Hong Kong was an expensive and worthwhile pause between China and Vietnam. I spoke in English, ate foods that reminded me of home, and re-stocked on toiletries. This city amazed me. Signage is neon and loud, life is lived vertically, and the number of people was unbelievable.
Throughout Hong Kong I used Apple Pay to make purchases – a first! It is a fast and efficient system. Locals use their public transit card, called the Octopus card, as a debit card to pay for purchases. Other e-payment platforms like WeChat pay are also common. Cash is old news here.
A highlight of my travels is learning through immersion. Hong Kong (and really most places I will travel) is not an area I learned much about in school or have studied on my own. Visiting this city was a lesson in history including the Opium Wars, the 100+ years of British rule, Japanese occupation during WWII, and the current status of the country.
While understanding geo-politics from previous eras may not be critical to me at this moment, I know this broader context informs current culture and the decisions of leaders in business and politics. I am happy to be learning this information and often reflect on how special democracy in the United States is, even with its many problems.
Sometimes planning is flawed. From Guilin I flew to Kunming, China. From Kunming I flew to Hong Kong. In between the two flights there was a 6 hour lay over in the airport from 1:00am -7:00am. Sleeping was a challenge. And, if you look at my route, you will see I backtracked hundreds of miles for this flight. Live and learn.
Hong Kong was a British territory until 1997. Now it is a part of China but they operate under the mantra of, “One country, two systems.” Upon entering Hong Kong, I passed through customs but did not get a passport stamp. I did need to get a new SIM card, exchange RMB for Hong Kong Dollars, and speak English or Cantonese (well, English because I do not know Cantonese).
With thanks to travelers Jess and Sam who I met when we toured the Guilin rice terraces together, I knew to visit the market streets in Hong Kong’s Mong Kok district. Everything is for sale here and locals commonly shop in this neighborhood. Specific streets are dedicated to flower and bird markets.
Margarita, my biking pal from Yangshuo, is studying in Hong Kong. She met up with me for some exploring in parks, the harbor promenade, and Chungking Mansion.
Also thanks to Sam and Jess, I learned about Chunking Mansion and am reading Ghetto at the Center of the World to better understand the role of this space and it’s occupants in global commerce.
Can’t get enough of this skyline!
Riding the Star Ferry across Victoria Harbor from Kowloon To Hong Kong Island. The Hong Kong Tramways began operating in 1904.
At the top of Victoria Peak on Hong Kong Island is an observation deck. There are also restaurants and malls too. Because I visited on a holiday, it was faster to climb the hill (1800 feet) than wait for the famous Peak Tram.
After 4 nights in a windowless dorm in Guilin followed by a night sleeping in the airport, I was not surprised to have a cold. A patient pharmacist at a Watson’s in Hong Kong helped me find this medication. I am happy to report it worked great.
The traditional Mid-Autumn Festival was September 15. In a Hong Kong park young kids and their families celebrated by lighting lanterns and gathering together.