Around 11 am we left the ship with our tablemates, Rick and Margaret, to head out to Stanley Market for some sightseeing and shopping. Stanley market is on Hong Kong island, across Victoria Harbor and then about 12 miles down a winding road past Repulse Bay. We decided to take public transportation since we had the time and wanted to check out how the system worked.
Once again we walked thru Harbour Place, down to the promenade and over to the Star Ferry Terminal. There are three Star Ferry Terminals: Central, Tsim Sha Tsui and Wan Chai. Tsim Sha Tsui is the only terminal on the Kowloon side and Central is the terminal most used by tourists on the Hong Kong Side. The Star Ferry terminal on the Kowloon side (Tsim Sha Tsui) has different piers for ferries going to Central and to Wan Chai. It is important to follow the Star Ferry signs for your correct destination – most likely Central, if you are leaving from Kowloon, or Tsim Sha Tsui if you are leaving from Hong Kong. You will also have a choice of whether to travel on the ferries upper or lower deck – the upper deck is seasonally air conditioned and costs 50 cents HK more (only 6 cents USD). The signs leading to the loading platforms will be marked “Upper” or “Lower” in addition to the name of your destination terminal, so be sure to head to the platform appropriate for you deck preference.
There are several ways you can pay your ferry fare which will be $2.00 HK for the lower deck or $2.50 HK for the upper deck. (The price is different on weekends and holidays.) The simplest way is to buy a token with coins at one of the machines near the turnstiles. Follow the directions that are posted on the machine in English. The machine only takes coins, but does make change and you can buy more than one token at the same time. Once you have your token, put it into the turnstile and follow the signs to the ferry. There are ways you can buy an Oyster Card which will allow you to ride buses and the MTR, in addition to paying for you ferry, but please read other resources if you are interested in learning more about those options. The Oyster Card is seems to be similar to the system they have in the UK so if you are familiar with that one, you will probably be right at home here.
We ended up on the lower deck because we didn’t know there was an upper deck option till after we boarded and learned more about the differences. After a short ferry ride, maybe 10 minutes, we arrived at the Central Terminal and headed up to the second floor and walked about ¼ mile on a pedestrian bridge until it ended and then went down to the street and into the a building called One Exchange Square where we found the bus stand for bus number 260 – the express bus to Stanley Market. The fare to Stanley Market was $10.60 HK which is listed on the route information sign that also marks the bus stop location. Bus number 6 also goes to Stanley Market, but while a little cheaper, is the local and stops more frequently, but you get there eventually.
While walking across the pedestrian bridge we saw a huge Apple logo on a nearby building and we could see people scurrying about inside one of the largest Apple stores I ever came across. We would stop there later.
Fifteen minutes later a very modern double decker bus arrives and we board, putting our fare into a box near the driver. You don’t need exact change, but they don’t make change, if you only have a $20 HK bill and the fare is $10.60 HK, then you can put $20 HK in the fare box and consider the $9.40 HK a donation to the Hong Kong transit system. The fare box is simply a box with a slot – no need to feed your paper bills or coins into any machine or reader or wait for him to acknowledge your fare deposit. Simply put your money in the box and keep moving. The driver will say something if something isn’t right, otherwise keep moving and find a seat. Head to the upper deck if you want a better view.
Once you are on your way, the busses next stop is announced by a recorded voice in English and shown on a sign next to the driver. When your stop is next, press one of the nearby “stop” buttons to alert the driver that you want off at the next stop. This is where the MAPS.ME app helps a lot as you can track your progress on your phone – again no internet or cell service required – and make sure you don’t overshoot your stop.
Thirty-five minutes after later we arrived at Stanley Market. The bus followed the waterfront and we had some great views of Repulse Bay along the way. If you wanted to get off, you could do so, and wait 20 minutes or so for the next bus. You would have to pay again, but when full fare is only $1.35 USD, you can splurge a little. The fare is also less the closer you get to Stanley Market so if you do get off, check out the bus stop sign for the exact fare required.
Stanley Market is a relatively small area right next to Stanley Bay and you could probably walk up and down every street in less than 20 minutes if you didn’t stop to do any shopping. While the shops are on “streets”, they are really more like wide sidewalks and automobiles are prohibited. There is a wide variety of shops but the big categories are clothing, particularly cashmere, electronics, Chinese garments, T shirts, souvenirs and general Knick-knacks. The market was busy, but not crowded and you didn’t have to fight your way thru any crowds. When you were in a store, there was usually never more than 2 or 3 other people. We wandered thru all the streets with shops and stopped in 5 or 6 in about 90 minutes. We picked up a few souvenir keychains, some pashminas and cashmere scarves. There was much to choose from and the prices were great – a nice cashmere sweater was marked for $27 USD – and that is before you start to bargain. After we were finished shopping we were ready to head up to Victoria Peak but since Rick and Margaret had already been to Victoria Peak, they elected to stay in Stanley Market.
