Poor travel planning: Twenty-four hours in the air (13 there, 11, back) and less than 72 on the ground in Hong Kong, which is a sort-of-phonetic rendering of the Cantonese pronunciation of the characters in the title above meaning “fragrant harbour”.

Three names recur in discussions of the world’s most beautiful cities: Vancouver, Rio de Janeiro, and Hong Kong. I live in the first, have never visited the second, and would vote for Hong Kong. One consequence of this is that it is ridiculously over-photographed. I’m not going to let that stop me.

Lots of cities have lots of tall buildings. Hong Kong probably has more. Also, they stand out by their disproportionate skinniness, and by the surprising decrepitude you see here and there.

Tall skinny decrepit colourful Hong Kong apartment towers

I spent the longest time flipping back and forth between these two shots of Man Mo Temple then decided that bits are close enough to free, why not do both? Those coils are incense and they’re all burning, it’s a pretty smoky place.

Inside Man Mo temple
· · ·
Inside Man Mo temple

We went all the way up the Central-Mid-Levels escalators, although when you get to the top you’re nowhere in particular. This is along the way.

Bamboo scaffolding and reflections taken from the Central-Mid-Levels escalators in Hong Kong

And of course we went up to the Peak, which is obviously one of the world’d great views. I’m pretty shameless, but not enough to publish yet another picture of it. On the other hand, you can sit in The Peak Lookout, which I highly recommend, have a nice cold beverage and watch the sun set towards Aberdeen.

Sunset looking toward Aberdeen from Hong Kong’s Victoria Peak

I have one problem with Hong Kong: I don’t much like Cantonese food. I like the cuisines to the north, east, and south, and I acknowledge that it’s a highly-developed food culture; the fault is clearly in me. Anyhow, I got taken out for a business breakfast in a place somewhere in Central that was advertised as offering the ultimate HK breakfast. It was busy and bright and efficient.

The food was OK, but I couldn’t make it through the infamous Milk Tea, much to the amusement of my hosts.

Traditional Hong Kong breakfast

What’s New? · I hadn’t been to Hong Kong for a few years, and I suspect the harbour light-show was instituted during that time. What happens is, in the evenings all the big buildings around the harbor have bright moving lights, and quite a few of them have dancing spotlights or slashing green lasers off the top. The affect is remarkable, and of course a photograph can’t capture it.

Hong Kong harbour’s after-dark light-show

Some other things have changed. The airport is much nicer by any measure than mouldy old Kai Tak, but I miss stepping outside and having the smell of Kowloon hit you in the face.

Then there are the signs saying “This way to the PLA barracks.” It occurs to me that if the Hong Kongers really got in a nasty uppity mood, the PLA would be really hard-put to do anything about it. The place is just too big and congested and broken-up.

I enjoy Hong Kong, its beauty and flavor and intensity. It’s not the happiest place in the world, and I suspect that tough times like we’re in now having bite harder there than in lots of other locales. I really wish them luck.

Breakfast Prep · We got up early on the Saturday we were leaving and took a long-ish random walk around Wan Chai and neighboring districts. Here, a street-food stall is getting warmed up for the rush. When we passed it again around 9AM, the place was completely mobbed, so whatever they were preparing was probably good.

Weekend breakfast in Wan Chai

I’ll be back.



Contributions

Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Matěj Cepl (Feb 16 2009, at 02:47)

What? A list of three most awesome cities doesn't include any European one (especially Prague)?

Disclaimer: I am a Czech ;-)

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From: Mark W (Feb 17 2009, at 17:19)

Nice pics. I migrated from Hong Kong to Vancouver over 12 years ago. I want to go visit just by looking at your pictures. One problem that has been bugging Hong Kong lately is that it is constantly smoggy. It is hard to find a nice sunny day anymore.

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February 15, 2009
· Arts (11 fragments)
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· The World (126 fragments)
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