Beyond the buildings and businessmen
Hong Kong Travel Blog› entry 96 of 113 › view all entries
January 3rd, 2009 – by: afredrix
I had no idea what to expect from Hong Kong. I pictured a city overflowing with shiny new buildings, English businessmen and an endless supply of little plastic toys that go into kids' stockings and cereal boxes (or is that Taiwan??) Either way, my initial impression proved that I wasn't far off on at least the first two accounts.
Hong Kong is an immensely tall city. Row after row of high-rises sprout up from every inch of the island. Corporate buildings (proudly displaying their corporate logos) line the water front, and apartment buildings of equally impressive stature fill the gaps. With no room to build out, everything builds UP; resulting in an endless skyline and cramp in my neck.
As for the businessmen, there are Americans, Europeans and Asians as well as English, and women as well as men, but they do exist in an abundance. The sudden thrust back into a mob of westerners after two months in Asia was a shock to my system and not necessarily an easily-welcomed one. But with a hop, skip and a metro ride, I could trade in the Starbucks and Armani suits for the local fish and fruit vendors of a culturally richer side of town.
I spent five nights on a couch in one of those small-but-charming Sai Wan Ho apartments. I arrived a few minutes after my host Warren had himself returned home from the trip up north. The customary get-to-know-eachother period had already taken place in Beijing, so by this point--a week and six flights of stairs later--I was arriving at the flat of a good friend.
Daniel (yet another of the Kiwis from Christmas) also spent the week in Hong Kong before returning home to Sweden.
I had flown in on a Saturday evening. Just in time to experience the nightlife of Lan Kwai Fong. It's an area of Central Hong Kong, bustling with bars, tourists and expats. It's also where we magically ran into my english friends, Emily and Peren, within five minutes of arrival. I knew I'd meet up with them at some point in the city, I just didn't know it would be so soon or so easy.
Our night spilled into other neighborhoods, more bars, possibly a lame strip club if my memory serves me right, and a show by Hong Kong's finest cover band. It was a splendid way to begin my experience in this new city.
The days that followed fused purposive sightseeing with aimless roaming. Warren took me through congested shopping streets that could make the most crowd-loving socialite claustrophobic, and the parks and lots lined with immigrant Filipino women; eating, playing games and gossiping on their day off. We took the historic Star Ferry to the facing banks of Kowloon and caught the last few minutes of HK Island's nightly light show.
While Warren was away teaching, Daniel and I ventured upwards.
On Tuesday, we met up with the girls and bussed to the south side of the island. We did little more there than eat ice cream and soak in the sun, but it was nice to see a skyscraperless side of Hong Kong.
By the time I left, I had formed a new appreciation for what this city could offer beyond shopping. I think it may have something to do with all the friendly, familiar faces here, or perhaps it was the fruit guys that worked in the shop below Warren's flat. We established a bit of a bond in this short-time, and I fear for the wrath Warren will incur when he has to explain to them why he kicked out his new "girlfriend" and why they'll no longer get to see her smiling face. Good luck with that, Mr. Baumberg and goodbye Hong Kong.
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