Hong Kong Central is famous for its business areas but it also has some things that are fun for tourists. Besides the well known Peak Tram, some lesser known places can be visited for free. I’m talking about the observation deck at the Bank of China, St. John’s Cathedral and the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens. They will change the idea you previously might have had, of what the Central District is all about.
If you are going to Central from the Kowloon side of Hong Kong, it’s a great idea to take the Star Ferry to cross Victoria Harbour. This ferry service has more then a 100 year history and is priced ridiculously cheap at 2.50 HKD for an upper deck seat. As if this isn’t cheap enough, the day I went it turned out to be Free Ferry Ride Day. This opportunity to cross the harbour for free, on the two different routes that the Star Ferry provides, made the boats a little crowded. It did kick my day off pretty well since it would consist out of doing free activities.
This building has been one of the signature buildings of Hong Kong’s skyline for a long time. It is 370 metres high with 70 stories and has an observation deck on the 43rd floor. Currently it’s the 4th tallest building in Hong Kong. The building was completed in 1990 but still looks quite futuristic and isn’t the kind of building you’ll see everyday. It kind of looks like an over sized Rubiks puzzle. Be sure to bring your passport if you want to go up to the observation deck, because you’ll need it to be allowed in.
The observation deck is overlooking the north western side of Hong Kong Island and also Kowloon. Because there are so many high buildings around it, the view is a little bit limited. The St. John’s Cathedral and Botanical Gardens can also be seen, so I could already figure out how to walk there. Because the wind was blowing right at this side, and because today was a windy day, it was a bit noisy up there. It makes you feel for the guys who have to clean the windows on the outside all day.
The observation deck gives a great view of the two tallest buildings of Hong Kong, IFC and the ICC. Other then that, there was this cool looking model showing what the area around the Bank of China Tower looked like in 1990. It’s too bad that the observation deck isn’t on one of the top floors but entrance is free here so you can’t really complain too much I guess. Always nice to see the Hong Kong skyline from a new angle.
The walk from the Bank of China to St. John’s Cathedral is a very pleasant one, because there is a little park between them and a waterfall area. Business men and women can be found here, escaping their office jobs by taking a little break in this relaxing environment. The sound of a waterfall always seems to have a relaxing effect for some reason.
Amidst all of the many tall and modern buildings, St. John’s Cathedral can be found. It has been here for more then 150 years and was one of the very first buildings in this area. In today’s time, it looks a little out of place in this part of Hong Kong. The cathedral has survived the second world war and has seen many skyscrapers come and go. It was built in honor of the Anglicanism belief, which is another name for the English Church.
The building has been declared a monument and is cherished by the Hong Kong community. This explains why it’s still in such a good condition to this day. The cathedral looks from the outside like it’s just been built yesterday. There are still many ceremonies being held here, all throughout the week.
The church is open for everybody, outside of ceremony hours, and is free of entrance. At most times, people can be found inside, doing some prayers. It’s hard to realize that this is still Hong Kong Central when sitting inside the church, enjoying its quiet and peaceful nature. It’s only a relatively small cathedral so it doesn’t take long to see all of it.
Hong Kong has a very active Leisure and Cultural Services Department. They are in charge of providing quality leisure and cultural services. The LCSD is responsible for many of Hong Kong’s parks and aims to offer several free activities of high quality for its residents and other people residing in the city. The Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens are one of their initiatives and is, unsurprisingly, free of entrance. It has an aviary, a couple of fountains, a little zoo and some exotic plants and trees.
I have been to the mountain areas of Hong Kong, where supposedly monkeys are living, but I never saw any of them before. Now I could see some monkeys in the Zoological here, but it wasn’t as much fun. The cages were too small in my opinion and it was sad to see them swinging in there.
Just like in Hong Kong Park, which is very close to here, there is an aviary with a wide variety of birds. I would have liked to make some pictures and show what it was like but my camera died at this point, unfortunately. It came up with incomprehensible messages on the display and photos turned out to be too dark, even with the brightness set to full. The camera still lasted for almost 2 months in extreme heat though, after about 1500 photos total. Not all that bad for a 60 euro camera. Now I have to find a new one in Hong Kong but luckily for me, camera shops aren’t hard to find around here.
The day started off quite nice and cheap with my free ferry ride and remained costless throughout the other activities. None of things I went to, are places where you will spend many hours but all of them combined make for an entertaining afternoon. All of the activities were very different from each other which made it more fun. Not a dime was spent the whole day but apparently fate had to strike, saddling me up with some camera expenses.