It feels a little unfamiliar, strange but nonchalantly done to write 2024. A new year with new experiences, different perspectives and yet the same bills to pay, the same desires and concerns.
All of this and more is what I felt being back in Hong Kong. I was here over 30 years ago, and I cannot remember much about me being there, as I look hard, deep into my memories no visual images are be recalled, none of my senses are awakened to a smell, sound, sight remembered.
The flight out was a long, hard one, 12 hours and 9 minutes, nothing compared to the 14 hours and 31 minutes I did coming back, that should be left for another storytelling opportunity.
The first thing that struck me as I was walking through the bustling Hong Kong Airport was how clean it was, spotless. This would remain an observation the entire stay. Along those lines, I did not see one homeless person as I walked around both Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. Something that is unmissable in the UK and USA. Are the Chinese better at hiding it or is it simply not there? I don’t know the answer to that. Second observation, much the same as in India, I am in the minority now, I stand out, I am also different and am highly aware of that. In some ways it makes me feel good, in many other ways I feel vulnerable, detached, exposed.
Both evenings I stayed in Kowloon, walking about the beautiful promenade, the Avenue of Stars, taking in the stunning, neon, artificially-lit Hong Kong Island skyline. Iconic is the only word, a scene like this you could look at many times and find something new to look at every time. There were hundreds of people out, taking photos, talking, listening to music, just enjoying the moment. No rush, the occasional jogger streaming past, trying to make their life a little better.
During day one I headed over to Hong Kong Island and up Victoria Peak. I took the MTR underground train from Tsim Sha Tsui station, one stop to Admiralty. Walked to the Peak Tram and took that to the Peak.
From the top of Victoria Peak, you are treated to a spectacular view of Victoria Harbour with Hong Kong Island on one side and Kowloon on the mainland. I walked about Lugard Road, a pleasing little road that circumvents the Peak. If you ever make it to Hong Kong, you HAVE to do this little walk, it is only 3.5 kilometres, and the views are superb. Not only are you treated to the views, you are also educated as you go with fabulous information boards that describe the geology, fauna and wildlife that you are encountering.
At one point I came across Pinewood Battery, an old army outpost from the 1930’s. As I stood reading information regarding where I was, I became aware of something shifting through the earth a few feet away from me. I looked up to see a wild hog, snuffling, searching for food. It was completely oblivious to me, as it was of the black Labrador that a local lady was walking. Of course, the Lab saw the hog and made a beeline for it. Thus ensued a humorous few minutes of lady shouting after dog, resulting in her proclaiming “I’m going to the toilet, I am going to the toilet”, which actually worked, and the dog returned!
My time in Hong Kong was refreshing, enchanting, and captivating. I felt at home, seeing signs, names of brands, things to eat that were extremely familiar to me. But at the same time, I felt completely deficient in being able to communicate, blend in, and relax. I enjoy being out of my comfort zone and feel Hong Kong is a place that if I had the time could come to love. Give it a try, you won’t regret it.