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Hong Kong - Around Kowloon : Kowloon – Tsim Sha Tsui (part 1)

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On one level, Tsim Sha Tsui (universally truncated to "TST" in a merciful gesture to non-Cantonese speakers) is still a parody of a tourist quarter in an Asian port: its tailors and camera salesmen do not suffer fools, its hostess bars are the scene of many a ruinous round of drinks. But there is also much more to TST than that. There is a profusion of world-class cultural venues, galleries and museums. There are hotels – the Peninsula, the Inter-Continental, the Langham – of jaw-dropping luxury. And in the monolith that is Harbour City is every product and service the human mind can conceive of.

Chungking Mansions

This grim and squalid collection of guesthouses, flops and fleapits amid the glitter of Nathan Road has become the stuff of legend over the years, resisting attempts to knock it down. The bottom three floors are full of fabric shops, fast-food joints and lurid video shops. You may trip over a collapsed drug addict in amongst the rats and firetrap wiring. Hong Kong auteur Wong Kar-wai made this the setting of his 1994 hit film, Chungking Express. The best way to experience the Mansions is in one of the cheap Indian restaurants (see Gaylord).



Sights in TST

  1. The Golden Mile

    This strip that stretches up Nathan Road from the waterfront could be more accurately dubbed the “neon mile”. It’s less glitzy than Central and comprises mainly bars, restaurants, tailors, camera and electronic shops and the odd desultory topless bar. The crowds are so great that walking the Golden Mile becomes a major challenge.

    The Golden Mile

    Gargoyle, Boom Bar
  2. The Peninsula Hotel

    The last word in luxury accommodation and service. This venerable hotel sits like a proud old dowager, gazing sedately across at the vertiginous Hong Kong Island skyline. The cheapest rooms start where many other luxury hotels stop, although special offers sometimes apply. A night in the opulent Peninsula suite will set you back the price of a new car. It boasts eight bars and restaurants, including the Philippe Starck-designed Felix and cognoscenti-favoured Gaddi’s. If you desire, you can swoop onto the roof by helicopter. Otherwise you’ll be collected by Rolls-Royce.

    • Salisbury Rd, Kowloon

    Oysters, Sheraton Hotel
  3. Museum of History

    This museum was built at a cost of almost HK$400 million, half of which was spent on its pièce de résistance, the Hong Kong Story, which attempts to chronicle the 400 million-odd years since Hong Kong coalesced from the primordial ooze. The story is told across eight galleries contain-ing more than 4,000 exhibits, which vividly outline the natural environment, folk culture and historical development of Hong Kong.

    • 100 Chatham Rd South

    • 2724 9042

    • 10am–6pm Mon & Wed–Sat, 10am–7pm Sun

    • Adm (free Wed)

  4. Space Museum

    When you’ve had enough of history, come and peek into the future. This odd-looking dome in the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui includes an omnimax theatre and interactive exhibits such as the jetpack ride.

    • Cultural Centre Complex, 10 Salisbury Rd

    • 2721 0226

    • 10am–9pm Sat, Sun, 1pm–9pm Mon, Wed–Fri. Closed Tue

    • Adm (free Wed)

    Space Museum
  5. Science Museum

    Some fascinating interactive displays here if you don’t mind fighting your way through the giggling, pushing throngs of schoolchildren. There are enough buttons to push, gadgets to grapple with and levers to tweak to satisfy even the most hard-to-please kids. Basic principles of chemistry, physics, biology and other sciences are explained but in a much more entertaining and less dry manner than in the classroom.

    • 2 Science Museum Rd

    • 2732 3232

    • 10am–9pm Sat, Sun, 1–9pm Mon–Wed, Fri

    • Adm (free Wed)

  6. Museum of Art

    You may well be fed up with museums by this point. If not, here you’ll find oil paintings, etchings, lithographs and calligraphy. One display features pottery shards and suchlike from southern China dating back to Neolithic times, and there is also a fine collection of elegant porcelain from various Chinese dynasties.

    • 10 Salisbury Rd

    • 2721 0116

    • 10am–6pm Fri–Wed, (to 8pm Sat)

    • Adm (free on Wed)

  7. Kowloon Mosque

    When the muezzin calls the faithful to prayer, the Jamia Masjid Islamic Centre is where you’ll find most of Hong Kong’s Muslims. You can stop by for a look, but take your shoes off and be respectful. Entry to the inner part is not permitted unless you are a Muslim come for prayer.

    • 105 Nathan Rd

    • 2724 0095

    • 5am–10pm daily

    • Jumah (Friday) prayers at 1:15pm

  8. Cultural Centre

    With a peerless view beckoning across the water, the geniuses in charge decided to build the world’s first windowless building, and covered it for good measure in pink public toilet-style tiles. Wander around and marvel at one of the great architectural debacles of the 20th century. That said, it hosts some good dance and theatre.

    • 10 Salisbury Rd

    • 9am–11pm daily

    • Box office 10am–9.30pm daily

    • 2734 9009

    Cultural Centre

    Cultural Centre
  9. Clocktower

    The Kowloon-Canton Railway, which now ends at Hung Hom, used to finish at this clocktower, as did the rather more famous Orient Express . A newly-opened extension now once again brings trains to the tip of Kowloon. From here, you can walk for more than a kilometre around the TST waterfront and marvel at the odd optimistic fisherman dangling a line in the harbour.

    Clocktower
  10. Kowloon Park

    While in TST, if you feel one more whisper of “Copy watch? Tailor?” may provoke you to irrational violence, then venture through the park gates, find a well-shaded bench and watch the world go by. There’s a big swimming pool (reputed to be something of a gay cruising zone), an aviary and a pond featuring flamingos and other aquatic birdlife.

    • Haiphong Rd

    • 6am–midnight daily

    Kowloon Park
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