Taking the tram

(or, Riding the ‘ding-ding’)

Question: What’s old, cheap, and gives you an experience you’ll never forget?

Of course, the correct answer is – a ride on one of Hong Kong’s double-decker trams!

While I accept that Hong Kong’s MTR is probably the best people-moving system in the world, when I go ‘Hong-Kong-side’ the tram is my favourite mode of transport.

Nothing’s perfect, though, and the trams do have some small faults: they’re old (many were built in the 1980s); they’re slower than the buses and the MTR; they have no air conditioning; and they’re so small that some – how can I put this?  – larger people have problems boarding and alighting.

But, despite these slight imperfections, I love riding the tram. It forces me to slow down and relax, and lets me savour the sights, sounds and smells of real, unvarnished life in Hong Kong – something a cocooned ride on the MTR cannot do.

Sitting on the upper deck, I become a voyeur (not that kind!) to the everyday routines, problems and lives of the shoppers, tradesmen and pedestrians at ground level, taking my mind off my own mundane thoughts and worries.

And I particularly enjoy the unique tram sounds: the distinctive whine from the motor as the tram accelerates; the dat dat … dat dat of the wheels on the rails; and, best of all, the familiar ‘ding-ding’ from the bell as it approaches a crowded area. The locals actually refer to the tram as ‘the ding-ding’.

Yes, they may be old and slow, but they are an irreplaceable part of the city’s heritage, and a visit to Hong Kong would not be complete without a ride on one of these trams.

In fact, I think it should be mandatory!  😉

If you want to learn more, go to Hongkong Tramways

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