland (until June 30) to celebrate the release of the new feature film “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” we watched the fantastic Festival of the Lion King at its Theater in the Wild. This colorful pageant of music and dance, inspired by and celebrating Disney’s animated classic “The Lion King,” features a vibrant collaboration of live performers (including a number of Filipinos), stunning costumes and exotic scenery. We liked it so much; we watched it again the next day.

Jungle River Cruise Pirate Takeover

Also at Pirateland, we tried out the Jungle River Cruise, Pirate Takeover!, venturing down the dangerous waters of a seemingly mysterious river filled with new surprises; and took a motorized log raft to Tarzan’s Island (inspired by Disney’s animated feature, “Tarzan”), climbing the moss-and-vine-covered Tarzan’s Treehouse, along the way  learning the story of this human child raised by gorillas.

Sleeping Beauty Castle - Fantasyland

Other park attractions are their rides.  We took one giant and tumultuous leap for fun at Space Mountain, an indoor roller coaster, where we seemingly rocketed, at warp speed, to into the inky blackness of the nether reaches of space, amidst synchronized music and sound effects.

Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters - Tomorrowland

At Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, in Tomorrowland, we became Space Rangers saving the galaxy from the Evil Emperor Zurg, riding Star Cruisers and firing moveable, hand-held laser cannons as we tried to blast enemy targets and amass points. Less tumultuous was our horseback ride on the Cinderella Carousel, a sure hit for the young and the young-at-heart.

Posing with Snow White

Other favorite activities of kids, including mine, were photo opportunities with costumed Disney characters. However, you have to sometimes wait in long lines to do so.  Where the queue was short, we posed with Captain Hook at Pirateland; and Belle, Goofy and Snow White at Fantasyland.  We again got to see them, and the others we missed, at the magical 3 PM Disney on Parade, a daily cavalcade of Disney characters and music in a procession starting in Fantasyland and proceeding down to Main Street, U.S.A.

Royal Banquet Hall

In between rides and shows, we quenched our thirst and filled our stomachs with rice meals at the Royal Banquet Hall at Fantasyland, and chicken burgers and French fries at Comet Café at Tomorrowland.

With a Tricycle-Mounted Filipino Piano Player at Main Street, U.S.A.

Main Street is our favorite hangout, cooling off (and buying souvenirs such as shirts and key chains) at Main Street Emporium, again cooling off and admiring (but not buying) expensive and exquisite crystal figurines of Disney characters (including watching a demo on how they were made) at Crystal Arts.

The Disneyland Story - Main Street, U.S.A.

We also learned “How Mickey Mouse came to Hong Kong” in The Disneyland Story, or simply watching  people passing by or enjoying a nostalgic and leisurely trip along Main Street to Town Square on board quaint Paddy Wagons or Main Street Taxis or on the excursion-style train of Disneyland Railroad.

Disney on Parade

I also enjoyed chatting with many of our kababayans employed in the park, including a tricycle-mounted piano player. Main Street is also the venue for a grandstand view of the 8 P.M. Disney in the Stars, a  magnificent, magical and colorful fireworks spectacular, choreographed to classic Disney songs and music, and held over the towering and graceful spires of Sleeping Beauty Castle. We capped our evening with fine dining at the nearby Corner Café.

Disney in the Stars Fireworks

Hong Kong: Disney’s Hollywood Hotel

The next day, after another breakfast at MacDonald’s along Nathan Rd., we checked out of Kimberley Hotel and were all picked up by airconditioned coach for the early morning, 1.5-hour drive to Hollywood Hotel, one of two hotels at Hong Kong Disneyland (the other is the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel), where we were to stay overnight.  We got 2 adjoining rooms (3737 and 3738).

Hollywood Hotel

This Hollywood-themed hotel has 600 airconditioned rooms with bath, flat screen LCD TV, in-room safe and in-room high-speed internet access (Garden View, Sea View and Park View).

Suite 3737

It also has restaurants (Chef Mickey, Studio Lounge, the al fresco Sunset Terrace), coffee shop (Hollywood & Dine), a piano-shaped swimming pool, pool bar, toy shop, gift shop and a children’s playground. It also offers guest limousine service, laundry and valet service.

