Arriving to Hong Kong straight from Shanghai, my first impression was – that it felt small! Who would have thought this? It’s also an extremely vertical city. Densely populated and confined in a relatively small area, makes this a necessity. It’s actually one of the world’s most densely populated metropolises. Also the fact that it’s surrounded by green hills and water makes it a very beautiful place.
I also found Hong Kong very clean, orderly and well organised. Many pavements are raised above the streets, with roofs and glazed walls that provided both shade from the sun and shelter from the rain. Also they make a very efficient passage for the many business people who hurries through them morning, noon and night. Hong Kong is one of the world’s leading financial centres and many of the tallest skyscrapers are the homes of various banks and financial institutes. In Hong Kong rules the principle of ”one country, two systems”. Meaning that although a part of China since 1997 when it was returned to Chinese sovereignty, it retains it’s own capitalist economic and political systems.
It was such a relief that the taxi drivers, at least in parts, spoke some English! And having mastered the subway in Shanghai, taking the subway here was a piece of cake. I felt that I blended in very well when an Asian lady asked me the way one day. And I was happy to be able to reply that yes the next stop indeed was Mong Kok, without batting an eyelid! Because of course I had a handy app for the metro system in my trusted iPad.
At first I lived just beside Hong Kong Park, staying with KaKee. She is an art curator who has just opened her own gallery, shortly before I arrived. As she her home also is filled with artwork and pieces of antique furniture, her apartment was one of the homes I wanted to portrait on my quest about a home around the world. We had a wonderful time together sharing some interesting talks about life, love and art. She is born and raised in Hong Kong and is very knowledgeable about the city, information which she generously shared with me. Outside on the balcony of her apartment the Cockatoos flew wild around the trees and held concerts every morning and evening. The view from here was quite spectacular. It looks out onto the skyscrapers and the lush greenery of the park. In between the skyscrapers through the gap you can see a glimpse of Kowloon. Especially at night the many bright lights makes Hong Kong a stunning city.
Every day I trekked up and down the stairs through the steeply rising park and that was my daily exercise done. I also felt very safe here. Even at night when walking back home though the park I felt perfectly at ease. Which was a really good feeling.
Of course I had to take the Peak tram up to the famous vantage point of Hong Kong. The view from Victoria Peak is absolutely amazing! Hong Kong’s skyline is considered one of the best in the world. But viewing it from above gives it another dimension. Early in the morning or in the late afternoon and evening is the best time to be there. I went up in the morning and just about beat the hoards of tourists that come up here every day.
Had a bit of a fright when going down I decided to get of the tram one station before the Lower Terminus. And realised, just as the tram started moving, that I had left my handbag behind on the seat! Running down the hill at break-neck speed, seeing in my minds eye my passport, camera and other essential things flying away. I missed the tram despite that, as it was now on it’s way up again. After much hand-waving and explanations to various members of the staff all ended well, when my new friend the station master marched uphill and after ten nerve wracking minutes later, he came down the track with my beloved bag, with all the things inside it intact. Note to self. Do not confuse camera on shoulder with a handbag. Ever. Again. Do I recommend a trip up to the Peak? Absolutely! It’s a must see!
Copyright and photo: Anita Martinez Beijer