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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Trainspotting in Hong Kong

I consider Hong Kong as an explore-friendly place because of its very efficient transportation system, with its MTR ("Mass Transit Railway" their version of our LRT and MRT) providing an easy mode of taking a person from point A to B and to X with easiness, comfort and minimum delays (with current accuracy rate pegged at 99.9%). Trains would come and go in a span of a few minutes producing a continuous influx and flow of commuters thereby avoiding over crowded situations even during rush hour. 

For the four whole days I had in Hong Kong, I rode the MTR exclusively with one exemption of taking a double deck bus from the Kowloon Food District near Lok Fu station back to Tsim Sha Tsui because I figured walking back to Lok Fu station will take more time and I happen to pass by a bus stop going to Tsim Sha Tsui which is near the harbor.

Other than that singular time, I rode the MTR from point A to anywhere in between. During my first day I got a walking tour map of Hong Kong that shows places of interests found within walking distance of various MTR stations. So I hopped from one train to the next, get off at a random station and would start exploring by feet. 

I was glad I did that because I ended up on many parts of Hong Kong, from the small temples I came across with after alighting off Shau Kei Wan station to the food orgy along a row of streets in Kowloon to the Tang Dynasty inspired Nan Lian Garden in Diamond Hill station, then heading out to see the iconic towers of HSBC and Bank of China near Central and Admiralty station, to the ferry terminal to Macau near Sheung Wan station plus a few other routes. 

Hong Kong has currently 10 MTR rapid transit lines, including the Disneyland Express that caters to around 3.9 million passengers each day and 85 stations located at all major residential, commercial, shopping and eating areas around Hong Kong.  Aside from the MTR system, Hong Kong also have the light rail system that operates 12 lines and 68 stations making commuting in Hong Kong a walk in the ball park. MTR stations are set up with air conditioning, different exits and malls, that increases your chances of finding everything you needed at every station stop. Who knows you might meet the person you'll say "Honey I'm home" to every night at a chance encounter at one of these train rides.

Adult fares ranges from HK$ 4.00-HK$20.00 per single journey ticket depending on the distance.  Express Tourist Octopus card are also sold and is an ideal ticket for tourists as it offers a three day unlimited ride for about HK$ 150.00. I opted for the single journey tickets since when I calculated ahead my MTR journeys I only came up with less than a hundred HK dollars for all the single journey tickets I will use.

Doing all those trainspotting I was also able to catch a glimpse of the daily lives of Hong Kong citizens, expats and even the Filipinos working there. It is almost similar to us with everybody talking about mundane things while others had their work face on, dressed up neatly for work, tourists like me with maps on their hands and looking at the digital display of the MRT map stations. Students going to school and the likes brings a bustling activity for everyone involved and riding the train is almost a part of everyone's daily lives.

A design on the train makes it possible for the wind to brush strongly across your face when it gathers speed. I felt it as it speeds up and the sight of a crowded train filled with faces of strangers with others beaming with delight while some are rocked focused on conversations, lovers holding hands staring at each other and a toddler crying in the background. That particular moment we rode like one, almost flying over the tracks unto the next destination.

I've taken probably a thousand train rides in my life courtesy of the LRT and MRT back here at home. However, I also cannot deny the certain edge that the MTR of Hong Kong had over our own. First it is highly effective, with the arrivals of trains almost to the dot, convenient, fast paced, strategically located and reasonably priced. It reminds me the long arduous path, our transportation system has to go but it gives me hope and excitement that those are within our reach someday, if we could follow a consistent line to progress backed up by a tenacity to succeed.

My trainspotting experience in Hong Kong was among the many reasons why I was able to see a lot about the place. It took me where I want to go in no time and took me back when I wanted to rest and call it a night. Walking from subway to subway, hopping from train to train, getting off one station to the next and setting off to another place was as easy as ABC.

Hong Kong series:

1. The Arrival - a 'hiccup' at the HK immigration
2. Temples, Shrines & Monasteries - tucked between a bustling HK are some pockets of temples and other places of faith
3. The Big Buddha Upstairs - say hello to my friend.
4. Hong Kong Food Trip - delight in the many food offerings of HK
5. Taiji in Tai O, Lantau Island - visit this place in HK that provides a simple countryside setting
6. High Rise Act - towering skyscrapers of HK
7. Hong Kong Action Heroes - Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Samo Hung, Chow Yun Fat


Cedric said...

I developed my love of trainspotting years ago in Hong Kong. :) I can't wait to go back there again later this year and ride the MTR.

Pinay Travel Junkie said...

We didn't get an Octopus card too, at the time available yung Airport Express card. We chose the latter. It came with discounts on admission fees of tourist attractions. And it was good for 3 days, the whole duration of our trip!

Cai said...

Me too!! I love trainspotting in HK. I have my Octopus card pa with me from my first HK visit. Sulit kung pabalik balik ka sa HK haha, excited ako to go back rin!

Ganda ng last shot Marky!

lakwatsera de primera said...

Wish our own transport system was as efficient as HK and Singapore, there would be less traffic and it would be easier for commuters and tourists to navigate Manila.

tina said...

I love HKs MTR npk-convenient :D that is the reason why kinaya nmen mg-DIY travel in HK :)

Hopefully mgkaroon din tayo ng ganyang system :D

Markyramone said...

akin na lng mga Octopus card ninyo hehe. Yeah I wish the same thing too, there's lots of plans about building additional LRT/MRT lines here but all are shelved because of questionable contracts which goes back again to problem of corruption tsk tsk

Roy said...

Love that you explore a city by train! :) I think it's the best way to see everything, especially if it is so well organized.

Manech said...

Since I'm on a tight budget, I'd do that here in Manila. Haha.

I want to try a really old train though, the one that goes to Bicol. I think I'd be a completely different experience than my everyday MRT commute.

thepinaysolobackpacker said...

interesting! i love train rides! wanna try that too nxt time! love the last pic too,pero bumili ka na ng tripod marky! hehe

Markyramone said...

@Roy - yeah it was so efficient, the Hong Kong MTR. Hope we can have the same efficient rating here with our LRT/MRT in Manila

@Manech - I wanna try that PNR to Naga as well

@Gael - bilin ko na lng tripod mo 400 pesos hahaha. I'm looking for a cheap tripod na ren

kill3rfill3r said...

Kaya ko rin na-enjoy ang HK trip namin dahil sa ontime at mabilis na MTR nila. Mukhang mangyayari na rin yan sa atin http://bit.ly/jVSWCd

Markyramone said...

That's good news, the Malolos LRT extension I think was delayed coz of the questionable contract. Hope they proceed with a new bidding for it again.

Bunnz Victoria said...

Reading this blog and taking a glimpse of your photos I think the MTR is likely the same as the SG MRT, I'm getting excited to go to HK it'll be this coming Sept. and wish my ride will be as easy like my SG joy ride ^_^

btw, the comment thread is also informative. thanks to this site.

Markyramone said...

Yes bunz, the MTR of HK reminds me of that of Singapore and also of Kuala Lumpur...though HK and SG are tops so far.

Christian | Lakad Pilipinas said...

Tumutugtog sa utak ko yung intro ng lust for life habang tinitignan mga pics mo hehe

ayan said...

thats one nice looking photo you got at the end..
pop out yon red shirt dun sa pale color nun surroundings..

Markyramone said...

@Christian - yeah one of my favorite song ren napapa kanta ako nun pag natakbo ako haha....

@Ayan - onga the effect of the red shirt was highlighted by the almost plain surroundings.

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