This is part of a series of posts where I look back at some of my favourite pictures from different cities that I have visited. You can read the rest of the series here.
Back before lockdowns, a coronavirus and trouble in China, I managed to visit the chaotic city of Hong Kong, and I'm glad I managed to experience the city before its recent troubles. It was a city high on my bucket list, and it didn't disappoint. If you want to read my in-depth review of Hong Kong you can do it here, or if you want a quick, short read, you can read about the 5 things I loved about Hong Kong here.
Travel advice for Sikhs
Well, for the first time since starting this blog, I can safely say that my experience no longer reflects on the ground realities. The Hong Kong that I went to felt incredibly safe, with a cosmopolitan culture welcoming people from all over the world. I honestly can't say what Hong Kong will be like now - but I can say one thing - visiting won't be a uniquely Sikh problem, and as Sikhs I wouldn't expect any additional issues at places like the airport.
Where else can I start, but the famous view from Victoria Peak. i went both during the night and the day - the night is way better - and if you can time it with the evening light show, it's even better. The sense of size and scale you get from the Peak is incredible, and in terms of city views, it's one of my favourite in the world. Don't pay to go on the observation deck, instead, take the secret path, which was a much better secret than I expected (for long periods I was the only person there). You can find out how to take the secret path in my longer review here.
The light show is pretty cool from the ground level too, I saw it from Kowloon.
In my review, I called Hong Kong an assault on my senses, and Kowloon is the only place where I've had to stop and gather my thoughts because it was all getting a little much. The chaos in this part of the city is unlike anywhere else in the world, forget New York, forget central London, forget Singapore or Dubai - this is in a league of its own. The night markets were my favourite part, and the Fa Yuen street market is probably the most picturesque.
No, but seriously, these night markets were something else. Small glowing stalls lighting up narrow streets. Avoid the wet markets though, read my full review to find out why (and this was before Covid shone a new light on them).
Kowloon is more than night markets. It's where most Hong Kong residents live and home to the Walled City Gardens - formerly one of the most dangerous places on the planet. The Walled City, as it was known, was a midway point between British and Chinese control and became home to criminals from both side of the border. It was taken down prior to the handover of power from the British to the Chinese and in its place is a beautiful garden that also pays tribute to the insane structure that stood there before.
The Aqualuna boat ride was one of the few times I managed to slow down in the city and it was the perfect way to relax and see the city. I took two boat rides across the waterway separating Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. The first was the Star Ferry, the quickest, cheapest and easiest crossing. The second was the more scenic Aqualuna which took me up and down the harbour, taking in all the famous sights. Sunset was particularly beautiful.
Old school Chinese style ships on the waterway look spectacular framed by modern skyscrapers.
Skipping over to another island, Lantau Island, is the Big Buddha. If you're on Hong Kong Island or even Kowloon, it's a fair distance - it took me a four hour round trip on a couple of trains and then cable cars but it's worth the time (and money). The trip on the cable cars is a sight in itself, watching hikers cut through lush green paths below you - this photo was taken from the cable cars as we neared our destination.
But the Big Buddha looks pretty special right? A nice reward at the end of a long journey. Nearby is also the Po Lin monastery.
From the concrete jungle filled with modern skyscrapers, to a green landscape broken up by more traditional buildings - Hong Kong has it all.
Ok, back to Hong Kong Island and the mid-levels. I loved the mid-level escalators, which are the longest covered escalators in the world. Basically, escalators that we associate with indoor shopping centres is the best way to travel through the area.
The Man Mo Temple feels like a world away from the chaos of Wanchai or Central areas of Hong Kong Island, a nice place to relax.
I even managed to visit a Gurdwara - it's amazing, you can be anywhere in the world, but as soon as you step into a Gurdwara it feels like you are back in your local town.
Watching a football match late at night in Wanchai was a nice little highlight.
Hong Kong has more skyscrapers than anywhere else in the world, and to be among them at night is pretty special. I could have enjoyed this rooftop view for hours.
I really enjoyed the food in Hong Kong. I managed to do everything from quiet upmarket restaurants, to cheap and crowded restaurants where I got by just from pointing at menus - English isn't completely widespread. Dim Dim Sum in the Wanchai area was my favourite restaurant.
Space is at a premium in the city, so some of these restaurants were very small and very crowded.
I'm a fan of these trams, a cheap and easy way of getting around parts of Hong Kong. Each tram has so much individual character.
Wanchai is a little more upmarket and has some pretty cool art installations. The buildings look and feel a lot 'cleaner' - I'm not sure that's always a good thing.
Small protests along busy roads foreshadowed the large protests that would happen a few months after my visit.
Lan Kwai Fong, one of the big centres of Hong Kong nightlife is also where immigrants from Europe and North America tend to hang out.
I'm a fan of Hong Kong, or at least the Hong Kong that I saw. There's a lot of change happening in the city, and there's a chance that the Hong Kong that I saw, the miracle of the late 20th century, might be a very different type of Hong Kong going forward.
British Sikh, born in the Midlands, based in London, travelling the world seeing new cultures.