Mongkok, Kowloon, by night - this place was buzzing!
Hong Kong has been renowned for decades as a hub of commerce, finance, glitz, endless shopping options, and a gourmet capital which refuses to show any signs of inability to retain its status. Having been well-acquainted with East Asia (a year spent teaching in South Korea, and 5 years in central Japan), the charms of Hong Kong seemed almost familiar to myself on first glance, and after a while, its character revealed its teeth, and proved to possess aspects of culture and dynamism which you would perhaps best attribute solely to the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong. The night market culture here is a joy to behold, and the Jade market, and neighbouring Temple Street market, alongside nearby Mongkok's ladies market are three examples of market-style commerce where bargain hunters are in their element, and modern, pristine shopping malls, despite being commonplace in Hong Kong, seem to be not the only alluring prospects for parting with your hard-earned cash.
View seen from Victoria peak - well worth the tram ride to get here, I hope you'll agree
Retail floor space here is at a premium, suggesting why even the most basic hotel room could come at a substantial price, and it is no surprise then that backpackers still flock to the basic but cheaper rooms at the Chungking mansions in order to attempt to do Hong Kong on a shoestring. Reaching Hong Kong island via the Star Ferry is a 'must-do' travel experience, and while you're over on the island, I'd also add that a tram ride is a memorable experience, as is a ride on the mid-levels escalator, essentially the world's longest outdoor escalator system, despite being fragmented into sections of escalator. A trip to the towns of Tai Po and Sha Tin, in the new territories, provided an enjoyable escape route from the usual urban zone of Hong Kong, and seeing the statue of Buddha on Lantau island added a cultural tweak to the whole trip.
Statuettes at the temple of Big Buddha on Lantau Island
Boarding a plane at Hong Kong international airport after 4 nights in Hong Kong with the view from Victoria Peak still etched on my mind was a fitting way to bow out. Although there was just one other port of call remaining on the itinerary, I was satisfied to have put another piece of the East Asian jigsaw in place, with a view to drawing on the memories of the trip as vital resources to see me through blander moments of office tedium in the ensuing months.
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