Meteors and transport fail to put on show
The Leonid meteor show left a trail of transport chaos, littered beaches and parks and frustrated stargazers as it passed almost unseen across the skies early yesterday.
Tens of thousands of people were left downcast as cloudy skies all but blocked the view of the fiery fragments from the tail of Comet Tempel-Tuttle.
Extra transport services proved insufficient to get everyone home from prime viewing sites with some waiting up to three hours for a bus.
Sky-watchers crammed the southern beaches, Sai Kung, Tai Mo Shan and the outer islands to get a glimpse of the fireballs, which should have been the most spectacular meteor storm since 1966.
Beach residents awoke to a mountain of rubbish left by observers, many of whom opted to walk home with the lack of overnight transport.
Thousands of people queued for several hours from 1am to catch the No 6 bus to Stanley from Exchange Square.
'There must have been at least 3,000 people queuing - minibuses wanted $30 to take people to Stanley or Repulse Bay,' said Dave Coronel, who had planned to take his family to Stanley before deciding to head back home.
Bus firms put on scores of additional services to try to cope with the load.
But by morning the nightmare had worsened as people who had stayed out tried to get a ride home.
Heavy traffic was reported on routes back from Sai Kung and the southern beaches of Hong Kong Island, which were swamped with garbage.
Many stargazers chose to beat the crowds by camping out, particularly on the outer islands, where the best views were reported.
Science student Greg Gigsby, 30, who travelled to Lamma, said skies finally cleared a little about 4am to the cheers of hundreds.
'We saw three or four spectacular bright orange streaks, but it in no way met the hype which has been flung about in the media in the past few days,' he said. 'It was all a bit of a no-show.' Scientists predicted showers of more than 10,000 meteors an hour but satellite companies, which took extensive precautions in case of damage, said the storm was far weaker than expected, with only about 2,000 particles per hour.