Wednesday, March 9, 2016

March 6th-8th - Hong Kong

Every year I come to Hong Kong, I'm always amazed by the city's intense commercial focus. The place is totally dedicated to getting people to part with cash – whether that's in its luxury boutiques or in its rough-and-ready street markets, in posh gourmet restaurants or in down and dirty food stalls, this town is all about consumption.

Our three days here enabled us to concentrate on Hong Kong's main priorities – food and shopping – but, we also explored some parts of the territory that we hadn't visited before, and had time to have a good catch up with different friends who we haven't seen for a while.

For once, the weather was clear for our arrival (narrated from the bridge by me), before Hong Kong's trademark clouds rolled in and enveloped its breathtaking skyline for most of the next couple of days. On our first day, we headed up to the incredibly busy Ladies Market in Mongkok, and continued onto the goldfish market and then the bird market – considering how so much of Hong Kong is mainstream retail these days, it was good to see that off-beat markets like the quirky bird market still have a place here.

On our second day, it was all about food. We headed over to the skyscraper-packed streets of Central to gorge ourselves on a delicious Peking Duck lunch, before heading back in the evening to Sheun Wan for a Teochew lunch at the opposite end of the gourmet scale (still very tasty though).

On our third day, we got a glimpse of a totally different side of Hong Kong, at the tranquil Chi Lin Nunnery in Diamond Hill. We'd left behind the claustrophobic streets of Kowloon to visit this gorgeously calm nunnery and perfectly groomed garden – it was a wonderful contrast. It almost felt like we'd been transported to rural China; although, just to remind you that this was Hong Kong, the background to the whole complex was line after line of tall residential tower blocks, while the hum of nearby traffic was the constant background noise.

Hong Kong is like nowhere else on earth – you can spend a fortune, or find incredible bargains; you can eat like a king, or feast on down-to-earth classics; you can feel utterly surrounded by hordes of  people, yet find oases of calm and tranquillity. What a place!