Hello Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a living, breathing contradiction. From skyscrapers to isolated beaches, busy streets to jungle paths, dim sum to hamburgers; this is a true international city with an Asian twist.

We arrived in Hong Kong via a flight from Osaka through Beijing. What a stark contrast Beijing is to Japan. We were greeted by steely faced immigration officers as well as an introduction to the extreme pollution that Is present throughout the sub Asian continent. Yellow skies were to be the norm.

The SAR (special administrative region) which includes Hong Kong, Kowloon, and the outlaying areas is different from mainland China. It has it’s own groove and style. The surrounding hills and landscape are tropically majestic. Skyscrapers are sprinkled in between lush mountain peaks. A clashing of man and nature that seems haphazard at first but ends up pleasantly married. We found that the subways were some of the most organized and efficient in the world. The streets were chaotic but not overly dangerous. It actually seems like a very livable city for locals and ex-pats (100,000 and counting.)

Our first stop was the Star Ferry for a trip across the bay from Hong Kong island to Kowloon. It only takes about 15 minutes and costs a couple of bucks, but it’s one of the worlds best commutes. Both sides of the bay are teeming with huge skyscrapers that tip toe the shore. The sheer wall of steel and glass is stunning.  And the building isn’t stopping – cranes sit above cranes above more cranes. China has 1/3 of the worlds tall cranes and Hong Kong is home to it’s fair share.

 After touring Kowloon we crossed back over to the island and the tram up to Victoria Peak. The old tram takes a nearly vertical approach to a famous hill that was the site for the Brits last stand against the Japanese during World War II. Before the tram was operational in 1890, the peak was ascended by locals carrying the upperclass on handmade litters. Not a job i would volunteer for.

Once at the top, you get a birds eye view of the city and bay. All of Victoria harbor is laid out below. You can pick out the different neighborhoods, famous hills, and 7-elevens (which happen to be on every corner.) The panorama reveals that the area is more than just city, there are numerous islands, beaches, and the entire northern territories to be explored. We’ll get to those places in future posts.

Hong kong is also about amazing food. Just to run down a few of the delicacies we sampled. Fried jelly fish is actually much tastier than you would think, although still a bit plasticy in texture. The local lunch of blood porridge accompanied with noodle wrapped Asian doughnuts is cheap and definitely filling. Steamed noodles are a delight, but also very delicate and tricky to eat. Finally, dim sum in Asia is fantastic and seemingly always set in a restaurant decorated for a sweet sixteen party.

I’m sure a few of you are wondering about our accommodations. They can be described in one word, cramped. But, the entire city is cramped, so we can’t complain. We lived out of a small apartment with a narrow walking space around the bed, no closets or drawers and a shower / toilet combination. And that was actually more than we had in Tokyo. New Yorkers may relate but most westerners can’t imagine the lack of available space in Asia. Although, I hear Mongolia has plenty of room available.

More to come, but for now, cheers from Hong Kong.