There may well be no such thing as a free lunch, but in Hong Kong there’s the next best thing – a free ride. Lots of free rides. Well, almost free. Under the Fare Concession Scheme for “elderly and eligible persons” , from February 27 onwards residents aged 60 t0 64 (no longer just those 65 and over) can make a journey anywhere in Hong Kong’s 1,110 sq km (429 square miles) and using any means of transport for HK$2 (25 US cents). Just show an Octopus JoyYou stored value card and trips on the MTR subway system, Light Rail, ferries, kaito , franchised buses and red and green minibuses are yours for the price of a local postage stamp. On Hong Kong Island’s trams, the concessionary fare of HK$1.20 will apply to those aged 60 to 64. Aged 60-something, I prefer to think of myself as eligible rather than elderly, and I’m certainly ready, willing and able to take on the “Two-Buck Challenge”: travel as far as you reasonably can in a single day and quietly gloat over the savings. As the old advertising slogan had it, getting there is half the fun. So, with JoyYou, face mask, smartphone and a list of favourite haunts to hand, I’m planning to take the first step and board a ferry as soon as dawn breaks on the 27th. Here is one possible day trip worth taking. 6.20am: Mui Wo – Central; ferry (regular fare – HK$47.10) Even before the day’s properly started I’ll already be 45 bucks ahead. What’s more, this is a classic Hong Kong journey, segueing from a beach resort town patrolled by semi-feral cows and buffalo to the epicentre of Central’s skyscrapers, threading its way past humungous container ships and a scattering of little-inhabited islands en route. Once docked, there might be a bus in the immediate vicinity, but it’s only a couple of hundred metres’ walk to the stop for buses serving the south side of the island. The nameless stall at Pier No 6 sells fresh pastries at this time of day, though its concept of coffee is a taste that is difficult to acquire. Central – Stanley; Bus No 6 (HK$9.80) All aboard for another Hong Kong sightseeing trip that’s generously bundled with a regular mode of transport. Grab a seat on the right-hand side of the bus for a view down past the apartment blocks and out to sea. Stanley is calm at this time of day, the market shutters firmly shut and the market’s shoppers still in bed. On Stanley Main Street, Buddy Café is one of the few independent joints that’s open for breakfast, and its ham and eggs tick both the cheap and cheerful boxes. ‘I’m crying inside’: desperate Hong Kong markets in crisis as sales dry up Stanley – Sai Wan Ho; Bus No 14 (HK$10.20) Time for a swift toast to the long-dead architects and engineers who, at the turn of the last century, built the Tai Tam reservoir dam – latterly the backdrop for many a luxury automobile advertising shoot – with little more than slide rules and their own grey matter to assist them. Riding across the dam while seated upstairs on a double-decker, headed for Sai Wan Ho on the other side of the island, could almost be an attraction at Ocean Park . Amazingly, the No 14 comes to a halt a chopstick throw from the Sai Wan Ho pier. Sai Wan Ho – Sam Ka Tsuen Kaito (HK$9) What the Coral Sea Ferry Service Company lacks in aesthetic nous it makes up for with enthusiasm. Twice an hour (more or less) its merry, nautically decorated two-decker converted fishing smack putters across the harbour to Sam Ka Tsuen, a village in Lei Yue Mun. The village is renowned for its (competitively priced) seafood restaurants, but it will probably be too early for lunch, so there’s the option of making a request at the century-old Wishing Tree, or taking a look at the Jockey Club Plus arts centre, which has preserved and restored the old village school, a handsome example of vernacular architecture. This is a corner of the city that’s retained a fair dose of character, which is more than evident in its higgledy-piggledy geography. Lei Yue Mun – Choi Hung; Bus No 6P (HK$6.80) This is probably the least intriguing 35 minutes of the day, with the bus rumbling through the workaday environs of Kwun Tong, with not even a glimpse of the old Kai Tak airport to liven things up. The MTR is an alternative. Choi Hung – Sai Kung; Minibus #1A (HK$9.70) Boy, these Macau Grand Prix drivers manqué enjoy their work, gunning their minibuses away from the city up the hill to Pik Uk and hurtling down into the (sorta) leafy environs of Sai Kung . The town’s still pretty relaxed, with a seaside vibe and a clutch of boutiques to browse, what might be generously described as a corniche to stroll along, and a global sampling of restaurants and cafes. By this time of the day, I’ll be ready for a margarita (pizza) or similar and something to drink, which should set me back about HK$140. Sai Kung – Sha Tin; Bus No 299X (HK$10.90) This is probably the second least intriguing of the day’s motorised jaunts, though it does pass through two fairly substantial wedges of country park, which on any day but today would make for tempting hiking. Sha Tin has changed a bit since the Chinese emperor’s rice was grown here, and there is little reason to linger unless Ikea or similar hold an allure. Sha Tin – Sheung Shui; MTR (HK$7.30) It’s diverting to consider that, with a few (albeit fairly dramatic) changes along the way, and without a global pandemic, Sha Tin could be the starting point of a railway journey stretching as far as Europe. However, today’s destination is Sheung Shui, practically the end of the line in Hong Kong. It’s by no means picturesque, but it does carry a distinctly edgy ambience given its proximity to the border, especially in the discount pop-up stores along San Hong Street and the adjacent alleyways. Sheung Shui – Tuen Mun; Minibus No 44 (HK$16.80) It’s time for another high-octane run aboard what some describe as the marriage of a massage chair and a go-kart, arcing through the northeast New Territories, past the Mai Po nature reserve and the windswept heights of Castle Peak, screeching to a halt right next to the ferry pier. 7pm Tuen Mun – Tung Chung Ferry (HK$19.50) This is the one unmissable connection of the day: mount the gangplank by 7pm and it’s a smooth and stately journey back down the west coast. Any later, and it’s going to be a long drag back through the urban area by bus, because the last sailing will have departed. There’s nothing like a sea cruise to round off a day’s gallivanting. T-Bay in Lantau is Hong Kong’s newest place to eat out Tung Chung – Mui Wo; Bus 3M (HK$17.80) It’s not so long ago that the only route over the top of Lantau was a single-track road with passing places. Not any more, though, and it’s a mere half-hour ride (and a final HK$2) to get back to the day’s starting point. Like many places in Hong Kong, there’s no shortage of international restaurants for a celebratory takeaway (while dining restrictions are in place) supper, and Mui Wo scores particularly well, with American, Thai, Mediterranean, Indian, British pub, Turkish and Italian offerings. Paying regular fares, the day’s Hong Kong loop-the-loop would cost HK$164.90. Those 60 and over pay HK$22 for 11 rides, which entails roughly HK$140 in savings. So maybe there could be such a thing as a free lunch after all.