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Hong Kong Diary
Click below to listen to the sounds of the streets of Hong Kong:
HongKong by theflybynight
Our first stop? Destination Hong Kong. What was one of the last outposts of the British Empire is now very much a modern Asian city – although little idiosyncrasies remain: a tendency towards queuing and a love affair with pointless rules (woe betide anyone who tries to lie down in the park or dip their feet in the fountain). Hong Kong seems to have overtaken the UK in leaps and bounds in terms of efficiency (probably whilst we were too busy cutting the crusts off our cucumber sandwiches) evident on your first arrival when you board the Airport Express and glide effortlessly right into the centre of Hong Kong – with flashing LEDs on the wall showing your location every step of the way. The centre of Hong Kong is suitably futur Dazzling skyscrapers glint wickedly in the autumn sun, whilst office workers rush past on walkways above
The dizzying heights extend into living quarters as well – there’s not much space on Hong Kong island, so the only way to go is up.
One of the great things about Hong Kong is how it’ s pretty much got everything, if you know where to look. We went from having afternoon tea at the Peninsular Hotel, complete with string quartet and fresh scones…
…to scoffing steaming bowls of noodles in the street at Temple Street Market in Kowloon – served by the charming chef with the obligatory cigarette hanging out of the corner of his mouth as he cooked (it can only have added to the flavour – they were delicious)
For every shiny and prohibitively expensive shopping mall, there’s a lively night market bursting to the seams with a wonderful array of useless tat you never you knew you wanted (until now). Solar powered plastic penguins anyone?
Hong Kong life is hectic, and an assault on the senses that is both addicitive and overwhelming. The powerful smells of the shops selling strange dried delicacies such as shark fin, the overpowering heat and humidty, and the simple lack of space can sometimes leave you reeling.
Luckily you can escape to the hills and the beaches in less than half an hour (that’s not us paragliding by the way – we stuck to extreme rambling). And yes – you can swim in the sea in November!
Hong Kongers love their pets – whether it be birds…
… or exceedingly vicious small dogs!
So with full bellies and two essential Cantonese phrases under our belts (the address of where we were staying, plus the ubiquitious ‘ng goi’ – which basically means pretty much anything) it was time to leave Hong Kong. Lasting impressions? Despite the hectic pace and the humidity, I can see why so many ex-pats flock to HK. It has all the attractions of a modern Asian city – the buzz, the food, the opportunities – but if you crave home comforts – a cheese sandwich, an English voice or even a drunken night in Soho – they are never very far away.
Pics by Dan, Timur & Roz
Sounds of Hong Kong by Timur