Get close and personal with the “stars” in Hong Kong.
By NG SU-ANN
At The Peak Tower in Hong Kong, one can do all sorts of stargazing, be it looking at those celestial bodies twinkling in the sky or glamorous showbiz icons.
Located 400m above sea level on The Peak, Hong Kong Island’s highest mountain, the tower boasts a 360° viewing platform at the top. The platform offers unsurpassed views of the city under a starry sky.
I find myself uttering the same word as many other visitors upon taking in the stunning scene up here: Wow!
Like a sprawling carpet of fairy dust, the neon lights of Hong Kong’s giant skyscrapers cast a magical spell at night. The unique wok-shaped tower we are on sits at an elevation of 396m. There are viewing terraces located on different levels of the tower, all of which offer varying views of the Hong Kong and Kowloon skylines.
On Level Two, you’ll see Madame Tussauds Hong Kong, which boasts over 100 “personalities”. Visiting the wax museum is probably my best chance ever to get up close and personal with world-famous people (even if they are made of wax and painted).
Although I’ve been to the wax museum in London, I don’t mind paying the HK$100 (RM50) admission fee to get into the one here. Welcoming visitors at the entrance is none other than Pierce Brosnan in his debonair suit à la James Bond.
“Famous people” you’ll meet here include Chinese president Hu Jintao, The Beatles, Marilyn Monroe, Hugh Grant, Aaron Kwok, Albert Einstein, and Leslie Cheung.
The Peak plays host to more than six million visitors each year. It was the residence of choice for many of the city’s early colonial administrators, who took to the hills to escape the oppressive humidity and mosquitoes.
Nowadays, rock stars, politicians and playboys call it home. Consequently, property up here is the most expensive in the world. The most enjoyable way to reach The Peak is to take a ride on the Peak Tram. It runs daily between 7am and midnight.
Well, since I do not encounter any living, breathing celebrities at The Peak, I decide to try my luck at Avenue of Stars in Kowloon. Dubbed “Hollywood of the East”, this is the place where Hong Kong pays tribute to the professionals of its film industry.
Located along the 440m Tsim Sha Tsui promenade, Avenue of Stars showcases the territory’s 100 years of cinematic history through inscriptions printed on nine red pillars.
There are also commemorative plaques, including some containing handprints and autographs of the stars set in cement.
In addition, the avenue features kiosks with movie memorabilia, a towering Hong Kong Film Awards statuette and a life-sized statue of the legendary martial arts star, Bruce Lee.
The promenade also offers great views of the famed Victoria Harbour and the Hong Kong skyline.
It is a good place to watch the Symphony of Lights, a nightly multimedia light show with added pyrotechnics on special occasions.
Well, I still don’t manage to see the stars in the flesh, so the only thing left to do is to see where they live. This would be Repulse Bay, which faces the sea with the mountains to its back.
Here, you will find the sprawling bungalows of HK’s rich and famous. Tour guide Stanley points out Jackie Chan’s house atop a hill.
How expensive are properties here? In 2006, prices reached a staggering HK$20,000 (RM10,000) per square feet – does that answer your question?
Sun worshippers will fall in love with the golden bay here with its fine sandy beach. There is a path leading to the beach dominated by towering twin statues of Kwun Yum and Tin Hau, both protectors of fishermen.
Back in 1841 the bay was used as a base by pirates who posed a serious threat to foreign merchant ships. The British fleet were deployed and they subsequently repulsed the pirates, hence the name Repulse Bay.
At the fishing village of Aberdeen, we take a boat-ride to catch a glimpse of the boat dwellers as well as the famous Jumbo Floating Restaurant and the Tai Bak (Tai Bei) Seafood Boat. I am surprised when our boat driver points to a yacht and says it belongs to singer-actor Leon Lai.
Well, I think I have had enough “close encounters” with the stars to make my Hong Kong trip a most memorable one.