Hong Kong is one of Asia’s fastest cities, a bustling metropolitan and a thriving economy with a population of 7 million people and a gross domestic product of 248.6 billion USD per year.
However, it’s still possible to slow down in this frenetic city that never sleeps. And one of the ways is to take a ride on the electric tram, one of Hong Kong’s oldest forms of public transport that stretches 30km along the northern coast of the island.
The electric tram, locally known as the ‘Ding Ding’ thanks to its ringing bell, began its operations in 1904 and is one of the world’s only double-decker tram systems remaining today. A ride on the vintage trams is a major tourist attraction for visitors, costing a flat fare of HKD2.30, making it one of the cheapest, cutest and slowest ways to sightsee in Hong Kong.
During my trip in July, I took the tram from Sheung Wan in the west all the way to Shau Kei Wan on the eastern side of the island. I went straight up to the top deck and secured my spot at the corner to ensure I had the best views of the city. I began my journey at about 7pm from Queens Road West and watched as the night fell and the lights came on, experiencing the city by night.
The route crosses the financial district, which is located around Central and Admiralty. The edifice with the big X is The Bank of China Building and it’s one of my favourite skyscrapers in Hong Kong. Many blockbusters have been filmed in Hong Kong thanks to its magnificent cityscape, such as Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008), Johnny English Reborn (2011) and the upcoming Transformers 4 to be released in 2014.
The electric tram also took a slow journey along Johnston Road in Wan Chai district. Here, the night markets come alive at about 8pm, with plenty of locals and tourists alike shopping for clothes, toys and electronics. Wan Chai is one of the older districts on the island, adding to the city’s character and authenticity.
Sights like these high rise residential buildings are common all across the city. I took this picture looking out of the tram window as we neared Tin Hau. Hong Kong is one of the world’s most densely populated cities, and a factsheet by the Hong Kong government published in July 2013 stated that at mid-2012, there was an average of 6,620 persons per square kilometre in Hong Kong. Kwun Tong was the most densely populated district, with 56,200 persons per square kilometre.
Hong Kong epitomises a clash of Eastern and Western, modern and traditional. Alongside traditional Chinese food stores selling sliced barbeque pork are global retail chains like Forever21. This photo in Causeway Bay perfectly captures this unique fusion that makes Hong Kong so attractive.
The tram journey ends in Shau Kei Wan, a residential suburb on the eastern coast of Hong Kong Island. Here it is almost 10pm and traditional businesses like pharmacies and opticians have closed, but the night has just begun for food proprietors as locals come out to eat with their families in restaurants and sidewalk canteens, also known as cha chan teng.
About the author: Wan Phing is the Online Editor at AsiaRooms.com. Born and raised in Penang, Malaysia, she has lived in Beijing, London, Benevento, Kuala Lumpur, Manchester and currently resides in Singapore. She loves travel, photography and discovering new trends. Connect with her via email wanphing.lim [at] asiarooms.com, Twitter, and G+.