I awakened to my mobile phone’s alarm, Grieg’s ‘Morning’ from ‘Peer Gynt’. Instead of observing dawn’s early light striking green fields littered with black and white cows jingling oversized cowbells, with The Matterhorn looming behind, a more…urban landscape greeted me, a scene reminiscent of a Ridley Scott film. I jumped out of bed, set up my camera and hit the record button. Day 2 has begun.
After a breakfast feast (loved the local/western cuisine options), I hailed a red urban taxi. My first destination, a car park. But not ‘just’ a car park; one with a view. And what a view it is! 15 minutes later, I arrived at ‘Harbour City’ in Tsim Sha Tsui, making my way to the top of the ‘Ocean Terminal’ car park.
I set up the camera on the tripod and proceeded to capture the iconic views of Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong Island. The weather was PERFECT! The harbour was quite active, with various boats / ships / ferries hauling passengers and cargo.
The numerous and famous Star Ferries were busy crisscrossing the harbour, an experience every visitor to Hong Kong owes to him / herself. Once satisfied with the amount of footage captured, it was time to move on to my next filming location.
Hong Kong is known for its world class hotels. While doing research for the travel video, I wanted to find and film a hotel that would be the prime example of hotel standards in the territory, a hotel that has a history tied to Hong Kong, a local landmark. There is one such hotel that shines above others. The Grande Dame of the Far East, The Peninsula.
One cannot simply stroll into The Peninsula Hong Kong, set up a tripod with a professional looking camera and film away. During my travel video prep, I contacted The Peninsula (as well as several other notable local landmarks / establishments such as The Peak Tower, The Hong Kong Jockey Club etc…), requesting their permission to film on their private premises. Happily, they’ve granted permission to include footage within the hotel grounds in the video.
The Peninsula is a VERY luxurious hotel, where guests may use the hotel ‘shuttle service’, a fleet of green Rolls Royce Phantoms. The hotel is also known for its afternoon tea serving which includes a multi-level platter of mouth watering pastries / desserts as well as…tea.
Luckily, you do not have to be a hotel guest to enjoy their afternoon tea and the hotel’s various restaurants. On that note, I HIGHLY recommend their very popular buffet restaurant, ‘The Verandah’. One needs two stomachs to try all the offerings.
Hong Kong has several viewing points that enables one to truly be in awe of it. Most of the territories’ visitors are aware of Victoria Peak and its grand views. Access to the Peak is easy, with multiple options to get there and it is no surprise that it is the most popular attraction for visitors to Hong Kong.
But, there are others, less known to visitors but very well known to the locals. One of the best of those viewpoints is at the top of the Lion Rock, a 495 meter ‘mountain’ between Kowloon and the New Territories.
To get to the Lion Rock viewpoint, you are required to hike. During my research period as well as conversations with locals, I have surmised that the hike is a challenging one and that it is easy to ‘get lost’ / hard to find the beginning of the trail.
As mentioned, it was a beautiful day. By the time I was ready to attempt the hike, It was hot as well. I also carried a tripod and a 15+ kg backpack. Although I was in good shape and enjoy hiking, I knew that I was in for a challenge but I figured that the footage captured from the top of Lion Rock would be worth the effort.
The hike did NOT go as planned. The hiking trail I took turned out to be the wrong one. An hour into it, with increasing difficulty to the point where I was convinced that there was NO way that a popular hike would be THAT difficult to navigate. I finally turned back.
When I returned to the beginning of the wrong trail, I figured out my mistake and did manage to find the starting point of the correct trail. However, I decided to skip the hike due to the heat, my exhaustion and the time it would take me to hike up to the top and then back down. Unfortunately, I was never able to find the time to attempt the hike on another day. However, if anyone has half a day to spare and enjoys a good hike, I would recommend it.
Unfortunately, this was not the only setback of the day. I was scheduled to film at a popular location in Hong Kong. When I got there, it was apparent that there was a misunderstanding and that I wasn’t allowed to film there until I re-submitted a request through proper channels. 5 months since my visit, I’m still waiting on that request to go through…
Needless to say, I was NOT happy with these two setbacks but I had a schedule to keep and several more locations to film that were important to capture.
A short taxi ride brought me to the Kowloon Walled City Park, built over the demolished remains of the infamous Kowloon Walled City. The traditional Chinese park is a lovely spot to spend a couple of hours of strolling, relaxing or simply people watching. There are several exhibits and remains of the former walled city as well. It wasn’t very busy when I was there. The atmosphere was that of a local neighborhood park and not nearly as busy as the major parks on the northern part of Hong Kong Island.
One of the more memorable events I have experienced during my previous visit to Hong Kong in 1996 was the landing at Hong Kong’s former international airport at Kai Tak. On final approach, the plane literally glided between buildings. A slight miscalculation would cause the plane to either hit a person’s balcony or end up in Victoria Harbour due to the runway path. It was a landing like none other.
These days, the former airport runway land has been redeveloped into the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal. The terminal is MASSIVE (almost 1 kilometer in length) and is capable of hosting the worlds’ largest cruise ships. Kai Tak Runway Park is located south of the terminal, a pleasant park which provides the casual stroller or jogger with magnificent views of Victoria Harbour. Late afternoon, towards sunset, is a great time to visit.
I have no doubt that when a cruise ship docks at the terminal, the place is hopping with activity. However, when I was there, the place was practically abandoned. It was eerie, yet kind of cool, walking along the terminal’s outer balcony / walkway and literally having the place to myself.
Unfortunately, on the day of my visit to the cruise terminal, there were no scheduled ferries running between Kai Tak and Hong Kong Island. So, I had to take a taxi to the closest ferry terminal which was at the Kwun Tong Ferry Pier. From there, I boarded a ferry that took me to the North Point Ferry Pier. The sunset views while traversing Victoria Harbour were splendid!
Hong Kong is known to have some of the best restaurants and bars on the planet. Some of them are situated in buildings where the view from the window is spectacular. Some have their own private balcony / terrace. As with The Peninsula hotel, which I have filmed earlier that day, I wanted to film a restaurant / bar which had the reputation and status of a local landmark. I was fortunate to have been granted filming access at ‘Sevva’, a posh rooftop bar in Central, providing some of the finest views in all of Hong Kong.
If there was one word I would use to describe ‘Sevva’, it would be ‘CLASS’. It is THE quintessential rooftop bar. With some fine Jazz music playing in the background and well-dressed patrons, it is the perfect spot for an evening of good food, drinks and conversation with friends or friendly strangers.
After an evening well spent and filmed at ‘Sevva’, I engaged in some night filming around Central. Although not nearly as busy as during the day, there was still a considerable presence of people in the area.
I decided to return to the hotel using the MTR. By the time I got back to my room, I was exhausted. Another successful and adventurous day in Hong Kong came to an end.