Eleven days here. Some might say that is way too many. In many ways I’m of the same sentiment, however I have enjoyed this city so much, and the locals who have shared it with me.
Hong Kong is so electric, in the literal and the figurative. Neon signs flash just above head level while the streets are swarmed with locals and tourists – all with their face attached to their smartphone.
The countless markets with no room for those unequipped to bargain, regardless of the language being spoken, will send you into a feel for old China. Actually, it was here I learned the term “lah” is not from Malaysia, but China! Ok lah. For such an expensive city, you really don’t have to look far for a deal on knock off gear. The Ladies Market, Goldfish Market, and Stanley Market are just a few of the better known markets within this city, with countless others to peruse.
I’ll admit though, I’m not a big city person. I’m more keen on spending my time in the forest, on the beach or in the jungle. Not so much the concrete jungles of the world. This is one reason, as a tourist, eleven days may have worn on me a bit. Through my first experience with Couchsurfing I learned from my awesome host that Hong Kong is only 26% urban, which was music to my ears. Luckily Hong Kong is so efficient and impossible to get lost in, so making it outside of the city was a piece of cake. I found myself at the end of the MTR line, looking for a cemetery to hike through so I could get to the trail head. But… I got kind of lost. In this efficient, impossible to get lost in city. The further outside of main Hong Kong city you go, the less English you hear. So out came the hand signals and big smiles! After a few semi productive interactions with random locals, I found my mark. Up 400 stairs or so, through tombstones, I made it to the Dragons Back trail head which I took down to Big Wave Bay. Shirt off, beer open, a nap ensued. Peace and regeneration at last.
Within the city you can hike up to Victoria’s Peak, and take the scenic loop around, enjoying the classic, stunning views of Hong Kong. Just don’t get lost like I did, and end up on some other peak where apartment complexes sit, fenced in by barbed wire. Good thing my hand signals are on point, and I was able to get back on track here too.
During my first few days here, I decided to check out Occupy central. The Umbrella Movement is real. It is inspiring to walk on the main highway thats been shut down as if it were the apocalypse, littered with tents, medical stations, makeshift restaurants, and libraries. They have turned this highway into their own community. The contrast between the towering sky rises, worth billions, standing tall above the young men and women fighting for the CHANCE to vote on their future, is powerful. I know the government ordered the shut down of this center a few days before I left. I hope they continue to fight against a system designed to keep them on the outside looking in. I think the world can learn from the situation here. Peacefully making moves against corruption, one umbrella at a time.
I’ve gone this whole time and I haven’t even mentioned THE FOOD! As a recent lover of dim sum, I can say the best in the world sits right here in Hong Kong. I’m positive there are wonderful 5 star restaurants here, but that’s not my style. I look for the hole in the wall. The place where I get all sorts of strange looks when I walk through the door. I want to be the only foreigner in there. I’ve devoured shrimp, pork, shanghai, and veggie dumplings like a garbage disposal. Pork buns free flowing through my body at all times. Spicy beef brisket noodle soups for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Unashamed as I slurp away, blow my nose and wipe the sweat off my brow. I truly love the food here. In fact, writing this has me starving again, even though I just inhaled enough dim sum for three. 5-2 odds I stop for a spicy soup dish on my way to the bus stop.
You know what? I’ve changed my mind. Eleven days was not too much time to spend in Hong Kong, it was just right. Hong Kong has been good to me, the people have shown me incredible hospitality and the hidden gems this international hub has to offer, whether its losing money betting on Horses at Happy Valley, hitting the countless hikes, or just wandering the streets on the prowl for good food and cheap suits.
I’m going to cruise the waterfront one last time before I head to the airport, and may or may not get some grub on the way. (I think you know where to put your money)
P.S. look what I was going to write initially:
For all its efficiency, Hong Kong sure is exhausting. Granted, I am coming from Sabah, where the winter clothes consist of tank tops and flip flops, and the hustle and bustle of the city is confined to the two major shopping malls. Hong Kong is another animal all together. A dim sum filled, handrail grabbing animal with its eyes glued to its smartphone.
Oh how time changes all.