Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hong Kong Photo Essay


I was a little overwhelmed by Hong Kong when I first arrived, yet by the time I moved on to Japan four days later I had become, if anything, somewhat underwhelmed.

My father viewed a few of these snaps last week and commented that Hong Kong didn't quite look like it does in all the tourist brochures he's seen. Perhaps the latter don't put quite so much emphasis on the juxtaposition of swanky and shabby that had struck me so powerfully. For those parts of the city which don't look like the inside of a kind of mutant Selfridges (or at least the biggest airport departure lounge duty free emporium you've ever come across), are actually on the grotty side of grungey.

V has since berated me a little for not getting out of the compressed urban sauna and onto the outer islands where waterfalls and semi-pristine tropical forest awaited me. I did try to move around, spending my first two nights in Causeway Bay and then shifting onto the mainland with nights in Tsim Sha Tsui and then further north up Kowloon's Nathan Road in Mong Kok. I also spent a very pleasant evening at Raj's place on the north side of Hong Kong island which is certainly less developed.

The legacy of colonial rule and cultural interchange is less obvious than it is in Macau, and I was later on to feel much more at home with the superficial Britishness of Singapore. That said, Hong Kong fully deserves its moniker of 'Asia's World City' because none of the other places I visited were anywhere near as cosmopolitan. The food in Tokyo and Singapore is indeed wonderful, but it remains predominantly local food, whereas in HK's Causeway Bay one finds premium food halls (Gourmet, City'super) offering a smidgeon of just about everything from everywhere, from sushi to Taiwanese cookies, from tacos to the best selection of European cheeses I've seen anywhere in the world.

It's a great pity that the morning I chose to go up to The Peak the mountains behind the Central district were almost completely enveloped in fog, denying me the postcard view of the harbour below. The tram ride was properly atmospheric however.


No comments: