The Hidden Beauties of Hong Kong
During this month my Chinese friends are celebrating the lunar New Year, so I thought I’d share about the fascinating city of Hong Kong. I had the chance to visit and it is full of surprises.
Most people picture wall-to-wall apartments and hi-rises, the busy and colorful markets, and throngs of people. And all that is true, but the city has so much more. It is a port city and Victoria Peak (named after Queen Victoria, the British monarch) overlooking the surrounding islands is lush and green and beautiful. From the peak there are fantastic views of downtown Hong Kong, Kowloon and the harbor and when I was there the mist and fog were lifting and the islands you could see in the distance looked magical. We walked the perimeter path around the peak enjoying the dense foliage and the giant Banyan trees.
I was amazed at how early the day gets started for most city-dwellers and how late the day ends. Due to jet lag, we were up very early and as the sun was rising we went to a local park that had a track and walked with all of the neighborhood. Young and old were walking and in the middle of the track, ladies were hula-hooping and gentlemen were doing tai-chi. Exercise and activity seemed to be a high priority.
After a long work day, parents were often seen at the markets with their children, catching dinner at the stalls or buying groceries. It wasn’t uncommon to see young children out until 9 pm or later. We enjoyed the atmosphere and activity of the Temple Street Night Market - it stretches over a mile and sells just about anything you can imagine. The markets during the day were full of beautiful fruits and exotic fish, colorful signs, and lovely handmade items as well as plenty of mass-produced goods, just at amazingly low prices.
There are temples and parks tucked throughout the city and we always saw people enjoying them - reading newspapers, playing mahjohg, or just enjoying the day.
We didn't go hungry in Hong Kong. Everyone was very hospitable and was more than happy to share their local cuisine with us. Whether it was food at the street markets, an elaborate dim sum spread, or cantonese food in a private dining room (a room enclosed with a sliding door and big enough for a table and the walls formed the back of our booth) we had fresh and flavorful food everywhere we went. It was fun to be adventurous and try local favorites (steamed chicken feet and fried shrimp with the shells on)!
Hong Kong and it’s surrounding islands is a great place to explore and experience and has so much more to offer beyond the high-rises and shopping that it might be known for. I found it to have hidden beauties in their parks and temple architecture and their people.