Monday, September 10, 2012

#937 Hong Kong, China

When I was a child, there were few places as exotic as Hong Kong... the familiarity of being British and yet also fast pasted Chinese, with capitalism, expat lifestyles, high rises, and shopping! My mother tells the stories of her first visit in the 1960s when the harbor was full of junks and it was a poor if lively place, but it is high class, chic and sophisticated today. 
Other than transiting through the airport, I visited in 1997, just before handover, on my way back from Africa, and stayed in a hostel way up on the hill. We landed in the old airport, where planes had to bank a sharp turn to avoid the sky scrapers and hills, and it felt like you would land in the harbor itself. The new airport is of course, luxury impersonated, but I didn't enjoy walking forever!
It really has it all -- a great climate, innovative architecture, fantastic shopping (even if I don't really like most duty free shops), great food, multiculturalism, big name shops and companies, the sea, a great harbor, hills and hiking, culture, people from everywhere, etc, etc. However, I think one of the most amazing things about Hong Kong is how much it changes and adapts. They used to say in the late 90s before the British handed it back to China that everyone was leaving, but in reality, there was a huge influx of mainland Chinese. It's always been one of the Asian hubs and an economic tiger. Originally just Kowloon Island, with the New Territories added to later, from China it came, to China it returned, but yet with its own distinct identity. It will always be exotic to me... when can I go back? (As you can see from the age of these photos, its been too long!)

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