We were now a little pressed for time so we summoned an UberTaxi since there were no ordinary Uber cars available. You request an Uber Taxi the same way as any other Uber but the difference is that you are calling an actual taxi – the red ones you see everywhere. Certain taxi drivers have chosen to work with Uber and can so they can tap into to a larger customer base and accept credit cards. Ordinary Hong Kong Taxis only take cash. Our driver arrived in 10 minutes and his car looked like an airplane cockpit with 3 different phones mounted on the dash, each working with a different dispatch service. This guy was definitely working hard to maximize his business. With Uber taxi, the driver runs the meter, as normal, but at the end of the ride, he enters the fare into his UBER app, your UBER account is charged and he gets reimbursed by UBER later. No money changes hands.
Victoria Peak is a little village with a couple of pretty good size shopping malls and a modern building, that looks like an anvil, that is home to the Victoria Peak Tram with a viewing platform on the roof. There isn’t much of a view from street level here and we learned that the nearest view point was a 20 minute walk or a $48 HK escalator ride to the top of the Victoria Peak Tram Building. We opted for the escalator ride to the top of the building and in a few minutes we were rewarded with absolutely stunning views of Hong Kong and Kowloon. Visibility today was at least 20 miles and the haze was present, but not too bad. We spent about 30 minutes soaking in the view before heading down to catch the Victoria Peak Tram back down the mountain. The tram only takes cash so we needed to visit an ATM in the shopping center before we could pay for our ticket. There wasn’t any line for the tram going down, but to our surprise, the line going up was and least 200 yards long. Taking a taxi or bus to the top of Victoria Peak and then taking the tram down would probably be the way to go to avoid the longer line going up.
Once off the tram we were planning to take a taxi or Uber back to the Ocean Terminal, but we were surprised to see a bus pole labeled 15C Star Ferry Central right outside the tram entrance. The bus was just pulling up so we hopped on and were on our way. The fare was something like $3.40 pp, and the smallest I had was a $10 HK bill, so I shoved the $10 into the fare box for both of us and we took our seats. $10HK is about $1.25 US so I wasn’t going to complain about overpaying a little bit for a 1 mile or so bus ride.
One of our IPhone charging cables quit working so we wanted to stop at the Apple Store we saw earlier and get a new one. We used our familiar MAPS.ME app to locate the Apple Store along with a nearby street so we could press the stop button at the appropriate time. It was now 6:00 pm and with an all aboard of 7pm. We didn’t have a lot of time to shop so we bought our cable and headed back to the pedestrian bridge and down to the Star Ferry Terminal. By 6:30 we were back on the Kowloon side and went thru the nearest 7-11 to exchange our last remaining Hong Kong dollars for Snickers Bars and other odds and ends. 15 Cents was all that remained of our Hong Kong Dollars as we headed back thru Harbour Mall to the ship.
Embedded into the tile of the hallway in Harbour Place leading to the ship are a series of silver metal plates, about 18 inches across, that mark the path back to the ship. We hadn’t noticed these previously on our earlier walks thru the terminal.
Kate Ross, one of the new lecturers, joined our table for dinner and she will be with us until Dubai. One of our other tablemates got to know her thru Cruise Critic before we left and prearranged her arrival at our table. Another reason to participate in roll calls is that you may find interesting dinner companions in advance and as we all know, having great dinner companions can make any cruise more enjoyable. We had a wonderful time getting to know each other and we’re looking forward to many more conversations with her over the next few weeks. After another wonderful dinner, we all posed for our Table 52 tradition – the Jazz Hands photo – and we will add it to our collection.
Sail Away was in the Crow’s Nest at 9pm, there were about 100 people still in attendance when I wandered thru around 9:30. The waiters were passing around grilled duck pot stickers which were pretty good. I didn’t stay long and was soon off to the Queens Lounge to see flautist Clare Langan’s 10:00 pm encore show.
Clare opened her show by explaining the correct pronunciation of her title – Flautist. She humorously went thru a long list of various names she has been called over the years including Flutist, Fluteter, Flirtist or Florist. Her show was fantastic and the crowd enjoyed her performance of a variety of songs once again.
Returning to our cabin we discovered our 5th “pillow gift” of the cruise. You can find them all by looking under the World Cruise Reference tab. You will also find copies of the Cruise Logs and other items future cruisers may find interesting.
Tomorrow is a sea day and then we will arrive in Da Nang where we will leave the ship for our independent overnight adventure to Hue and Hoi An.
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