Swimming Pool

The hotel was designed with an Art Deco exterior that features design motifs incorporating Disney’s world-famous mouse.  Its 21 acre, landscaped gardens appears like a map of Los Angeles and features details such as the famous Hollywood sign and vintage Californian cars.  We also availed of the complimentary shuttle service between the hotel and Hong Kong Disneyland.

1941 Willys

Disney’s Hollywood Hotel: Hong Kong Disneyland, Lantau Island, Hong Kong.  Tel: +852 3510-5000.  Fax: +852 3510-5333.

Hong Kong: Ocean Park

From the Peak Tram, we all met up at the Ocean Park main entrance where we rode cable cars in 3 groups, ascending to the headland section (1,400 ft. above sea level), during which we had an unparalleled and spectacular view of Hong Kong Island, the sublime South China Sea beyond and the expanse of the park including Atoll Reef, Shark Aquarium, Ocean Theater, the 72-m. (236-ft.) high Ocean Park Tower (with its cabin which slowly revolves from ground to top) and its rides.

Cable Car

This marine park’s main draw is its marine attractions at Marine Land.  Mark,  Nenette and their kids Gelo and Matthew watched the thrilling theatrics of adorable Pacific bottlenose dolphins and Californian sea lions (the official mascot of Ocean Park is “Whiskers,” a waving sea lion) in a huge pond at the open-air Ocean Theater.

Atoll Reef

On the other hand, we visited the Shark Aquarium where 70 sharks from 35 species are displayed. At its underwater viewing tunnel (Asia’s first), we observed Black Tip Reef Sharks, Pygmy Swell Shark, Hammerhead Sharks and other kinds of sharks, looking at them eye to eye as they safely passed overhead.  Too bad we missed seeing divers feeding or playing with sharks.

Shark Aquarium

We next visited the expansive Atoll Reef where 2,000 fish in 250 species are displayed in a huge, coral-themed aquarium. Shaped like a 3 or 4-storey, elliptical fishbowl, here we viewed a variety of fish through 6-cm. (2.4-inch) thick glass windows. Atoll Reef is divided into the shadow and the deep levels, each exhibiting its characteristic aquatic life.

Marine Life at Atoll Reef

The collection includes sharks, tropical fish, nautilus, tiny Pomacentridae fish, a gigantic Zebra Shark, morays, groupers, turtles and over 400 kinds of maritime animals from the Pacific Islands or the South China Sea, plus some corals and cays.

Sea Jelly Spectacular

Another sensory wonder was the Sea Jelly Aquarium, Southeast Asia’s first.  Here, we were awed by over 1,000 sea jellies of all sizes, shapes and colors from all over the world.

The Dragon

The park’s other attractions are its numerous exciting rides.  Too bad the Dragon, a steel roller coaster (the longest one in Hong Kong) with 842 m. of track, was closed for servicing.  I, however, tried it (alone) on my second visit. My 2.5-min. ride, travelling at a maximum speed of 77 kms. (almost 48 miles) per hour, consisted of heart-stopping twists, turns and 360-degree loops with a brief but thrilling stint of being suspended upside down.

Abyss Turbo Drop

However, Cheska and I tried out the swinging Crazy Galleon, the Eagle and the thrilling Abyss Turbo Drop.  At the latter, we were slowly raised, on a platform, vertically up a 185-ft. tower (where we had an overall view of the ocean and park). The platform then stops briefly at the top before it drops abruptly straight down in free fall in 5 sec., surprising even us who were prepared.

Flying Swing

Jandy joined us in the Ferris Wheel and Flying Swing were we were swung in chairs as high as 7 m. (23 ft.) through a gyrating wave.  We missed out on the Zamperla Mine Train (a roller coaster), the Space Wheel and the Raging River, all at Adventureland.  Upon closing time, we all left the park the same way we came in – by cable car.

Ocean Park: Wong Chuk Hang, Hong Kong.  Tel: 3923 2323.  Open Mondays-Fridays, 9 AM–5 PM.

Hong Kong: Peak Tram

Upon arrival at the Lower Peak Tram Terminus, we bought our tickets for the Peak Tram, a 1.352 km. funicular ride through upper Hong Kong that will take us  up to around 396 m. up the 522-m. high Victoria Peak, the highest peak in Hong Kong.

