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Trip Report Bus Hop-on, Hop off service in Hong Kong

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DW and I recently concluded a brief trip to Shanghai and HK, and we found the one day we devoted to simply riding around Hong Kong on the Big Bus, double deckers to be the high point of our trip, and something I recommend without hesitation. Yes, I know the hop-on/off services in other locations is more gimmick than value, but in Hong Kong this was a very good service. A ticket includes servaral trips across the harbor in the ferry, one ticket for a day-time pass for the Peak , tram, and one 15-min Sampan ride. it's a full day. Do this the first day you get to town, then the rest of your trip will be more meaningful. Below is an entry I made in a bolg about this experience:

"I obtained tickets for “BigBus,” a local “hop-on, hop-off” double decker bus excursion around town. The bus excursion included a pass for the harbor ferry and a sampan ride. So we found one of the buses and hopped on. They give you little ear buds, which you plugged into a receptacle for a narration and you could choose from one of ten languages, to include Mandarin (designated with a flag of the PRC) and Cantonese(Hong Kong flag), and of course, English (Union Jack). I had never realized how different the two Chinese languages are, but this was subsequently confirmed by many residents of HK we then asked about this, who all confirmed, “yes, travelers from inland China really have a hard time communicating here in HK.” Anyway, the narration was well done and very informative, giving a host of detailed historical information about the colonization of the area, transfer from the UK to the PRC, and even a description of WWII battles with the Japanese.
One of the bus stops is adjacent to the harbor ferry stop, so we hopped off and found our way to the entrance to exchange a voucher for a ferry ticket. As we turned one corner, there was Brianna and her class! So we met her professor and a few fellow students. The ferry boats are about 40 ft vessels and look like they came straight out of a Bogart movie, well over 50 years old, nice wood paneling, old wooden seats, complete with little smokestacks that go “Chugg- chugg –chugg” as they move along. HK harbor is very lovely, surrounded by high hills, modern skyscrapers, and an infinite assortment of watercraft. On the other side, we resumed the BigBus excursion which then took us to the much greener and prettier south side of the island. Hong Kong being in the tropics, the vegetation on the side of the road grows up, over and into the roadway, so let’s say if the frontal area of the bus is n sq ft., then the available space for the bus to pass through the vegetation was less than n-1 sq ft. No matter, the driver just cheerfully barrels the bus into this green tunnel. Also, these roads were very curvy, so the bus would sway from side to side, and the vegetation also swayed back and forth, but not with the same rhythm, so the bus would sway left and the trees sway right, all at 40 mph! The narration frequently warned, with a typically understated British accent, “Passengers on the upper deck may wish to mind the closeness of passing branches which come close to the bus.” Yeah, no kidding, right? I had to duck frequently to avoid an unscheduled 40 mph organic haircut. DW commented it was more thrilling than a theme park ride. We passed by the very lovely areas of Deep Water Bay, Repulse Bay, Stanley, then finally got off in Aberdeen. At Aberdeen, part of the tour was a Sampan ride; the Sampan being the ubiquitous waterborne Jeep of the Orient. About 19x 8 ft., these little boats transport people, cargo, trash, fish, whatever. The BigBusCompany contracted with a few which were cleaned-up and decorated nicely. We had an easy 15 min ride around the harbor, a welcome respite from the tossing, ducking, and swaying of the busride. After the Sampan ride, hungry past lunch time, we then walked around the community of Aberdeen, wanting something other than “typical” Chinese food; we saw an ad for a Thai restaurant, only to find it was closed for some sort of refurbishment. One of the staff people inside suggested a nearby Japanese restaurant, so we went there and acquired some fabulous Sushi and teriyaki dishes. The fish had clearly just been pulled out of the Pacific; inexplicably fresh, so tender, one could almost inhale it. They also served Kirin Ichiban Beer. Nice. Coming out of the restaurant, we got a bit disoriented as all the streets looked like all the other streets, and in the middle of our confusion, along comes another Monsoon rain. So, we got stuck under an awning for about 20 min, and after that found some landmarks which allowed us to return the way we came. We then finished the BigBus ride on the island side, caught the ferry back and finished the Kowloon side, joining DD back in the Hotel."

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