Friday, August 24, 2012

There's my goddamn escalator!

When I was a kid, I loved escalators. Yeah, me too, you might be thinking. But you didn't love them like I did. You didn't get the same exhilarating feeling when you stepped onto the runway and watched it concertina up into a black, ridged metal step, now fully formed through a process of memory or mechanisms you couldn't understand.

Maybe because your nose was closer to the ground in those days, or you sense of smell hadn't been rendered impotent by too many microwaved cottage pies, in your memories you can smell the metal, before that exciting, nerve-wracking final stretch when the stair collapses in on itself and you perfectly time a death-defying hop over the curb or risk definitely going under like your mum told you would happen once and you unquestioningly believed, because why would she lie?

Maybe you did like escalators that much. The thing is, I liked them for a long time, well into my 20s and into my Edinburgh years, before a few too many trips to the desolate Ocean Terminal shopping centre in Leith, riding up and down the cobwebbed escalators while I waited for a friend to finish her shift at the Vue and get me in free to some shit stoner comedy film or other, finally destroyed the magic. Since then, I've ridden escalators much too frequently around the world in cities with subterranean transit systems, from Athens to Tokyo. The dream is over. Escalators are just moving stairs. I got over it.

So I was excited at the prospect of riding the world's longest escalator system in Hong Kong and trying to rekindle this childhood enthusiasm, because let's face it, I could do with a bit of that. This escalator turned out not to be affiliated with the Big Buddha after all, but located in the central district of Hong Kong Island, imaginatively called Central.

Central–Mid-Levels Escalators

This was more difficult to track down than the standard tourist attraction. It seems people mainly use it as a convenient way of getting between shops, restaurants and other places they can spend money, rather than as a fun experience in itself. But what do people know?

Wait a horizontally-gliding minute, that's not an escalator! This is bullshit.
It's one of those things you get in airports, what are they called? Some obviously made up name...

That's the one

Oh great, now I have to take the stairs like a pedestrian? This is almost as bad as when I can't get free, uninterrupted Wi-Fi in the middle of nowhere in poor countries. Unacceptable.

Ahh, that's more like it! Sorry, I got a bit emotional there

I hope I didn't unintentionally break this rule. Whatever it means

As expected, this 'longest escalator' is actually a sequence of regular sized escalators, like the one in Busan, Korea. So it could have been more impressive, but I still enjoyed it

The route passes through the desperately Anglophile Soho district, which actually feels less authentically British than just walking down the high street and seeing the double deckers

And here we are, barfed up at the unceremonious finale

Unfortunately, there's not much to do up here, and they haven't bothered to install a downwards escalator, so you're out on your own

That's right, I've just spent a whole blog documenting my trip up an escalator with arguably more detail and enthusiasm than was strictly necessary. Well, it has been two whole weeks since I showed you my walk around a wall, a couple of weeks after showing you my walk around a slightly different wall. It can't all be protest marches and fireworks.

Repulse Bay

I like to time my visits to the beach on days when it's cold and raining.
It keeps the humans away

Kwun Yam Shrine: Buddhism by the beach

Well, that about wraps it up for Hong Kong. It was pretty nice. I admit I'm feeling some trepidation about visiting Real China next - but what can possibly go wrong...?


  1. I CAN'T WAIT TO FIND OUT WHAT WENT WRONG! I quite like travelators. If you walk along them in the wrong direction it's like being on a treadmill, except you get in trouble with the airport police :(

    1. I'm glad my false suspense worked. My main problem in China was just their rubbish internet restrictions, which meant I ended up spending just 9 days there despite paying extra for a 3-month visa.

      But there are other things I don't want to go into, as if I heard someone else saying them I'd consider them racist. Some stereotypes are grounded in truth though, and it turns out that some of the less pleasant characteristics I've observed in Chinese people in other countries I've visited aren't just the expat exceptions.