More getting about in Hong Kong

I’ve previously written about using the MTR to get around and it’s superiority over the Tube in London. I also mentioned at the time that buses are ridiculously good value for money also, and that the flat screen televisions in them wouldn’t last a day in the UK either. As a result of having a good public transport system very few people who live on Hong Kong Island, or indeed over the harbour in Kowloon, will own a car. I suspect another reason for this is that driving here would quickly induce a case of post-traumatic stress syndrome. I’m not convinced there is actually a system for lane discipline here, and the taxis change lanes as randomly as the cars did in TCR. (And if you can remember what TCR is you’re showing your age – bonus point available if you know what it stands for without looking up google)

Despite the rather random nature of the taxis I’ve not yet been in, or seen a crash. Fortunately, round the city there’s no chance of building up sufficient speed to have a serious crash. Taxi costs are very reasonable compared to back home as well. In the UK I’m used to being charged at least £2 just for stepping into the taxi, and then the meter seems to tick over stupidly quickly so that the cost of my short taxi trip begins to resemble a small country’s GDP. I find it pretty offensive that a trip from the train station to my flat can cost £5 or so. Hong Kong taxis still have a minimum fee and the meter does seem to increase fairly rapidly as well. However, with the exchange rate being HK$15 to £1 then even a taxi ride of  HK$60 is pretty cheap. In fact, I’ve taken a taxi back from Kowloon to North Point and it’s been less than HK$60. And this is late at night/early morning when let’s face it UK taxis move to their rip off premium rates. And the taxis are air-conditioned. (No Octopus though)

Of course there are other options for the cheapskates to get around Hong Kong: the tram system, the ferries across the harbour and to other outyling islands, and of course, Shanks’s Pony. The trams have the benefit of being a massive HK$2 for any trip. That’s 15p. 15p for a trip anywhere on the north side of Hong Kong island is excellent value for money. Of course, there is a drawback to this method of transport. There’s no air conditioning. I can’t stress enough how important this is. As a result, everybody tries to get upstairs so that they can hang out the windows of the tram to try and remain as cool as possible. It’s also slow, has many stops, and has to stop at traffic lights and other road obstacles – if you were in a hurry to be somewhere catching a tram would certainly not be your first thought. Speed is not helped by cars blocking the lane the tram tries to take – strangely not BMW drivers; probably because I haven’t seen many BMWs over here. (Again, Octopus cards accepted) There’s probably a higher probability of finding local crazies on the tram rather than the bus as seems preferred in the UK.

The Star Ferry is a Hong Kong institution, by which I think they mean it’s old – I guess the trams qualify by this rule as well. However, taking the ferry is a great way of seeing the harbour which is normally quite busy. Once again it’s cheap too – HK$2 takes you from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui. Also not air conditioned.

One Response to “More getting about in Hong Kong”

  1. Stuart Says:

    Total control racing! 😛

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