I use the Mid-Level’s escalator almost every day. What on earth makes it special those of you outside Hong Kong are probably asking. Well – to me nothing. It is a convenience to make my trip to and from home a bit faster and not have to climb so many steps or use a crazy Hong Kong taxi. I take it for granted.
However, it is a tourist attraction as it is an outdoor network of escalators. You don’t see outdoor escalators in many places. The Mid-Levels escalators allow you to reach an elevation 135 metres above where you started, and are allegedly the longest outdoor escalator system in the world. They are surrounded on both sides by shops, restaurants and pubs. Titus uses them to get to and from work everyday and it isn’t uncommon to occasionally get a call from him in the evening as he has had a slight detour next to the escalators on the way home with his work colleagues. 😉
I have to admit, they are great if you want to do walking adventures around Hong Kong as you can use them to complete a loop. For myself, I normally use them as a climb back up when I have walked down exploring all the little side lanes in Sheung Wan, through Hong Kong Park and back from Admiralty, or when I am feeling adventurous (or insane) after a walking trek over to Wan Chai or Causeway Bay and back. They are generally just as quick as catching a cab up the hill, and a little more environmentally friendly from a pollution standpoint.
From Central you can walk up the escalators to discover the antiques and curiosities on Hollywood Road, a visit to the Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum, find something interesting to eat (and/or drink) on Elgin Street or Staunton Street, go all the way to the top of the system on Conduit road and use it as a starting point on a hike up to the Peak, jump off at Robinson Road and head left to the Hong Kong Zoo and Botanical Gardens or head across to Bowen Road and walk the trail there to look down into Wan Chai/Admirality/Causeway Bay and walk over to Happy Valley if you’re fit and enthusiastic.
You can often see chinese movies or TV shows filming on or around the escalator system. Kids use it to go to school, helpers use it to run their errands, workers use it to rush to and from work, tourists even pay to get a guided tour up it (I feel sorry for them not knowing they can just jump on it and explore themselves). As a vital arterial link it can be a fascinating experience to just sit in a cafe on the side of the escalator and observe the vast array of people ‘riding’ past. Hong Kong’ers often bump into friends or acquaintances while riding up and down them too which can make for some interesting quick, or delayed conversations depending on if you keep riding or jump off. 🙂
My kids love using the escalators. They don’t realise the greater implications of the exercise or environmental aspects. They just see it as a means of getting places that is a normal part of the Hong Kong life.