Hong Kong, ChinaHong Kong, China is a special economic zone with special rights the rest of China doesn't have. Formerly a British Colony and before that a Chinese port. Passed around more than the blame for Corona virus, currently Hong Kong actually enjoys more rights than in the last 120 years.
Intensely densely populated, unabashedly capitalist, modern and current with a connection to its Chinese past. Hong Kong is the former home of knockoff designer bags and swiss watches, and is now a financial hub that crosses cultural and political boundaries.
The ArrivalI landed in Hong Kong International early in the morning. I had a 8 hour layover, and with the first class flight in from JFK, I was pretty well rested already and decided this time (as opposed to the dozen or so other times) I would actually see the city and not just hang out in the lounges.
I went to the first class arrivals lounge, had breakfast, and was able to store my carry-on for free. Perfect, off to the rapid train to the city!
The train takes around 25 minutes, and as you scream to each of the 5 stops, you notice that basically everywhere is built up with high density housing for the millions that live and work here. Eventually you head under the harbor to the underground main station in Central, which is the actual downtown on the island of Hong Kong.
You exit into a mix of skyscrapers not far from the strait, or Victoria Harbor. The views of Kowloon to the north is fairly encompassing.
The IslandI started walking down to the shore. Nothing was open yet as it was still early Saturday morning. Walked about a bit, then went into the city commercial district of Central. Block long high end designers, Rolls and Bentleys driving along, probably the most rampant spot of consumerism in the world.
Going up the mountain in the alleys, the city starts to connect with the past. Open air markets of fresh produce made me wish I was staying longer, and had a place to cook. The smells were so raw and fresh, and while hard to explain, exceptionally Asian. I guess the best way to put this, is go to an Asian food market, and take a deep breath. Now imagine that, but much fresher. The experience is distinct and triggers subconscious reactions.
Continuing to the east, I came across the cable car track a ways up from the station. Downhill for once? Yes please. The path mirrored the tracks to the station. The wait list at 9ish am was already pretty long, so queue up I did. The price was about $7 USD. After a wait of 50 minutes, I'm finally up to the car and then up the mountain to the peak.
A blatant tourist location, high up on the mountain, there is a tower complex that contains shops, arcades, food, and lookout platforms. The view is astounding and starts to bring into perspective the amount of human impact on the land. It looks so pristine, and, well, it is a clean city.
After taking a shit ton of pictures, I took the tram way back down and walked to the main east-west road on the island, and over to the Pacific Place mall where my favorite HK clothing company, PYE, has a store. Flying first on Cathay, I had a few $100 HKD off coupons which made the clothing only cost about... a lot. Things can be very pricey here.
SummaryHong Kong is a modern, elegant, cosmopolitan city with a plethora of world class hotels, night clubs, some lounges, and shopping past the point of dropping. Kowloon also has some older markets with all kinds of knockoff goods. Haggling is expected there, but not in regular retail locations.
I love Hong Kong. I have been many, many times, and I am going to go many times again.