Hong Kong, 8 – 15 March 2016
Thoughts on Hong Kong:
A trip two years in the making, I found myself bound for the land of dim sum, cha chaan teng and skyscrapers in early March. As I sat in the bus that took me to my hostel in Tsim Sha Tsui that would be my home for the next eight days, glimpses of the main island flashed by. Dense doesn’t begin to describe the city. Drab, grey buildings standing side-by-side, piled on top of each other, built on hills, all exuding a gritty vibe. Little alleys and underground basements that unearthed art galleries, tiny eating establishments and other business, if one. The weather was bitingly cold and windy and I was perpetually shivering.
And the people; there were waves of them everywhere, clogging up pavements and jostling for space on the subway and restaurants. It takes great skill to navigate the streets with grace and patience, remembering that this is a city of 7.3 million people, packed together and living and working in close proximity to each other. They seemed jaded and downtrodden, hardy and hardened. They were curt, impatient and lacking in warmth, hardly qualities that endear them to others. Though I am half Cantonese, I cannot speak the dialect. This made communicating with the locals a challenge as most of them don’t speak English. I could sense a certain stiffness when I asked if they could converse in Mandarin instead; they probably thought I was from mainland China.
One of the things that surprised me about Hong Kong was how expensive it is. I ran out of money not once but twice; something that has never happened before, but as the saying goes there’s a first time for everything. I climbed 286 steps to see the biggest Buddha in Hong Kong, hiked a dragon’s back, got shouted at by a group of elderly women playing mahjong, caught some concerts, and savoured piping hot and custardy egg tarts on street corners.
It was good meeting you Hong Kong. I can’t say I’m enamoured of you but there is a certain charm to the chaos and hectic pace at which you run. I don’t know when I’ll be back, but for now, the memories I’ve formed during my short stay will suffice.