Nov 10, 2013

Destination Asia: Hong Kong

Overcast Hong Kong sky

It's a rare occasion for me to travel to Asian countries. Not to toot my own horn but as far as globetrotting is concerned I've been to more European countries than Asia (so far Singapore and Vietnam are the only Asian destinations that I've been to). When my sister asked me and the whole family (including my two cousins) (!) about travelling to Hong Kong, I jumped at the opportunity to explore the world-famous city. Being in Hong Kong feels like a trip to a fluctuating time machine. It is a complicated metropolis with a mixed cultural/socio-economical landscape where East meets West, the old is gradually replaced by the new, the poor and the rich walk side by side on the pavement, run down government housing flats sandwiched in between sleek luxury condos and office. To be honest there's not much sight-seeing to be done in Hong Kong - being a small, overly populated island almost every inch of habitable land is occupied with the latest construction site/projects, be it a new MTR (their version of subway) station or another state-of-the-art skyscraper. Thus our trip focused on exploring in and around Kowloon (the mainland) and Hong Kong island, mostly at the periphery of its shores, as that's where most of tourist attractions are...

Bauhinia blakeana - Hong Kong national flower

My trip was bound with the tourist guide for the first two days. Of course you'd suggest travelling in the packed HK sans guide, but bear in mind an eight month old baby, a seven-year old girl and my middle-aged parents were tagging along (the memory of travelling with a group of eleven after my graduation in Russia inevitably lingers: looking back at my older entries I really sounded bitter and as if I've lost all hopes though! shudders)... So we thought it would be best to travel with the convenience of a bus and somebody with acceptable English proficiency to escort us during the first few days there.  I felt we could do the excursions on our own mostly - although I can't deny some trivial Hong Kong facts by insiders are actually interesting, including funny anecdotes like how European tourists ask more history-oriented questions compared to Asians who are more interested in knowing where the nearest shopping malls/outlets are - as the guide just brought us to the clich├ęd tourist attractions that are Madame Tussauds wax museum (separate post in detail soon), the site of the golden Bauhinia kaleana (HK national flower), a visit to the fisherman village and a browse at the Hong Kong jewellery centre (mum was super excited and so attentive, that she actually won a garnet stone after answering a pop quiz there!).


The boats of the fishermen. Previously, during the 1950s, the sight of traditional boats are almost everywhere in the waters of Hong Kong. Nowadays their numbers are depleting, thanks to the rapid development of the nearby area. Today, a fisherman's boat is typically furnished with modern electrical appliances like air-con and refrigerators.
Details of the a fisherman boat's roof
JUMBO: A floating restaurant at the fisherman village area, touted to be the biggest of its kind in the world.

Later on when we were on our own we took the chance to appreciate the ultra-modern Hong Kong skyline via the wonderful laser-and-light display (not to mention synthesiser music-ridden) called A Symphony of Lights at Victoria Harbour, had a walk in Kowloon Park after praying at the nearby Kowloon Mosque where I found, for the first time in my life, a plastic kopiah for visitors to wear during prayer. Talk about efficiency and convenience. We also shopped for kitschy souvenir items (my family's fav) at the Ladies Market. Finally the last day was spent at none other than Disneyland Resort Hong Kong. Sadly this whole shebang was not much of a fashion-centric journey, save for a quick paparazzi-style snap at the Contemporary Fix shop (a separate post will follow). Oh, no outlet shopping too as we were pressed for time prioritising the main touristy areas...

Kowloon Mosque

Flock of pigeons at Kowloon Park
Sculptures at Kowloon Park
Bright, part fluorescent, mass produced random knick knacks
Cheeky shop names along Nathan Road
Nathan Road at night
The flashing lights at Victoria Harbour
Ma famille et moi
My adorable niece Adra. She's been a very good girl throughout the trip - no incessant unbearable crying at all!

Words and images by Hafidzudin Zainal

3 comments:

thompsonboy said...

"there's not much sight-seeing to be done " Seriously?

naboonies said...

thompsonboy, I feel as an outsider sight-seeing is quite limited in HK as skyscrapers predominate the touristy areas. I could be wrong though - might be missing savvy insiders' tips.

Have you been there?

thompsonboy said...

Yes, HK is so dynamic and energetic. There are also islands outside of HK, nature -beach, peaks for hiking and of course food (but tough if you are after halal type of food)

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