Beijing was downright cold. Shanghai was a bit chilly. Ah Hong Kong. Take off the coat and roll up the sleeves. The weather’s just right.
I landed in Hong Kong on Thursday afternoon (Nov 19) and checked into the Hotel Panorama in Kowloon. With a name like “panorama” I was hoping for a view. I wasn’t disappointed. The front desk upgraded me to a premium room with a dead on view of Victoria Harbor and the Hong Kong city skyline. The nighttime lights are truly something to behold. Never thought brightly lit billboards mounted on skyscrapers could be so aesthetically pleasing. It somehow works in Hong Kong. When the sun goes down the city lights come alive! See short video clip from the Panorama sky deck > HERE
The scarcity of buildable land area in Hong Kong has resulted in densely packed skyscrapers to the heavens. They build up not out. Some of the most striking architecture in the world can be found here.
Hong Kong and the surrounding islands have a population of about 7 million and two-thirds of the inhabitants live in clustered apartment towers that seem to be everywhere. In most neighborhoods air-conditioners decorate the outside of these towers and double as close-line anchors. Hong Kong apartment dwellers leave a small carbon footprint by air-drying their laundry. The building exteriors are quite colorful.
Hong Kong is a land of stark contrasts. The filthy rich juxtaposed with the nearly destitute. It makes for some interesting street scenes. If you walk downtown Kowloon at night you are sure to see the latest model BMW, Audi, and Mercedes Benz cruising the scene. I don’t know if there’s a “no clunker” rule in Hong Kong, but every car you see has a shiny new coat of polish. Who is behind the wheel of these gorgeous machines? Wealthy Hong Kong wives out for some power shopping on Canton Road? Or perhaps businessmen on route to rendezvous with their Kowloon mistresses?
The crowded streets of Kowloon are quite a scene at night. The downtown area is lit up by neon. Everywhere you look there are brightly glittering signs to attract your attention and entice you to step inside. While opulence is on display, you need only turn your head to find those who are scratching out a living by hustling the streets. In the four days that I spent in Hong Kong I must have been asked 50 times if I was looking for a tailored shirt or suit, 90 times if I wanted a “Rolex” watch and 100 times if I needed a “foot massage.” The men in Hong Kong must have tired feet because there are evidently hundreds of “foot massage” parlors.
My first full day in Hong Kong was devoted to playing tourist. In the morning I visited Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island, and the Tian Tan Buddha and then later in the day I went to lunch at Jumbos, the famous floating restaurant in Aberdeen Harbor. I also rented a sampan for the obligatory harbor tour. Many thousands in Hong Kong live aboard their junks and sampans … a humble but seemingly happy existence.
A bit later in the day I took a taxi over the mountains and down into the town of Stanley just east of Repulse Bay. Glad I did so. Stanley is a charming seaside village that’s reminiscent of the Amalfi Coast of Italy. There’s a thriving outdoor market and many waterside cafes. The village center has an open amphitheater and I was lucky enough to saunter by during an orchestra performance.
After picking up a few nick knacks in the bustling street market, I followed my nose down a side alley and into an interesting under ground restaurant. This authentic Chinese establishment was all done in traditional carved wood and stone. I had a truly excellent and inexpensive dinner there and now I’m kicking myself for not writing down the name of this hole-in-the-ground eatery.
I would put Stanley on the highly recommended places to visit while in Hong Kong.
The sun was setting and time to grab a cab for the scenic drive back to Kowloon. Later that evening I took a stroll through the city streets and into several of the many dozens of camera stores in the tourist zone. They all have iPhones for sale … click over to iPhonAsia Travelogue Part 7 for the full story on iPhone distribution in Hong Kong.
iPhonAsia Travelogue series (Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong):
- iPhonAsia Travelogue Part 1: Wheels down in Beijing
- iPhonAsia Travelogue Part 2: Getting Oriented in Beijing
- iPhonAsia Travelogue Part 3: Into the heart of darkness – shopping the Beijing iPhone blackmarket
- iPhonAsia Travelogue Part 4: No stop signs in Beijing – The Shanzhai ji counterfeit culture
- iPhonAsia Travelogue Part 5: Secret rooms with hidden Shanzhai treasures (Shanghai)
- iPhonAsia Travelogue Part 6: Warming up in Hong Kong
- iPhonAsia Travelogue Part 7: The Hong Kong iPhone market