Hong Kong – So much more than expected

My first flight after three months of traveling brought me to the autonomous region of Hong Kong. Technically it belongs to China, but visa-wise I had left China. Hong Kong has its own currency, its own government, people are using a different set of characters (traditional, as opposed to simplified Chinese), and the majority speak (or at least understands) English. It almost felt like being back in Europe again. Of course, there was still street food, and Chinese lanterns decorated exciting night markets. But there were also supermarkets selling familiar things, lots of santas and Christmas as (completely superfluous, and irritating) reminders for the approaching holiday, and there was more than just the occasional non-Asian face in the crowds on the sidewalks. After a month in China I had almost forgotten that the world can be like this as well.

Hong Kong

I had planned four days in Hong Kong, thinking that it would be enough, but I could have stayed a lot longer – the city, busy and crowded as it is, has a good vibe. There are many green areas, pedestrian walkways and futuristic/ambitious feats of architecture.

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I went up to the “Sky Lobby” on the 46th floor of Central Plaza skyscraper, from where I got a fantastic overview over Hong Kong island, and also across to Kowloon, the other urban part of the city.

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The Star Ferry connects these two busy places. With a price of only 2HKD the ticket is probably the cheapest thing you can buy in the city. And it is worth it: the cruise is short but offers a nice view of the famous skyline, and it feels like the right way to arrive on Hong Kong Island.

Star Ferry

Not worthwhile was the nightly light show on the other hand. The experience: Staring across the water with thousands of other tourists, trying to figure if the lights of the city skyline skyscrapers were in fact changing or not, to an almost inaudible music. A few buildings showed minor activity, for an instant there were even a few lasers pointing towards the sky. But that was pretty much it. Nice, but from a city like Hong Kong I had expected a lot more action at a “Light Show”…

Light Show

Regarding nature I had had no expectations before arriving, assuming that Hong Kong was just a big city. I could not have been more wrong, and ended up spending two entire days breathing fresh air and hearing insects, birds and rushing waves instead of cars, boats and the city background noise. One time I hiked a section of the more than 100km long “Macklehose Trail” that winds its way through the New Territories.

Abandoned village

View over New Territories

New Territories Beach

I was surprised to find small dreamy or even abandoned villages, clean beaches and wild jungle. The other time I took a boat over to Peng Chau and then on to Lantau island, on a mission to explore these islands (although I did not see a lot of the second one, due to its size). The same story – small villages, unaffected by the megalopolis in their vicinity, and untouched nature.

Peng Chau

So I got pleasantly surprised by Hong Kong, and will have to come back, maybe for a camping trip ;-)

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