Hong Kong became a colony of the British Empire after the First Opium War and the British only gave it back in 1997 after 156 years of British colonial rule. They left behind a city that is distinctly Chinese, but also very British. My wife and I went there for a couple of days in Autumn a few years back to get away for the noise and heat of Manila, where we had been lving. She had lived there before as a teenager, but that was when it was still under British rule, and we were curious to see how the city had changed. While it is true that Hong Kong went through a bit of a less-than-pretty period after the hand-over, the city today is just as amazing and beautiful as it ever was in colonial times. Maybe even better.
Hong Kong is actually just one of the islands in the territory which gives the place its name. The central area of Kowloon is probably one of the most densely populated places on earth, but with that you get a huge array of places to wander, shop, eat and sleep.
We could not pass a place with duck hanging in the window without going in for a bite to eat and so we ended up eating 6 times a day. A plate of roast duck and pork in one of the cheaper places is only about $5, and will keep you going until you want more. And you will want more! Much like Singapore, Hong Kong offers a smorgasbord of Chinese cuisines with so many regional varieties. It is a dining paradise. From dim sum to seafood, street stalls to tea time, you will never starve in this city. And nothing ever closes!
And then there is the shopping. You can find anything and everything here. Varieties of items from big brands that are available only in Hong Kong. And because much of it is made in China, the prices are sweet. Many shops will negotiate with you on price, even big stores. And it is safe to shop, as the Chinese believe that overcharging is an immoral business practice, is it’s pretty unlikely to ever happen to you.
We wanted to get out of for a bit Kowloon so we headed out to Ocean Park, an amusement park opened in 1977. The park has lost many of it visitors to The Hong Kong Disneyland which opened in 2005 but has recently added new attractions and is again drawing record numbers of visitors. Even though it has the feel of a slightly aging theme park, it is great value, and not only did we not have to wait in line for the rides, we could get of and get straight back on again. Imagine 7 times straight on a roller coaster.
Our short holiday was over way too quickly. I could easily stay in this city for weeks. So, feeling somewhat mournful, we made our way toward the MTR train stop to catch the airport express, stopping for just one more plate of roast duck and noodles. Or maybe 2.
To Travel in Hong Kong is to get a small taste of China without going through visa process or dealing wit Chinese Authorities. This blog first appeared on One Tour One in the Asia Archives.