Subway Observations and the Hot Neon Wilderness

I’ve been riding subways in a few different cities this summer, and Hong Kong seems to have the nicest. Even the escalators seem considerably faster than others. To illustrate, a few points about other city transit systems I’ve noticed in the last few months:

The Washington D.C. metro has carpeted floors and crowded seats facing in the same direction. In NYC passengers face each other, but the aisle is very wide, no carpet, and the trains have easy-to-read digital signage. In Barcelona, the seats face each other like a booth without a table, with an aisle between two rows. And there are butt rests near the doors, no carpet, and digital signs. London is like NYC with everyone facing each other, but the seats are padded, each seat has an armrest, and the aisle is very narrow. Hong Kong is like New York, but there is a clear wall/panel between the platform and the tracks, which opens when a train arrives.

The sight of the Hong Kong skyline from the air excites the senses and cured my jet lag, and sent me out into the streets with my camera almost as soon as I arrived. From my hotel, I took the subway from Jordan station to Central station, where the HSBC building designed by I.M. Pei towers over the exit, and the Peak Tram is a short walk away. Taking the Peak Tram to Victoria Peak is touted by all tourist guides as the top attraction in the city, and for good reason. The view speaks for itself:
Victoria View
In a city of so many fantastic buildings, there are also many great vantage points to see them from. The promenade along Tsim Sha Tsui, also the Hong Kong’s “walk of the stars” is one of these, and provides a great point for looking out across the water at the skyline, or fawning over the handprints of your favorite Hong Kong film star (doesn’t everyone have one?)

Seeing the names of Asian celebrities I’d never heard of made me wonder if the Chinese think Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp are just regular people like me. Flattering, but not true, because they are rich, and cash transcends language. On Hong Kong’s “Walk of the Stars,” however, it is okay to pretend.
A quick note about the heat in Hong Kong: it is very hot. Hot enough that I am amazed anyone was able to get out of bed in the morning and build all these towers. The humidity is such that photographers are faced with foggy lenses when first emerging from the subway, and several dozen minutes thereafter. People carry umbrellas for sun protection, though the sun isn’t as bright as the air is wet. Possibly the umbrellas are used to shield the holders from sweat dripping off all the other pedestrians.

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