Hong Kong makes a great stopover destination on the way to Europe. It’s also an enticing destination in itself.
- despite being a fast-moving, first-world city of glam designer stores, exotic 5-star restaurants and high-speed rail links, parts of Hong Kong still seethe with the steamy, urban madness of earlier days. Inner city districts likeTokwawan are still very traditional areas, crowded with daily markets that spill out on to the streets. Ribs and shanks hang in the sultry alleyways, awaiting the butcher’s knife. Piles of brightly coloured fruits and veges, whole stalls of steamed dumplings and strange little shops selling pungent Chinese herbs and medicines add to the sensory maelstrom. This is heartland Kowloon.
- visit the neon-flashing, Gucci and Rolex sidewalks of Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui. This is the other face of Kowloon – shopping, tourists, high rise hotels, scammers and hawkers.
- in sharp contrast, just a short Star Ferry ride away Central is a fast-moving corporate town and commercial hub on Hong Kong Island It’s a suffocating mass of people, and all around the skyline bristles with some of the most exciting high-rise buildings on the planet.
- leaving the ferry we were swept along the raised pedestrian walkway linking the waterfront with Exchange Square and Connaught Road, a moving mass of fast-talking, fast-walking people, cellphones glinting like pistols in their hands. The smells and sounds are different on this side of the harbour – fast traffic, office workers, and loud machinery building yet more high-rise buildings.
- the crowds got less as we headed east along Queens Road, but the buildings got bigger. The shiny HSBC Bank tower rose above us like a magnificent monolith, but, in turn, paled against the striking beauty of the new Bank of China tower.
- Victoria Peak was once a bastion of European settlement, where the English retreated during the steaming summer months for some cool, clear air far above the sweltering land below. A funicular rail car takes the hard work out of the 554 metre climb, and was once a favourite outing for colonial families.
Back down on Queens Road sleek, metallic designer stores vie for position beside international banks and high rise offices. It’s a far cry from the sidewalk markets and fish stalls of Kowloon. Hong Kong is a small land of big contrasts.
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SUE FARLEY – NZ TRAVEL BROKERS – Nelson
phone: 021 555836 firstname.lastname@example.org
(C) by Sue Farley