Over 7.500 glittering skyscrapers, Hong Kong (HK) a.k.a the “world’s most vertical city” or “New York’s little sis” or the “BIG LYCHEE” or the “Pearl of the Orient”. So many nicknames for this city-state located on China’s south coast.
It’s a place where the old and the new, the East and the West, converge. The main language is Cantonese Chinese, but almost everything is translated as well in English. (road signs in English are quite handy – ME loving it!!). The landscapes consist mostly of mountains, but the urban area is dotted with glass and steel towers.
In fact – Statistics claim that more people spend time here sleeping, working, & generally hanging out above the 14th floor than anywhere else in the world. Unbelievable but true!! Restaurants, hostels, bookstores,… are most of the time located in upper floors of the building…strange but I guess it makes sense…not enough space…
As I arrived in the center of this world’s leading financial centres, I am in a state of awe. I am basically surrounded by tall buildings, looking at the insane traffic & the dense population on the walking paths. It’s spectacular, crowded, exiting, historic, electric, loud, breathtaking…
To be honest, I didn’t know a single thing about HK before landing here… I had chosen (last-minute) HK as my 1st destination because it was the cheapest ticket I could get…Again, I really have no Master plan here!! So, I was ready to see what HK had to offer 🙂
With my China Lonely Planet (LP) in hand, I started visiting…What is the measure of a good travel book? It lies in the ability to motivate you to get your a** out there. To motivate you to see with your own eyes some va-va-voom views!! And, that is exactly what I’ve done in HK with my LP, and with the help of friends, David & Jenifer. They are the best!!
First suggestion is exploring Hong Kong by hopping on a “Ding Ding”– translation: a tram. The island’s trams have been part of Hongkongese’s daily life for over a century. So, travelling by tram allows to view the lively street life, but also to have first impressions on the city’s culture, dynamic. The trams are still the ones from 1904…although stylishly redecorate with colourful ads (pink, green, flashy blue,…). It’s cheap (HK$2) and fun to ride – what more can you ask for?
Then, experiencing Hong Kong culture through its markets and dishes. Cooking is definitely not my forte. I know probably by heart 4-5 recipes maximum, that I methodically follow… not 1 gramme more than indicated in the recipe! Every attempt to bake, cook or roast something, was just a disaster! Friends and family can attest – I don’t have the cooking techniques, the patience, nor the time. I guess I’ll just have to marry a Chef (as wisely, strongly suggested by my grandmother – “You can’t get/keep a husband if you can’t cook…unless he’s a Chef”)
I may not be a great cook, but I am certainly a real food lover! Always been a foodie, always will. I just love to taste new flavours, new textures, … . Here in Hong Kong, the food is not only cheap but delicious!! I think I tried so many different dishes that it would be impossible to list them all. And, it’s been quite an experience to try out some street food.
Every Wednesdays, one must be at the Race course in Happy Valley. It’s the place to drink some beer, gamble (translation: loose some HK$) and create/cherish your networking. The atmosphere is electrical, people are getting excited, shouting their favorite horse’s name, and encouraging the jockey for the big win. It’s a again a first in my life, I had never been to a horse race before that…it was quite an experience!!
Since I am not the kinda person who spends days/weeks visiting museums, I decided to wander around the city. Sometimes, it pays off to discover a city on foot. I spot amazing architectural works, tiny little alleyways and charismatic parcs. I am able to witness local life scenes and engage a conversation with the locals. Other times, I just end-up lost and frustrated with none of my “must-see” list ticked off.
I must admit that I am one of those persons who make lists for almost everything. I just like to list all facts, reflect on it, then make a (good) rational choice. That’s me! So, on my last day in HK as I am heading towards the train station, I am thinking about what I really loved and what I just hated here (even though “hate” is kinda of a strong word). Here’s the list:
- My day at Stanley beach with David & Jenifer. Great company, and I drank for the first time a fresh coconut.
- Victoria’s peak amazing view (just breathtaking)
- The electric atmosphere at the Horse races
- “MY” apartment in HK (I just bought it a couple of months ago, and I am letting David and Jenifer stay there…..ahahaaa “MY apartment” 😉
- Hanging out with great, funny people (MS, Antoine, JP, Pierre, Dom,…)
- My last night-out conversation about life 😉
- My first night in the Chungking Mansions hostel. I found the hostel online, the reviews were good…but the place was just creepy & disgusting. The hostel was located in a look-like-abandoned building, made up of many Paki shops, independent hostels, African bistros, Indian clothing shops,… It’s an unusual atmosphere with weird people hanging in the alleys at night)
- People spitting in public (ugh – it’s just gross)
- I lost my Octopus card with some credits $ on it; card that is quite useful for all public transport & groceries shopping (probably throw it in the public garbage)
- I lost (or got stolen) my Mastercard after 1 week only (No further comments).
- When I had to walk back to the apartment for 40 minutes because I didn’t have enough money on me for the whole way with the cab (Walk straight, and then turn left after 7 light stops… my feet still remember it).