Tag Archives: Observation Deck

The SkyTree

The name SkyTree certainly conjures up a great image in the mind. A tree that lives in the sky. Sounds poetic and perfectly describes this Tokyo destination.


Unfortunately, for this trip we were not allowed to go to the top because of bad weather (high wind) yet when I checked the website that morning it said it would be open…oh well, those are the breaks. It just means that I will need to make another trip to Tokyo and finally see the city from a different perspective.


It’s a very impressive structure that sticks out amid the urban sprawl of apartments and offices. And as we stood from the base and looked up we realized just how massive the structure is and the amount of planning and engineering involved in the making of this observation deck.

After we walked around the base and took in as much as we could we walked around the mall that surrounded the SkyTree. At the base, where tour groups and buses gather, there is an art installation that is part hand-painted mural and part digital. It depicts Tokyo in a compressed and condensed manner that highlights just how compact the city is while also having fun with technology that has become a part of the city’s identity. The digital portion of the mural animates the citizens of Tokyo and how they go about their daily lives in a fun and cartoony way.




After taking in this fun piece of art it was time to head on out since the tower was not going to be opening until much later that night and we had things to do and places to see.

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The Air Up There – Hong Kong Style

I think I have already established that I have no real problem with heights. So it should come as no surprise that in every city I visit I try to get up to a view point that puts me above it all and Hong Kong is no different as it is home to many observation decks that can be visited for free – you just need to get there by traversing the multiple walkways and overpasses in order to get from one street to another. It is doable and I highly recommend it because the views from these observation decks provides a whole new perspective on what the city is like.

First up is the Bank of China Tower which is the building designed by I.M. Pei and is, all-in-all, pretty spectacular and is the most recognizable out of all of the buildings in Hong Kong. It’s the one Feng Shui experts don’t like because of it’s hard lines and angles. Boo hoo, it looks pretty cool to me and was my first stop on my skyscraper tour. Please note that a valid photo ID (passport, driver’s license, etc.) is required upon entry or else you won’t be able to get in. They use your name and assign you an ID that gets you up to the 43rd floor. I happened to visit the observation deck on a somewhat cloudy day so visibility was limited but I could still see the other buildings. I was treated to this spectacular view of most of Central Hong Kong and some of Kowloon:


2 IFC in all it’s Dark Knight glory

From here I could see my next destination: 2 IFC, the building prominently featured in the above photograph as well as in the 2008 film The Dark Knight – which is really why I wanted to go into that building in the first place. I love Batman, it’s no real secret. I used to order pizza from the local pizzeria under the name Bruce Wayne, some of the friends I made in South Africa call me Harvey Dent on account that they think I look like Aaron Eckhart’s Harvey Dent from The Dark Knight and I even wrote my college essay on Batman and why he was/is my hero (I said he stood up for the good people and against the corrupt and things of that nature). And yes, I got into college…and graduated.

At 2 IFC you will need to navigate through the people and mall and follow the sings – which is very easy – and after providing a valid ID and receiving a badge allowing you access, make your way up to the 55th floor. Now, up at the 55th floor it is more than just a view of the city, it also chronicles the monetary history of Hong Kong. This view just so happens to be provided by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority so why not throw in a little bit of history for the visitor as well? I learned things about Hong Kong’s money that I didn’t even realize like, for example, they have a plastic reader (it’s essentially a piece of hard plastic folded together) that the blind can use in order to see how much money they have. They do this by matching the bill up to a braille symbol on the plastic which indicates the bills denomination. This is all made possible because the dollar bills are different sizes. I think that’s pretty cool.

After reading as much of the information as I could handle I took in this view:


Bank of China Tower in view


The Peak observation deck near the top


One IFC in the forefront

Lastly, I went across the bay to Kowloon to the 118th floor of the Ritz Carlton and to the Ozone Bar. Dubbed ‘the highest bar in the world’ Ozone has the vibey ambiance and view make this an experience not to miss. The bar is open to everyone, not just hotel guests, and getting there is half the fun but not for the claustrophobic. The elevator is thin and narrow and decorated with black padded panels that look like stones seen in front of walkways leading up to houses in suburban America.

The elevator doors open and I am greeted by vibrant-yet-dark mood lighting and the sound of soft dance music pumping through the speakers and I look out beyond the glass and see the main area of the bar and the view it has of Hong Kong. The coast is bathed in neon lights and the hills are black and speckled with yellow lights telling me that yes they in fact are still there and have not disappeared in the night. The prices for drinks are what you would expect for a place like this but given the view of Hong Kong it provides I sat around for one drink and enjoyed the Hong Kong skyline.


Not a view from the bar, but from the same area.

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