Hong Kong en route to the Orient

The last time we visited Hong Kong was 34 years ago. Although exploring new places is most exciting, it is worth returning to old places occasionally – just to see how the world is changing.

We no longer fly in past kitchen windows to land in middle of city. But the half hour airport express train and extremely efficient immigration and customs makes up for it.

Efficiency and courtesy were displayed everywhere, from Tourist office to Star Ferry Terminal and Peak Train. And when I left my iPhone in a cafe at the airport, the courtesy and consideration they showed in returning it was wonderful.

Two days was not enough to relive past experiences in Hong Kong, but we did discover some new places.

We stayed near the Star Ferry Terminal, so went to explore that area. The Avenue of the Stars along the waterfront is a popular stop off for tourists. We hardly recognised any of the Asian stars, but we couldn’t miss Bruce Lee.

We did the mandatory ferry-bus-cable car to Victoria Peak and were nearly blown away by the strong winds. No wonder it was a popular escape destination for the colonial expats, from the heat and humidity of downtown Hong Kong. The cable train was first operational in 1888 and prior to that coolies carried their passengers up the peak. Once the train was running many expats built holiday homes there, the biggest was the Governor’s home in the highest position. It sadly fell into disrepair due to lack of use and was demolished in the 1940s.

We found the old quarter of Hong Kong from the Western Market, now a boutique gift market. From there we wandered along the streets of western and central Hong Kong where birds nests, ginseng, herbal medicines and dried seafood are sold in great abundance.

Hong Kong is very much cleaner now than 34 years ago. Smoking is forbidden nearly everywhere. Very few dogs are about and they are well controlled. Doggy toilets (a small sandpit) are everywhere.

We were in Hong Kong for the Mid-Autumn Festival, which is celebrated during the September full moon. We took the old double decker tram to Causeway Bay where a lantern festival was in full swing. A half moon made of recycled water bottles (the large water fountain variety) had been constructed and placed in a pond. LED led lights inserted into the bottles made a spectacular display which was reflected in the pond. There was also a wonderful display of lanterns.

Looking for a new experience on our last day, we took the ferry to Lamma Island, which has some tiny fishing villages. The Lamma Family Walk takes you from one side of the small island to the other, along a well paved path, mostly sheltered by trees. We got great views of the misty sea, Hong Kong Island and a large power station.

Our last stop was the Kowloon Park, an oasis beside busy Nathan Road with water fountains and ponds. The park is relatively new, transformed from a military fortress in the 1970s. It was a great opportunity to experiment with my new camera.

So I think we did justice to Hong Kong, no shopping, just enjoying the opportunities to see a city after 34 years.