Lower Peak Tram Terminus

Opened in May 1888  for the exclusive use of the British Governor and Victoria Peak residents (the first mechanical public transport in Hong Kong), this historic service remains, to this day, the steepest funicular railway in the world.  The trams were originally steam-driven.  In 1926, an electric cable haulage system was introduced and the current modernized enclosed, 2-car trams were introduced in 1989, using a 1520 mm. rail gauge.  Until the 1960s, there were 2 classes of tickets, one for the rich and the other for servants.

On Board the Peak Tram

The Peak Tram operates from 7 AM to midnight, departing within 10 to 15-min. intervals. The journey, from lower terminus to upper terminus, up the peak took us only 7 to 8 mins. but, during that short time, we were offered, as the tram ascended, an unfolding canvas of stunning views over Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and Victoria Harbor.

Cityscape View From the Peak Tram

Each red tram has a capacity of 120 people (95 seated and 25 standing). There were immediate stations at Cotton Tree Drive Terminal, Kennedy Rd., MacDonnell Rd., May Rd. and Barker Rd. though, at busy times, it may not be possible to board as the trams may be full.

Peak Tower Terminus

We arrived at the upper terminus at the distinctive, ultra-modern, 7-storey Peak Tower by 12:30 PM.  The tower’s wok-shaped upper storey looks not unlike a Japanese Shinto Gate.  The tower was designed by architect Zaha Hadid and was completed on August 29, 1972. The current tower, designed by renowned British architect Terry Farrell, was officially reopened to the public on May 1997.

Peak Tower

Upon arrival, we first had our lunch at the tower’s Burger King outlet. After lunch, we proceeded to its view platform where we had a stunning cityscape view of Hong Kong’s skyline.  With over 7000 skyscrapers built in past 2 decades, it is the world biggest, larger than New York City and, many say, the most beautiful in the world.  Also best appreciated at night, when the neon lights of Hong Kong’s giant skyscrapers are most majestic, it remains one of the greatest man-made views on Earth.

Hong Kong’s Magnificent Skyline

The tower’s retail and entertainment complex features a number of top attractions, including Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium (2nd and 3rd floor), the Peak Explorer Motion Simulator (4th floor) and Madame Tussaud’s Waxworks Museum. Though we didn’t enter the wax museum, we still had a blast posing beside the available wax images of late martial arts start Bruce Lee and actress Cecilia Cheung.

Bruce Lee in Wax at Madame Tussaud’s

The tower also boasts of shopping arcades, 6 snack bars and cafes and 4 fine-dining restaurants including Hong Kong’s highest restaurant, Mövenpick Marche. After 1.5 hrs. on the tower, we decided it was time to leave for our next destination – Ocean Park, this time taking the taxi.

Peak Tram Lower Terminus: 33 Garden Road, Central, Hong Kong. Tel: (852) 2522 0922. Fax: (852) 2849 6237. Website: www.thepeak.com.hk. Email : info@thepeak.com.hk. Fares: Adults (HK$28 single, HK$40 return), Child (HK$11 single, HK$18 return), Senior (65 and over, HK$11 single, HK$18 return).

Hong Kong: Enroute to the Peak Tram

After our breakfast at a MacDonald’s outlet along Nathan Rd., we all returned to our hotel and prepared for our day’s main activities – the Peak Tram in the morning and Ocean Park in the afternoon. We planned to all go the former via the very efficient Mass Transit Railway (MTR) system.  From the hotel, we all walked all the way, from Kimberley Rd. to Nathan Rd. and, from there, to the nearby Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station.  Here, we took the MTR to Central MTR Station.

Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station

Upon our arrival at Central, we made our way to the J2 Exit and walked up to the ground level. It was a pleasant walk from Central to the Peak Tram Lower Terminus. Turning right, through Chater Garden (a gathering place for many of our Filipino kababayans), we crossed Queen’s Road Central and made our way up Garden Road. Along the way, we passed a few famous Hong Kong landmarks such as the Bank of China Tower and Citibank Plaza on our left and St John’s Cathedral on our right.

Central MTR Station

The cross-shaped, Early English and Decorated-Gothic styled St. John’s Cathedral (or the Cathedral Church of St. John the Evangelist), a declared monument since January 5, 1996.  Located along Garden Road, it is the oldest surviving Western ecclesiastical building in Hong Kong and is believed to be the oldest Anglican church in the Far East.  It was built in 1849 and houses 3 beautiful stained glass windows, as well as a collection of British military colors, standards and guidons. An eastern extension was added in 1873.  During the Japanese occupation, the cathedral was used as a social club for the Japanese community.  It suffered heavy damage during the war and most of the present interior and furnishings are post-war.

