Published: May 18th 2008May 9th 2008
View from Victoria Peak
Our guide book describes Hong Kong as like a "difficult person to understand" and we know what they mean. Hong Kong is difficult to fathom and even more difficult to describe. It's probably fine if you just come here for a night or two as part of a stop-over as many people do - you would be dazzled by the high-rise skyline from the Star Ferry or the Peak Tram and leave happy and impressed. The problem for us was that we were there for a week and wanted to understand the city in a bit more depth.
Sometimes it felt almost familiar with traces of London and Shanghai, but other times it seemed unique and impenetrable. Either way its size and complexity means that it takes a while to get to grips with Hong Kong and its possibly a place you would have to live in for a while to truly appreciate. Despite the fact that the streets are teeming with life we got the feeling that many of the charms were hidden away from us in air-conditioned high-rise luxury somewhere. If the oppressive heat and humidity we experienced is anything to go who can blame them.
said all that we did have a great week in Hong Kong. We stayed in Kowloon, across the harbour from Hong Kong Island and travelled back and forth by the efficient underground or the ferry with its fantastic views. We wandered through the Chinese markets selling everything from Chairman Mao memorabilia to birds' nests for soup. We ascended the longest escalator in the world to the island's mid-levels for lunch and climbed even further after dark to Victoria Peak to see the lights of the city.
We were lucky enough to be there when the Olympic torch went through Hong Kong and despite the fact that it was raining nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd. It was interesting to read a more balanced press in Hong Kong about the Olympics and the protests around the world. Freedom of the press seems to have been maintained here following the hand-back to China despite the press restrictions on the mainland.
The unrelenting urbanity (is that a word?) of Hong Kong meant that it was a relief for us to get out of the built up area to the south of HK island, visiting Stanley, Repulse Bay and having
a sea food lunch aboard the magnificent Jumbo floating restaurant. We discovered this was a relatively affordable great way to be part of the high life here because on Sunday for about 20 pounds we were able to spend 3 hours eating all the oysters, sushimi and other sea food we could manage, and drinking as much champagne as we wanted; suddenly Hong Kong feels all warm, friendly and accessible!!
There are more photos below