Monday, April 16, 2012

2012 HK Trip - Knowing Hong Kong through MTR Stations Part 1

Location: S.A.R. Hong Kong, China

In my humble opinion, there are no better way to know Hong Kong than these 2 methods - watching Hong Kong drama and travelling by MTR. Yes, it's MTR (Mass Transit Railway), not MRT (Mass Rapid Transit), although it stands for the same transportation method.

It was during my study of Hong Kong's locations that I started to understand the layout of this foreign land. In general, the region is divided into 3 geographical districts, with each of them listed below. I have the opportunity to plan my trip to coincide with at least one of the district and leave with a shot of the MTR stations there.

Hong Kong's MTR map and route. Click on the image for a larger view (image obtained from Hong Kong Planner).

The region of Hong Kong is categorized into 18 districts, with them grouped under 3 different territories. The largest territory will be the New Territories, with Kowloon and Hong Kong Island holding environments which are familiar to us through TV dramas and movies (image obtained from Wikipedia).

Hong Kong Island (香港島)

Traditional Chinese: 香港島 (this is what one will see in Hong Kong)
Simplified Chinese: 香港岛 (this will not be seen in Hong Kong, only in Mainland China)
Cantonese Jyutping: hoeng1 gong2 dou2
Pin Yin: Xiāng Gǎng Dǎo
Pronounced as: hiong gong dou

This is the Hong Kong - there is even an MTR station named as Hong Kong station there. The important financial districts with their skyscraping towers and ever busy business associates from every corner of the world could not be less obvious in this island. This is where the locals refer to as "island-side".

The MTR stations of Hong Kong island are decorated with their names painted in Traditional Chinese calligraphy, making them the more artfully done stations compared to the rest. I only managed to travel from Sheung Wan to Wan Chai, never going beyond that, but I managed to snap a few shots of the painted names.

Sheung Wan
Traditional Chinese: 
Cantonese Jyutping:
 ssoeng6 waan4
Pin Yin: 
Shàng Huán
Pronounced as: shiong wan

Literally meaning "Upper District", Sheung Wan is one of the areas under the Central and Western district (
中西區) and is home to the western terminus of the MTR line here. Here lies a port favored by travelers to Macau and Outlying Islands, with the other one in Kowloon. Travelers are suggested to explore the area by trams which extend far beyond this terminus, offering a means to view the city through the eyes of more traditional transportation.

Chances are that this is the Hong Kong which everyone is familiar with from all those dramas and movies showing the rich side of the region. Watch The Dark Knight and one will recognize the International Finance Centre, Hong Kong's tallest building. 

In fact this side of Hong Kong owns the highest population density of the whole region, and the median household income is the highest for those living along the northern shores. Expensive shopping malls dotted the region, catering to every luxurious wants of visiting foreigners.

Traditional Chinese:
Cantonese Jyutping: zung1 waan4
Pin Yin: Zhōng Huán
Pronounced as: zhong wan

Experience the sky reaching towers dotting the land of Central, where luxurious shopping and business districts awaits. Also the location for the Peak Tram to reach the highest point of the island.

Despite the depiction of skyscrapers and luxurious shopping malls, the southern half of the island is the opposite of that. Being the home to a floating restaurant, country parks and the famed Ocean Park, the South China Sea facing district is a stark contrast of the northern half and is definitely an off the beaten path for travelers.

More reading is available here for Hong Kong island:

Environment:         Transportation hub
Suitable for:           As a popular means of transportation, the MTR stations allow the traveler to see people from different walks of life and the way they interact with each other. A definite way to see Hong Kong.

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