Mittwoch, 28. September 2011

How to survive in Hong Kong: Lesson #1, the Octopus Card

Once, in a  country far far away called Germany there was a traceur, hindered in his movement as he was waiting for a train. He was exasperatedly because the 30 minute trainride cost a small fortune, the service was bad and the train ran only every half an hour, when on time. In addition one always had to carry around change as payment.
The traceur was so furious about this treatment that he flew to a myth-enshrouded place where one could board any of the many different vehicles available and pay conveniently by placing his wallet onto a magic button.

My one and only Octopus Card.
Okay enough of the tails, over here in Hong Kong the public transit system can be described as awesomness²! With the rechargeable Octopus card one can not only pay all public transit by swiping it over a sensor but at all Starbucks, 7-11s and many more stores. In addition you receive one free trip for every 100 HKD you spent (about 10 Euro). Moreover the fair is comparably inexpensive as one pays 2.3 HKD for the tram, 4.8-10.5 for the MTR (Mass Transit Rail) and 5-12 HKD for the bus and minibuses.
Taxis are comparably cheap too. Every Monday I have to switch campuses and therefore take the taxi which takes me about 20 minutes and the charge is only charged with about 75 HKD.

This one being the MTR-logo
The tram being the cheapest vehicle only runs, of course, on fixed tracks on Hong Kong Island. All of the routes go from East to West, covering the northern part of the island.
As one stop is just outside my door, it is really convenient for me to take the tram to most of my afternoon and evening activities. It is always a great sight to just sit on the upper deck and watch the street pass by. Once I have time, I will post some "off the tram shot" pictures.

The MTR is by far the most used public transit vehicle transporting most of the professionals from Kowloon through the tunnel to the many office buildings on the island and back. The reasons why so many people use this way of transportation is because it is fast and really convenient as the waiting time only ranges from 1-10 minutes and the railway area covers most of the urban area.

Every morning I bestow my way to work by bus hence this route is not covered by any other pt-line. Some bus routes are exceptionally busy during rush hour and therefore slow but most of the times the bus is a good way to reach ones destination as well. However during rush hour I prefer to switch to the MTR for some stops hence traffic is sometimes time consuming. Moreover on the bus you can sit on the upper deck up front and enjoy the view while travelling or take a nap.

Tram, double-deck bus and of course a German Benz!

Lastly there is the option to chose a taxi for travelling. The time and money you have to spend for a trip depends mostly on traffic likewise driving skill and English capability vary greatly from one to another driver. So far, the most annoying driving style I have experienced is the constant gas on/off way, at an interval of one acceleration per second. Not only does one have to hold on to a handle but fear for his life as well as the driver is apparently not well schooled. In addition your stomach should not be upset if you board one of these taxis or you lunch/ drinks might cross your mind again.