After years of trying, I finally made it to Hong Kong, and as expected, it was very curious visit, and yet a very interesting one. It was never going to be a genuine holiday, as I always felt there was not enough there to keep me busy. Was I right? No, I suppose I was somewhat wrong, too low and dismissive in my expectations.. But the very character of the place suggested to me though that it was never going to be one of my favorite cities. Some things were still very obvious; the old British colonial framework, the empowering architecture all around, the very efficient Metro system, and the rampant commercialism; all seemed genuine at my street level, and fitted nicely with the new assertive Chinese character. I say new because in 1997 the colony of Hong Kong was returned to the People’s Republic of China, and is governed under the new China mandate – one country, two systems. This allows the former colony a great degree of autonomy at least for the next fifty years. This also allows the country to maintain its reputation as a major international trade port, and financial centre. It would be very interesting to see how it all turns out in years to come.
I found it much more expensive than the mainland, and in some ways lacking the charm of Shanghai, or Beijing. Yet, I am told, it is a tourist magnet, and as crowded as you would expect in places where tourism is quite prevalent. I would have like to see more of what it looked like outside the main city limits, especially in areas like the New Territories, but there was not enough time. I enjoyed the ambience of the place, but I would absolutely hate to have to live in one of those slender tower blocks, which appeared everywhere. Sited as one of most densely populated places in the world, I can understand why skyscrapers would be the obvious answer to any housing problems.
My most interesting moments were spent looking around one of the city malls (places which I normally avoid), ignoring the overpriced clothes shops, and stalking out the international restaurant cuisine. Yes, I did find some absolutely splendid meals which were totally enjoyable.