Victoria Peak & Others - Day 1

by - 17:02

After freshening up in our guesthouse, we found a cafe located nearby where we had wanton noodles for lunch. Hong Kong's wanton noodles are unique in the sense that they contain 2 whole prawns in each wanton.

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Jordan (Wui Cheung Rd) Terminal

We were lucky to had made it just in time before this terminal was demolished to make way for the high speed Guangzhou-Hong Kong rail link. The services which call at this terminal would be shifted further west to a new terminal at To Wah Rd.

This would be one of the many chance sightings with ASU1 during the trip. This Euro IV bus is KMB's first Scania K310UD, and is bodied with a Caetano body. There are only 2 units in active service during our visit, with the other unit deployed on the cross harbour service 104.
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KMB manages their huge fleet of buses by assigning fleet numbers to their buses. The fleet number is located on the lower left hand corner of the windscreen, with a prefix to indicate the specific bus model followed by a serial number. This is necessary as unlike Singapore, the bus operators in Hong Kong do not have a unique prefix to themselves.

ATE178 has a similar Nikon D3000 advertisement to Singapore's version featuring the same female model. Naturally, the Double Deck version looks nicer!
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The main reason for heading to this terminal was to get a ride on a KMB Scania N113DRB, which is basically a double deck version of the Scania N113 which SBS Transit had recently retired in mid-2009. We were quite lucky when the second service 110 bus we saw was our intended target.
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The distance covered wasn't long, but most of the journey time was spent stuck in traffic jams along Canton Road and the entrance to the Central Cross Harbour Tunnel.
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North Point 北角

North Point is one of the 3 major terminals on Hong Kong Island (the other 2 being Shau Kei Wan and Sui Sai Wan). We had originally intended to camp for photos of buses here, but we had underestimated the length of the shadow due to the early sunset in winter, hence ending up with only 1 photo of a Citybus Volvo Olympian bathed in the late afternoon sun. The flyover in the background is the Island Eastern Corridor (IEC), which is built over the sea due to land constraints and offers an express connection between Central and eastern residential estates such as Shau Kei Wan and Chai Wan.
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In order to save time, we decided to take the MTR instead of a bus to Central after that
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Victoria Peak 太平山顶

Victoria Peak is arguably one of Hong Kong's most famous attractions where one can admire Hong Kong's skyscraper skyline from an altitude of about 400m. It was also my first visit to the peak as I had joined the city tour on my previous visits that only brings tourists to the Stubbs Road lookout point at Mid-Levels, where they are promptly fleeced by commissioned photographers.

There are 2 ways to get up to the peak, the first being a ride on service 15 which goes direct to the peak terminus, the other being a ride on service 15C to the lower peak tram terminal at Garden Rd where one transfers to the iconic Peak Tram for the rest of the journey. Both service 15 and 15C are operated by New World First Bus, and depart in front of Central Pier 7.

Central Piers Terminal
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The site of the former Star Ferry Terminal, which was demolished amidst much protest from the local residents as part of Phase III of the Central Reclamation Project.
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Central Pier Building. Central Piers is also where one can catch a ferry to the outlying islands such as Lamma Island and Cheung Chau.
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A number of open top sightseeing buses depart in front of Central Pier 7, such as this Big Bus Dennis Condor. It costs HKD200 per passenger for a day pass. There are apparently plans to replace these buses with Chinese built Ankai double decks.
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New World First Bus also operates a sightseeing service called Rickshaw Bus from the same location. There are 2 routes, and it costs HKD50 for a day pass. However, single trip fares are also available.
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There are 2 buses deployed on service 15C at a frequency of 15mins. Many passengers (us included) would often choose to wait for the converted open top Dennis Condor double deck instead of the other airconditioned single deck Dennis Dart.

Plaxton bodied Dennis Dart awaiting its next departure timing as passengers choose to continue to wait for the open top.
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Converted open top Dennis Condor DA66. The lower deck of the bus is airconditioned, thus the same fares are charged for both the open top and the Dennis Dart.
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Destination signs and notices at the entrance in English, Chinese and even Japanese.
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Open Top "interior" at the lower peak tram terminus, with another Big Bus open top behind.
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Peak Tram

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Loooooooong queues at the lower peak tram terminus. This was despite scheduling our visit on a weekday in a bid to avoid the weekend queues! We spent about 45mins queueing. We were able to "cut" the queue by using our Octopus cards instead to pay the fare.
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The peak tram being mobbed like a superstar upon arrival at the terminus with cameras flashes everywhere.
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Although it was a very short ride up to the peak, the slope encountered was quite an experience with a gradient of up to 27 degrees. Unfortunately, it was already quite dark by then (sunset was at 1740hrs), but it was still interesting to view the Hong Kong skyline at a tilted angle.

Peak Tram at the upper terminus.
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Each carriage can carry 95 passengers seated and 25 standees. The box in front with the buttons is for passengers who wish to alight at one of the 4 intermediate stops. One of the buttons is lit in this picture as we stopped at the last intermediate station before the Peak. Photobucket

View of Hong Kong skyline at night.
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The Peak Tower which houses the upper terminus for the peak tram, as well as shops and eateries.
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An old tram was converted into a Visitor's Centre.
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Christmas decoration adorn one of the houses on the peak.
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NWFB ordered a batch of these specially modified Dennis Tridents which are only 10.3m long and 4.17m tall to allow the bus to handle the demanding terrain and pass under the Mt Kellet Road bridge which has a statutory height limit of only 4m. Due to its stunted appearance, they are also nicknamed "Baby Trident" by many enthusiasts.
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Shau Kei Wan 筲箕湾

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NWFB/Citybus offers a free transfer to service 720 from service 15 to encourage visitors to make use of their services for sightseeing. The 7 prefix (for island services) indicates that it is an express service which makes use of the IEC as described earlier. We wanted to experience a ride on the Neoplan Centroliner, which is often not only heard but its presence is also felt from the outside when it passes by with its loud rumbling roar. Thus, it came as a pleasant surprise that it was very smooth and quiet instead when we rode it!

Shau Kei Wan Ter with 2 parked NWFB Neoplan Centroliners
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Shau Kei Wan is also the eastern terminus for the tram service.
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After having dinner at one of the eateries which were still open along Shau Kei Wan Main Street East(筲箕湾东大街), we headed back to our hotel on service 102 with a crazy bus captain who sped along the Island sector until he bunched up with 2 other buses before the cross harbour tunnel!

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Upper deck interior of the Wright bodied Volvo B9TL, with the characteristic curves of a Wright bodywork.
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Next Post: West Rail Day - Day 2

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