St. John's Cathedral

Next to the cathedral, along Battery Path, is the Former French Mission Building, built by Sir Henry Pottinger, the first governor of Hong Kong. This granite and red brick structure, completed between 1842 and 1843, is one of Hong Kong’s oldest surviving colonial buildings. Acquired by the French Mission in 1915, it was extensively rebuilt in 1917 and was finally sold back to the Hong Kong Government in 1953. Reputedly the location of the colony’s first government house, it has green shutters, black wrought-iron details and a chapel on the northwest corner, topped by a cupola, added by French Catholic missionaries. Today, this Neo-Classical styled building is used as the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal and was declared as a declared monument on September 14, 1989.

Former French Mission Building

Built in 1950, the 17-storey Old Bank of China Building, Hong Kong Building was, for some time, one of the masterpieces of Hong Kong architecture. Contemporary in style, it was completed only a year after the Communist Party came to power in China. The new party endeavored to make it one of the grandest buildings in Hong Kong and, at one point, it towered more than 20 feet over the neighboring Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank Building (HSBC), which was their goal.

Old Bank of China Building (left) beside the newer HSBC Building

No longer home to the Bank of China, the attractive building is – ironically – now one of the shortest in Hong Kong’s Central District, was replaced in the 1990s by I.M Pei’s stunning Bank of China Tower. However, during its heyday, the old building served not only as bank headquarters but also as a way to encourage Hong Kong citizens to disregard their colonial rulers and pledge allegiance to China. It is said that during the 1960s, loud speakers were placed on the exterior of the building to broadcast “patriotic” messages to locals.

Bank of China Building

The Old Bank of China was designed by P & T Architects and Engineers Ltd., established in 1868. Also known as Palmer and Turner, the group has, throughout the decades, designed a number of other well-known Hong Kong landmarks, including the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank (Bank of China’s rival) and a number of other office buildings, hotels, and condominiums worldwide.

Hong Kong: Avenue of the Stars

After our museums and Clock Tower visit, Jandy, Cheska and I moved on to the Victoria Harbor waterfront for the Avenue of the Stars, one of Hong Kong’s newest attractions.  Opened on April 27, 2004, this HK$40 million avenue, built along an existing promenade, was designed by local architects AGC Design, financed by New World Group and supported by government bodies including the Hong Kong Tourism Board, the Hong Kong Tourism Commission and the Hong Kong Film Awards Association. Upon completion, it was donated to the Hong Kong SAR Government by New World Group.

Avenue of the Stars

Modeled after the popular Hollywood Walk of Fame in the U.S., it honors glamorous celebrities of the Hong Kong (touted as the “Hollywood of the Orient”) film industry. Upon entering Salibury Garden (the western entrance), from the Hong Kong Museum of Art, we were greeted by a 4.5 m. high replica of the statuette given to winners at the annual Hong Kong Film Awards.

Welcome to the Avenue of the Stars

Along its 440 m. long promenade, which commands a stunning panoramic view across Victoria Harbor, the story of Hong Kong’s 100 years of cinematic history is told through inscriptions printed on 9 red pillars. Also set into the promenade’s colored paving blocks are 101  (up from the initial 73) plaques honoring the celebrities, some emblazoned with hand prints and autographs of the stars set in cement, but most only contain the celebrities’ names as they are now deceased (such as Bruce Lee).

Plaque of Bruce Lee

Among the few plaques with hand prints that we recognized were those of Chow Yun Fat and martial arts superstars Michelle Yeoh, Jackie Chan and Jet Li.  We all can’t help but crouch or sit down and take photos of our hands in the molds of their hand prints.  The others are recognizable only to the Hong Kong community or aficionados of Hong Kong films.

Measuring Up to Jet Li

One of the most recent additions to the Avenue of Stars is the 2.5 m. bronze statue of the late Bruce Lee (1940-1973), erected here in 2005 to commemorate his 65th birth anniversary.  Another popular attraction along the avenue for photo opportunities is a statue of  a film director and cameraman “on set.” There are also 3 souvenir kiosks along the Avenue of Stars, including one dedicated to Jackie Chan merchandise and memorabilia.

