It seems like most travelling Kiwis have been to or through Hong Kong for work or pleasure at some point. This could be because it is on the way to places (China and Europe for example) or it could be that they are a relatively close neighbour.
At any rate. It is a place where a lot of people I know have been, and most of the reviews I have gotten from people say that they really enjoyed it here.
I’m not so enamoured. We are staying in an incredibly nice hotel with harbour views in Kowloon. The population density here is some of the tightest packed on the planet. A couple of ferry rides around the corner is a green island-like oasis where my friend Krissy lives with her three fabulous kids.
My kids have been watching the old Hong Kong Phooey cartoons as my mother packed them up especially for them knowing we would be here in Hong Kong. She’s good with shit like that. I am proper blessed to have a mother and friend as engaged and adventurous as my rolly polly little mamma bear.
So. Hong Kong. What can I say.
I don’t hate it here, and to be fair to Hong Kong, I am in a fairly fed up state of mind already thanks to a string of bad news and a couple of recent (and somewhat sudden) deaths. I won’t get into any of that, except to say the grief almost certainly plays a part in tainting the lens I am looking at Hong Kong through.
Where do I start.
I am here with my mom and two youngest children Adam (nearly 7) and James (3). It is actually incredibly kid friendly here.
Fun fact while I am on the subject of kid friendly. Our hotel is just around the corner from ChunKing Mansions, where all the drug trafficking and other such excitement occurs. If you get asked if you want to buy a watch here, they are trying to sell you hash. They will also be brazen enough to just say: “Hey, lady, you wanna buy some hashish!?” And the answer is a resounding no. No I do not, but thank you so much for assuming I might have a desire to partake in such activities at 2:00pm on a Monday afternoon. And the offers for watches and drugs so not wane when I am pushing a pram or holding a baby while I walk by. Strange but not overly intrusive, so I just thought I’d take a moment to mention this anomaly for those traveling to Kowloon who may or may not be interested in such activities.
There’s a large Indian population in Kowloon, and I ventured through some of the back allies and into some of the Indian markets where I was regarded as a bit of a curiosity as I think it is mainly locals that frequent these fragrant locations. The smell of curries and the sound of bartering made me smile, which confused some of the merchants into stopping and doing a double take as I walked by, I assume because smiling like an idiot is not the sort of thing that the locals do much.
Kowloon also has the museums and tourist trap areas contained in its relatively slim border. This is not a huge area. No-one of the islands and territories are all that large, and they build UP not out so they pack a lot in to a very small area. There are no cars on some of the islands and in some of the territories, only busses and trains and ferries and areas designed for people to enjoy, with parks and ponds and walks and hikes. The footprint of the buildings where these people live is not much larger than my single family dwelling (bear in mind I am a douche and live in a huge house) and contains thousands of people in an efficient and effective space.
In Hong Kong they seem to Love and respect greenery in a way we could learn from. Small market garden plots are all over the place, and trees are given pride of place even in the most crowded areas. They also have recycling programs that are impressive, and discourage single use plastics and don’t look at you strangely when you refuse a straw or a bag. The carbon footprints here must be relatively small all things considered.
Oh, and EV. Tesla are basically ubiquitous here. You can’t step out onto the street without nearly getting run over by one. There are incentives for EV ownership and there’s a shit tonne of money in and around these islands, so it is a rich breeding ground for the fertile foundations of luxury EV ownership that Tesla has established.
Public transport is great.
The light show is great (and free).
People are friendly and almost everyone speaks english.
I think that under normal circumstances I’d absolutely adore this city, but seeing as I am feeling quite sad and lonely and nursing wounds of grief, loss and separation, this magical island has not endeared itself to me.
Hong Kong is an assault on the senses from the very first moment you step off the plane. It is a mild-mannered and well behaved assault, but an assault none the less. crowds are HUGE here and personal space is non existent. Peoples’ idea of personal space is basically the opposite of what you would find in Scandinavia, which is where we are going soon.
Well, there’s a lot more to be said about these beautiful islands, and I may do that another day. For now though, I am going to pack up and head over to the big Buddha for some meditation and prayer. It has been a week that calls for just such a thing.
Thank you for reading.