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Tram's-eye views of Hong Kong street life.

Hong Kong Island has terrific street life from the never-sleep jumble of Causeway Bay, through the financial chasms of the Central district, to the bustling street markets surrounding the Macao ferry terminal. There's no better way to see and photograph it all than from a tram. Trams make as many as 113 stops on the 10-mile round trip between the island's east and west ends. The whole ride can take up to 2-1/2 hours, but it still costs less than a dime. Cars run from 6 A.M. to midnight.

See colorful island neighborhoods

Board in the Central district near the Star Ferry terminal and you can ride west to Kennedy Town or east to Shau Kei Wan. Hong Kong's oldest surviving section, Kennedy Town is distinguished by brightIy painted shop signs, low-rise buildings dating back to the 1840s, and a waterfront serving brisk Mainland trade.

Wanchai is best known as the world of Suzie Wong; it was once notorious for its pleasure haunts. Today, office blocks are emerging, but you'll also see winding streets with small shops that sell birds, teas, and herbal medicines. After dark, you'll smell the sizzling meats and sauces of food vendors on every corner.

Central's high-rise office blocks, banks, and luxury markets tower overhead. Brand-name shopping is the attraction of the Landmark building and surrounding shops. Don't miss the HongkongBank; the 5 2-story "suspension" structure is supported much like the Golden Gate Bridge-by steel columns and trusses.

In Causeway Bay, upscale Japanese department stores catch the eye. Passing Victoria Park in early morning, you'll see scores of people practicing tai chi-a sort of slow-motion Chinese shadow boxing.

Inhabited from the 19th century, Shau Kei Wan was an early fishing settlement. (Some say that in its heyday it also harbored pirates.) You can still see junkbuilding boatyards.

Tips for a comfortable ride

Avoid riding the tram during rush hours, 8 to 10 and 5 to 6:30. Try to get a seat on top, at the front. If you don't find a vacant one, wait a few minutes; most people ride only a short distance.

Board at the rear; pay at the front as you leave. Cost is about 8 cents U.S. (60 cents H.K.). To join a guided evening tour with restaurant dinner, call 3-722-5555.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Sunset Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Jan 1, 1989
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