Hong Kong – What to expect.

Hong Kong, a bustling metropolis only 1 100 sq kilometres yet home to over 7.5 million souls., 4th on the world listing for most densely populated.   But never, in my entire life have I felt so safe in a city, walking anywhere, anytime.   Timely to note too, this population have the longest life expectancy in the world.Every night is like a party in Hong Kong.   365 days of the year, the light display runs from 8pm for about 15-20 minutes.   Take a harbour cruise and view it from there as dusk falls, or make your way to the top of the Peak for a fabulous overview.   One night I simply walked to the harbour edge and viewed from there.   A camera cannot capture the breathtaking  experience the stunning light show gives.   Neon, spotlights, vivid colours piercing the night sky, this really is an experience not to be missed.  Best of all, its free, every single night.

Less than a nine hour flight from Brisbane, Hong Kong is within reasonable reach.  The airport itself is an experience, disembark your plane, make your way to the lift down to the train level. Every few minutes a free train pulls up, on you hop, then at the next station, disembark to head through immigration and collect your baggage.   Interesting introduction to Hong Kong plus surprisingly easy when you work out what to do!

Now I hear you asking what if you get lost?  I only speak English what would I do?   Absolutely no problem at all.   Everywhere around the airport, in shopping malls, there are people to help guide you.   English is widely spoken, signs have English transalation (as you can see below).  Any accommodation you stay at is most likely to have English speaking employees, with a level of service possibly beyond what you are used to.

One of the deepest harbours in the world, Hong Kong harbour and the Port are incredibly busy.  Containers and cranes were massed together, dominating what seemed a massive landscape. Scattered across the harbour you will see an array of ships & boats, ranging in size from huge container or cruise ships to the more intimate Dukling.  Below you can see a red sailed Dukling next to a cruise ship, with the back drop of Hong Kong Central about to light up.

Keep in mind too, Hong is split into two main islands, Hong Kong Central & Kowloon Peninsula. Plus another 260 or so smaller islands.   I stayed on Kowloon at Tsim Sha Tsui for work purposes.  However it doesn’t really matter, depending on what your requirements are.   The ferry is a short few minutes between the main islands.   Grab an Octopus card, (newsagents, 7-Elevens sell these amongst other places),  load a few HK dollars on and you are off.  Train systems are split into coloured line tracks.   Easy to navigate, plus there’s a big red bus system, not on the octopus card but you will find the ticket sellers around the city, usually near the harbour.  A good system to get your bearings and see the city.  If you prefer to walk, there are huge subway tunnels under the city, good if you are in a rush to get somewhere or dont wish to negotiate the hustle & bustle of the crowds on the street.  Personally I preferred the street, more to see up there.

Construction is everywhere.   Hong Kong harbour is reducing in size as the land, a very precious commodity here, is ‘reclaimed’.   Reclaiming involves moving soil onto the harbour edge and compacting it into land so more buildings can arise.   For those in the construction industry, the scaffolding here had me in complete awe.   Bamboo rising as high as the eye could see, strapped together, even with ladders.  No safety harnesses here, simply skim up through the scaffolding, these workers have no fear.If you are not accustomed to double decker buses, you are about to be.   Taxis (which seemed to all be the same older style Toyota) and double decker buses, are the main modes of transport on the streets.  90% of Hong Kong residents, travel by public transport, which includes the easy to navigate train system and ferries.   Taxis are often a bit beaten around the edges, and apparently, no issue if you have too much luggage, drivers seemed to carry bungy straps!  I shall also note here, I didn’t just see this once..it was on many occasions!  Side note, did you see the number of taxis and double decker buses just in this shot.Cars appear to be a status symbol here.  Yes they drive on left hand side in Hong Kong, but road rules I’m still trying to work out.  Cars take precedence over pedestrians, keep that one in mind!  Everyone swaps lanes, distance between vehicles appears to be mere centimetres , or possibly millimetres, and yet, when you see private cars, over 95% of what I saw, where polished, clean, no dents.  Type?  Well here a Bugatti, there a Ferrari, BMW’s, Mercedes, oh look a Bentley.  I would have to say the BMW’s and Mercedes became common place cars amongst some of the others I saw.  And then I saw a Ford Festiva…

As a lone female in Hong Kong, I did initially hold concerns as to safety.  However I would have to say the only people who stand out on these streets are blonde, curly hair or tall.  Well I took out the first two and part of the third, so I was a target for the tailors and those selling knock off handbags & watches.  These are the the only hawkers who will approach you.   I tried to be polite and talk at first, but that didnt work.  By the end of the first day I worked out my approach, walk determinedly like you know where you are going, dont make eye contact (honestly these guys stand out like beacons in their suits, flicking their business card out), as they approach hold up your hand and say no thank you, but keep moving.   Worked a trick!  Only one persisted.   I stopped turned toward him, and stated” I said no thank you.”  He walked away.  Problem solved.  No apologies here, it was rude of you to persist.

Are you a shopper? Well you are about to be satisfied by acres upon acres of imacculate high end shopping centres.  Mass consumerism is definitely a huge part of this society.  I never knew there where so many high end brands in the world.   There are shops where security will ask you if you are there to purchase, if not you may have to leave.  Oh and word to the wise, happily snapping shop fronts and inside shops could well get you in trouble with security.   My bad, I did wonder why they looked at me funny!  Price wise, unless you go to the Spring or other sales, you will pay the same, if not more than Australia.   However, the experience will far outweigh those purchases!

Oh and some of these dont open until 10 or 11 am, but they don’t close for 12 hours each day either – and that is probably seven days a week!

There’s more to come, as I tell you about what to see, in this jam packed interesting part of the globe.  Will I go back YES, and if I have to will this be alone, well big yes because again, here I can walk anywhere 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and feel safe.  Sadly it may because of a highly self absorbed society, but for me, a massive feeling of unreal freedom.  

Pictured below is the entrance to shopping centre, 1881 Heritage.  If you ever have the opportunity to experience this unique part of the world, I would highly recommend you do.  I’ve barely scratched the surface, and still dont feel like I know Hong Kong, yet, I’m safe.  Another side note, try a Hong Kong Dim Sum Restaurant, wonderful!  Would love to know your thoughts!

Oh and if you come across a small door or stairway as you flow with the sea of bodies on the street , you cant check them all out, but sometimes, you might find an interesting place!

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