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Asia’s World City- A Successful Leap in Tourism and Hospitality.

The region has long been a thriving hub, but it’s still looking to the future, says Tom Peck

Hong KongWhen Batman flew by helicopter over Hong Kong harbour five years ago, he made minor movie history. Film aficionados will know that the scene from The Dark Knight was the first in a major feature film to be shot with an IMAX camera. The director, Christopher Nolan, chose it for one reason – the pictures it captures are simply enormous.

It was a wise decision. A single glance doesn’t really do Hong Kong’s iconic panorama justice, but by taking to the skies, the Caped Crusader was being a bit of a wimp. In 1881, a Scottish railwayman called Alexander Findlay Smith became convinced of the possibility of building a funicular railway up the impossibly steep Victoria Peak, the island’s highest mountain. Now, his engineering is Hong Kong’s most popular attraction.

The Peak Tram, as it has become known, has its Lower Terminus on Garden Road (00 852 2522 0922; thepeak.com.hk/en; return HK$40/£3.50). It takes around five minutes to travel the 1,400 metres to the top, gaining more than 400 metres in height as it does so. Suddenly, the entire city spreads out before you like a tablecloth thrown over the earth.

Rows of gleaming metal towers shoot from beside the calm waters of the harbour up to the rolling forested hills – indeed it’s the kind of vista that does demand an IMAX lens to take it in.

After experiencing this overview, take the tram back down and from the terminus in Central – Hong Kong’s glistening business district – head up Garden Road until you reach the Bank of China Tower whose triangular glass panels make it stand out from the crowd. This is Downtown – the belly of the beast, but its historical centre too. Turn left on to Queens Road Central, left again on to D’Aguilar Street, and then take your first right on to Stanley Street. The sound of greedy slurping indicates your arrival in one of the last vestiges of Hong Kong’s once thriving street food scene. Not so long ago, you’d find hundreds of dai pai dong in Hong Kong, but today only 28 official open-air food stalls remain.

The words translate as “big licence”; after the Second World War, special street food licences – with larger badges than usual – were given out in haste to the struggling families of deceased soldiers or civil servants so that they could earn a living. But almost all have since fallen victim to air-conditioned progress. However, several stalls serve authentic dim sum, which roughly means “a little bit from the heart”. Sing Kee, at Nos 9 & 10 is the busiest, and with good reason. The service is a little brisk, but the food is authentic. Cuttlefish is popular, as are fish-skin dumplings. There’s also eggs with shrimp for the less adventurous.

Carry on west to where Stanley Street crosses Cochrane Street and take the Mid-Levels Escalator up to Hollywood Road, right at the top. These 800-metre-long, covered escalators, opened in 1993, are now an important commuter route which tackles Hong Kong’s hilly terrain and bustling traffic. From 6am to 10am, they run downhill, after which point they are switched in the other direction.

 
Source form : independent.co.uk
Picture source : en.wikipedia.org

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