What I love about the Indonesian islands
What I loved about Vietnam

What I love about Hong Kong

Happy Wednesday and greetings from a cold, cloudy Atlantic Ocean.

Well, just a few days left until we reach land and my dreams of whiling away the hours sitting on my balcony enjoying a little sun are not quite the same in reality:-). However, the weather gives me the perfect excuse to catch up on my travel updates.

We spent two days in Hong Kong and, even though I have been there several times, it's still a vibrant, interesting and exciting city to revisit anytime.  As I have done most of the tourist sites in Hong Kong including Stanley Market, Maccau, Lantau, etc. I decided to do a scenic/panoramic tour of Hong Kong and revist some of my favorite views.

Before we get to some photos how about some interesting facts about Hong Kong:

  • Although Hong Kong is renowned for it's very famous towering skyscrapers that dominate the skyline, 40% of the territory is made up of green spaces and the green spaces provide a fabulous backdrop to the skyscrapers.
  • Although Hong Kong island is the best known of the islands, there are in fact 263 islands.
  • 4 and 8 are very important numbers.  You will never find a 4th floor on any building as the Mandarin word for 4 sounds like the word for death.  On the other hand, 8 is a very auspicious number as it sounds like the word for making a fortune.  888 is considered exceptionally auspicious and personal number plates incorporating 8 sell for high prices in Hong Kong.
  • Even though Mandarin is the most spoken form of Chinese, Cantonese is spoken by the majority of those living in Hong Kong.
  • Although Hong Kong was part of the British Colonies, it was first discovered by a Portugues explorer Jorge Alvares.  However, it's worth noting that the earliest settlers date back over 30,000 years.
  • On our first visit to Hong Kong Lou very proudly took me to a vegetarian and health food restaurant. Imagine my surprise when I found fried ants on drunken scorpion on the menu!  Yep.... and the dish was exactly as it sounded.... fried black ants poured over a scorpion that had been cooked in alcohol.  Needless to say.... it was a dish I did not order!
  • Despite the green spaces, Hong Kong has nearly 7,000 people per square mile.

One of my favorite tours that I ever did in Hong Kong was on an ancient sampan to visit the old floating fishing village in Aberdeen.  It is home to over 600 junks and 6,000 people.  It was wonderful to watch such an old way of life in such a modern harbor.  The wonderful old junks had dogs that barked at us as they defended their territories.  The families lived out their lives on these old sampans and junks.  However, over the decades, these have disappeared and the quaint (but dangerous) village has now given way to shiny new yachts and the world's largest floating restaurant.  Here's a representative photo from 1993

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And a more recent photo showing what you are more likely to see today

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Feng Shui is important to many Chinese - as we saw earlier with the numbers 4 and 8.  I've always been fascinated by this building in Repulse Bay (a very exclusive address!)  The expensive apartment buildings were built in front of the mountain behind.  The shape of the mountain resembles a Chinese dragon and the builders believed that they needed to provide a space for the dragon that inhabited the mountain to go down to the bay to drink.  If they fully blocked the access the dragon would be angry and would cure the inhabitants with bad luck.  So, a conveniently placed hole was designed into the middle of the apartment block.

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Repulse Bay is interesting - it is cram packed full of modern and older apartment blocks and has magnificent views of the bay.  During the time that Hong Kong was a British territory the original Brits built on the Peak - photos coming up - as the views from the Peak are absolutely magnificent.  Many of the wealthier locals lived in the Repulse Bay area as the air is cooler and less humid.  When I first visited Hong Kong back in the 90s there were thousands of ex-pats living and working in Hong Kong and many of them lived in Repulse Bay in what were extremely expensive apartments - most of them paid by their employers.  It was a lucrative gig for the ex-pats I can tell you.  Housing and schooling paid for, massive salaries and fairly extravagant lifestyles.  All that came to a fast halt though when Hong Kong was passed back to the Chinese in 1997!

Here's a shot of a portion of Repulse Bay looking back to the harbor of Hong Kong

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And another showing some of the magnificent buildings on the bay side:

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One of my favorite photos though is one that I took when we did a quick stop to go put our toes into the sand on the beach.  The coach stopped opposite a cat adoption place.  The cats were beautifully looked after and were on full display in the hope of finding their perfect fur-ever home.  This little guy caught my eye as he reminds me of my wonderful cat, Charlie.  Even though Charlie is 14 years old he still plays with his tail.  This little guy in the shop window was doing exactly the same!

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Anyway, onto the amazing sites from Victoria Peak.  With views like these it's easy to see why real estate is so expensive in Hong Kong.  Where the average price is about 20,000 USD per square meter.  Although, the expensive houses on the peak can reach nearly $500,000 a square meter!

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I loved these round condos - and you have to admit - the Peak as a background is rather fabulous!

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One of the largest homes on the Peak is this one.  Said to belong to a Hong Kong billionaire who had to create a house with two distinct floors - one for his wive and one for his mistress.  The views from the house are insane.  Obviously, no-one invited me in to take a photo - so I had to make do with a photo from the outside!  It really isn't leaning but I had to rush to take this photo as we were going around the corner.

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The house has completely uninterrupted views of the harbor - 280 degree views that is - and has Victoria Peak and all the beautiful green space from the Peak right behind it.

Mind you, I prefer this old building that I managed to capture just a slight view of the gate and the edge of the building.  It was on the opposite side of the road to the Billionaire's house.  For me it was on the "right" side of the road.  Meaning the road was behind it and not in front of it, like the Billionaire's house.  I loved the amazing gates and the traditional architecture that you can see peaking out:

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This one of the buildings down by the harbor - near the CBD.  I just fell in love with the way they had incorporated gardens into the space:

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Here's another building whose design really caught my eye:

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As we were getting close to the harbor we came across a massive shopping centre called the Mega Mall (how appropriate!). but it was the sculpture outside that really caught my attention.  I'm guessing that the meaning of it is to try to showcase the types of items you can find in stores in the Mall.  Whatever the reason for it, I thought it was genius and I loved that it was round in a city that has millions of right angles!

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Once back on the ship night was starting to fall and I decided to take some night shots from my balcony.  What I forgot to do was take a day shot!!!

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Much later I went back out onto the balcony - it would have been long after midnight - and the lights had dimmed and the view was even more magical because of it

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A few final thoughts on Hong Kong:

  • Many people on the world cruise had done HK before and decided not to get off.  For me, it doesn't matter how many times I visit HK, I would always get off as there is so much to see.
  • It's a crazy, insane, busy, noisy, bright, frenetic place, but has a wonderful charm because of it's backdrop.  The mountains behind are beautiful and not only do they provide the perfect place to build really expensive homes and condos, but they provide a much needed backdrop of green that never loses it's charm.
  • If you ever visit, you have to walk through the old town.  The beautiful traditional buildings with the skyscrapers in the background are amazing.   You should also visit the Big Buddah on Lantau Island.  You have to walk up 268 steps to reach it, but it is amazing when you get to it.  Stanley Market is also a must see in Hong Kong.
  • Whether you are into Chinese food (sadly, I'm not), modern architecture, green spaces, amazing shopping or just watching the world go by, Hong Kong is the place to do all of those things and you will never get bored.  Well, at least I don't!

I'll be back tomorrow with my next stop - Vietnam.  In the meantime, warm hugs and prayers for those of you who need a little lift tonight.




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Ann Schach

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Hong Kong through your eyes! I learn so much from your posts! Enjoy the rest of your journey. It doesn't seem like it will soon be ending. Hugs!

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