Hong Kong – Selected Views and Thoughts
Over the years Hong Kong has been the territory (now part of China) that I have visited most in all my world travel. My first visit was in 1985 with my wife and three young sons (4,6 and 8 years) at the end of a round the world trip. For my wife it was a second visit as she had been there twenty years earlier as a student. The total number of visits now stands a six, the most recent in 2008. As one can imagine, Hong Kong has changed immensely since 1965. One of the things that fascinates me every time I visit Hong Kong and its “fragrant harbour” is that there is always something new being built and yet another part of the harbour edge reclaimed from the sea.
Our visit to Hong Kong in 2008 was during the annual typhoon season. It rained almost for the whole three day visit, heavily at times. The above view of Nathan Road was taken from the upper deck of the bus from the airport. As we alighted from the bus the skies opened, leaving our party of five with all our luggage stranded on the pavement and somewhat bewildered. Finally in the pouring rain we bundled ourselves into a taxi and were driven to our hotel.
One of the key attractions in the evening is to watch the nightly sound and light show on the buildings of the Wan Chai and Central districts on Hong Kong Island from in front of the Culture Centre at Kowloon. At the same time as the music and lights started, so did the rain. It came quickly and sent locals and tourists alike scurrying for whatever shelter they could find. This image was captured just as the rain began. Our hotel, the Salisbury (YWCA), overlooked the Culture Centre towards the island and we were able to see the end of the display through sheets of rain powered in by the rising high winds.
A favourite part of any Hong Kong visit for me is to cross the harbour on a Star ferry. These old-style ferries have been running for decades and are an iconic part of the HK landscape. A ride on a Star ferry provides views of both sides of the harbour and the volume of shipping that makes this one of the busiest entrepôts in the world. The ride starts at the Star Ferry Pier in Kowloon and ends at Central Pier on Hong Kong Island.
Central is the banking and commercial district of Hong Kong and is just as bustling as the as the more retail oriented Kowloon. Some of HK’s tallest buildings are in Central, which sits at the harbour edge below Victoria Peak.
Wan Chai is one of the older areas of Hong Kong Island and was made famous to many English and American moviegoers of the 1960s by the film “The World of Susie Wong”. Its a fascinating area to wander around as many of the older buildings nestled among the newer skyscrapers show distinct signs of decay.
Abutting Wan Chai is the Admiralty District which is home to the Bank of China Tower (abbreviated BOC Tower). It houses the headquarters for the Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited. Designed by I. M. Pei, the building is (including the two masts) 367.4 m (1,205.4 ft) high. It was the tallest building in Hong Kong and Asia from 1989 to 1992, and it was the first building outside the United States to break the 305 m (1,000 ft) mark. It is now the fourth tallest skyscraper in Hong Kong, after International Commerce Centre, Two International Finance Centre and Central Plaza (Wikipedia).
One of the best vantage points from which to appreciate Hong Kong is Victoria Peak (552 m). The public viewing area at the Peak Lookout and Galleria presents views over exclusive housing and towers of Central, Wan Chai, Admiralty and across Victoria Harbour to Kowloon and surrounding districts.
It was great to revisit Hong Kong in 2008, even if it rained for most of the time. This is one of my favourite Asian (even world) cities. It is a dynamic place, ever changing but still quintessentially Asian. It is modern, and old. Its a splendid mixture of international commerce and finance, and ordinary people going about their ordinary lives. Its a place of hustle and bustle, and hidden pockets where you can find peace and tranquility. Its a place of exclusive designer everything, and fake knock-offs of everything. I couldn’t live there for any great period of time, but love to revisit it as often as allows.