Emulating Bruce Lee

Nightly, at 8 PM, the promenade is a popular viewing place for the free 14-min. light and sound show called the “Symphony of Lights.” Here, 44 prominent buildings on both sides of Victoria Harbor, part of Hong Kong Island’s famous skyline, becomes spectacularly illuminated.

Statues of Director and Cameramen on Set

Avenue of the Stars: Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong.

How to Get There: by MTR, take the East Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station, exit J, near InterContinental Hotel.  It is a 3-min. walk from the avenue. Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station, which is linked by pedestrian subway to East Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station and has common exits is also within walking distance. The Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry Pier is also a 10-min. walk from the avenue. Follow the promenade past the clock tower and along the harbor side, in front of Hong Kong Cultural Centre and Museum of Art.  The Star Ferry Bus Terminus, located at Star Ferry Pier, is the terminus for KMB services 1, 1A, 2, 5, 5A, 5C, 6, 6A, 7, 8 and 9. Routes A21, 8A, 13X, 26, 28, 35A, 41A, 81C, 87D, 98D, 110, 203, 208, 215X, 219X and 224X all stop on Salisbury Road, outside New World Centre, a 5-min. walk from the avenue.

Hong Kong: Clock Tower, Hong Kong Cultural Center, Hong Kong Museum of Art and Hong Kong Space Museum

From Kowloon Park, Jandy, Cheska and I walked along Canton Road until we reached the red brick and granite, 45-m. high Former Kowloon-Canton Railway Clock Tower, located near Victoria Harbor at the foot of Salisbury Road.  Topped by a 7-m. high lightning rod, it is the only remnant of the original site of the former Kowloon Station on the Kowloon-Canton Railway. Built in 1915, it marks the start of the scenic Waterfront Promenade and remains as a photogenic monument to Tsim Sha Tsui’s rail heritage. The tower can be reached by a wooden staircase located within. Another landmark, the Tsim Sha Tsui Ferry Pier, is located nearby.

Clock Tower

The Clock Tower reused the clock from the now demolished Pedder Street Clock Tower. However, only one side had a clock, and it was not until 1920 that the remaining three sides of the Clock Tower were installed. They began operation in the afternoon of March 22, 1921, and have run ever since except during the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong during World War II.  In 1975, the Kowloon Station was moved to the present-day Hung Hom Station, on the newly reclaimed Hung Hom Bay. The old building of the station was demolished in 1977 but the Clock Tower was preserved. Since July 13, 1990, the tower has been listed as a declared monument in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Cultural Center

Today, the site of the historic railway station is now occupied by the multipurpose Hong Kong Cultural Center, its curving roof and futuristic features creating an unusual background to the Clock Tower. Home to the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, the center has an oval, 2-tiered 2,019-seat Concert Hall with adjustable acoustic canopy and curtains and finished with high-quality oak.  It also houses an 8,000-pipe pipe organ (Asia’s largest, built by the Austrian firm Rieger Orgelbau), a 1,734-seat, 3-tiered Grand Theater for large scale opera, ballet and musicals,  a 300-496-seat Studio Theater for smaller-scale theater and performance works, an  Exhibition Gallery, 4 foyer exhibition areas and 11 rehearsal and practice rooms.

Hong Kong Museum of Art

Flanking the Hong Kong Cultural Center are the Hong Kong Space Museum and the Hong Kong Museum of Art.  The Hong Kong Museum of Art, a museum for Chinese cultural heritage, and local and international art in Hong Kong, houses 14,000 art objects, mainly Chinese paintings of historical significance, sculpture and calligraphy works and antique Chinese treasures.  The museum also presents a great variety of thematic exhibitions drawn from local and overseas sources. It was first established in the City Hall in 1962 and moved to the present premises in 1991.

Hong Kong Space Museum

The 80,000-sq. m., dome-shaped Hong Kong Space Museum, built in 1980, has 3 sections: the Hall of Space Science, the Hall of Astronomy, and one of the world’s largest and most technical planetariums, the Space Theater, where thrilling wide-screen Omnimax and Skyshows are presented.

How to Get There: From MTR Tsim Sha Tsui Station Exit E, walk towards Salisbury Road, turn right, take pedestrian next to YMCA to Hong Kong Cultural Centre. Then turn right and walk straight ahead towards the waterfront.  Take Star Ferry from Central or Wan Chai and follow the signs. The Clock Tower is located next to the Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry Pier.