Some places could be defined with just a couple of words but these words say it all - this is the case of Hong Kong which for me is HECTIC, STUNNING and DELICIOUS!
Our Asia-Pacific adventure started in this city. It comprises a bunch of big islands like Hong Kong, Lantau with its airport runway next to the sea and Lamma with its air of a Tuscany dolce farniente, but also many smaller islands and some mainland - Kowloon and the New Territories - on the other side of Victoria Harbour. When we arrived from Europe at the end of May 2012 covered with warm clothes and felt this hot humid spicy ‘sea and holiday’ smell hitting us like a giant pleasure wave, we knew at that exact moment that we were going to love this place. Eventually, we left our hearts there!
It is for a reason that the name of the city in Chinese literally means the Perfumed Harbour! This place is an invitation to open all your senses and just dive into it! It is a gateway to a whole wonderful world out there - Asia-Pacific!
HONG KONG IS FIRST OF ALL HECTIC - there is so much energy everywhere! People are buzzing around in the north of Hong Kong and mainland Kowloon. It seems like the city never sleeps and the bright lights never switch off. The lights show on the skyscrapers which takes place every day is a real fairy of colours.
Despite its dizziness, Hong Kong remains one of the safest cities in the world with fewer offences per person even than Tokyo!
HONG KONG IS ALSO STUNNING, surrounded by this light mist covering the islands with a kind of mystery. The blue of the sea flowing into the blue of the sky without clear frontier. The green of the tropical forests. The golden of the sand beaches.
The joyful colours of the advertisements on the old trams. The bright red and golden of the temples.
Nature is everywhere! There are so many trails for hike-lovers in Hong Kong!
The most famous one is the Dragon's Back in the south of Hong Kong. It brings you on the top of a mountain with the form of a dragon’s back surrounded from both sides by the sea and a myriad of small islands and ends at a beautiful sandy beach. Also famous is the path to the statue of the Great Buddha on Lantau which, on your arrival, is sitting majestically on the top of the island and is looking at you with a peaceful welcoming smile.
Hong Kong by day is stunning, but Hong Kong by night is simply breathtaking!
You can see thousands and thousands of tiny illuminated windows on the skyscrapers all around you. You can stay still watching them for hours, wondering what the people inside are doing right now!
The temples will also gain all your senses with the colourful bright red and yellow lanterns and the offerings, the beautiful statues and wood paintings and the smell of the incense. Most of them are not completely covered allowing a view of the sky and giving this strange impression of close-to-nature freedom.
The colours and the fragrances are everywhere around you!
Wine with real snakes inside the bottles, dried lizards, edible bird’s nests and ginseng (a Chinese traditional medicinal plant) or a man fishing for dinner - there is a surprise at every single step while you are just walking on the busy streets or crossing them through an unbelievable maze of office buildings, dwellings, shiny malls and old-fashioned ateliers where you can buy handmade shoes suiting perfectly your feet!
The beauty is in the contrast.
A beautiful golden temple hidden in the middle of the skyscrapers. Old trams finding their way between double-deck modern buses. The Star Ferry which has been crossing the harbour between Hong Kong and Kowloon for more than a century (since 1888) overtaken by white sliding on the water yachts.
The sparkling bars around the business district and the fishing villages with sun-drying fish, red duck’s egg yolks and smelly brown Tai O shrimp paste.
The international cocktails and the refreshing red Mountain Begonia drink. The junks still used at the same time as boats and houses by the Tankas (also called ‘boat people’) and the luxurious floating Jumbo restaurant at Aberdeen Harbour.
The western-style brands and the local markets specialised in flowers, fish or birds.
The delicately presented afternoon tea with tiny scones and sandwiches and the generous cuisine from almost any province in China!
The modern art and the traditional Chinese architecture! You do not really know where to turn your eyes to anymore!
And then the views from the Peak by night, from the Dragon's Back in the surrounding mist or from the rooftop of one of the local typical wooden houses of Lamma drowned in the greenery - breathtaking!
HONG KONG IS LAST BUT NOT LEAST SIMPLY DELICIOUS. This is where the best dim sum in the world will melt your heart (the name literally means ‘touching your heart’ in Cantonese) and you will never ever have enough of them.
One of the greatest things is to try a place with trolleys full of looking delicious dumplings the stuffing of which is a mystery to you and to just pick up a plate when they go by your table or even go chasing one of them when you spotted a nice dim sum but was not quick enough to grab it in time! There is also a whole etiquette about eating dim sum, the most important of which is that it goes with tea (yum cha is the other important word to translate the act of eating dim sum and literally means ‘drink tea’)! The tea is also used to first clean your cup before you pour in it and if you want the waiter to bring some more tea, you just need to leave the lid of the kettle open at the end of the table!
You can also enjoy the amazing fish and seafood freshly caught by the locals, while admiring from a small seaside restaurant the reflections of the moon in the violet blue sea and inhaling the strong aromas of the seaweeds. It cannot be more romantic!
In Hong Kong you can feel this energy which does not let you close your eyes during the night! At the same time you only need to take a ferry or a cab and 15 minutes later you are in one of the quietest places in the world surrounded by beautiful nature and bird singing. There is something special, something you cannot describe but can only feel once you are there!
Ready for the crazy dive in the gateway of Asia-Pacific? Ready to have all your senses blown up by this unique part of the world? Follow us :-)!
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