Who's Calling? ... It's Hong Kong, S.A.R!
Pushing the button, I began my 2016 Spring Festival holiday by making my first stop in the electric world city of Hong Kong. Entering into my first twenty-four hours I experienced an energy that could only be described as 'next level!'. Beginning with a bullet train to far off Guangdong, China, that took me to the borderline I left China for the first time! HK served a lot!
Hong Kong is a place that I had a burning desire to visit, reuniting with a dear friend had to be done! So, with an extended holiday on the cards I was pumped for my February 2016 trip. Zooming from Wuhan Railway Station to Shenzhen North on a supersonic China High Speed train took me to the LoWu borderline with Hong Kong. Crossing over that international path was something else but HK welcomed me without any problems, I was tired! No hotel reservations were made for this trip because I was welcomed into the heart of my friend's family apartment, meeting Hong Kong born Kelly at university in Birmingham cemented our friendship, taking us to that moment when I arrived in Hong Kong. Settling into my Kowloon accommodation within the Hoi Lai Estate, I was blown away with the enormity of the apartment blocks that became a familiar sight during my trip. No hotels, I was part of a lovely HK family!
Strictly my first day in Hong Kong, I wanted to shelve those first encounters as a gap before my first official twenty fours hours began in that former British Overseas Territory. I had made it to Hong Kong, like other places that I've now been afforded to visit I had dreams of teaching in Hong Kong but the amount of strict entry requirements set by the schools didn't allow me the chance to teach in HK. Seeing Kelly again after two years was amazing, we last saw each other at our graduation in 2014 with a pact to reunite because I was determined to teach English in neighbouring China. Back to my journey, after exiting LoWu on the Hong Kong side I then boarded the HK MTR to Nam Cheong via Hung Hom. Changing my sim card from its Chinese network to something that would help me stay connected enabled me to make my final destination without much stress. After living in China for almost eight months I was amazed to have Shepherd's Pie for tea! Yes, It was a culture shock!
Feeling refreshed with the long journey from Wuhan, China behind me, I was ready to welcome my first official twenty-four hours in Hong Kong. Accompanied by Kelly and her mum, we headed over to an uncomplicated Hong Kong breakfast spot for some delicious Dim Sum. I had met Kelly's maternal grandmother at our university graduation but it was my first time meeting her maternal grandfather, it was a great opportunity. I was treated to a lovely breakfast of many things a fellow Brit would turn away so early in the day but I wanted a complete Cantonese experience. It was a real treat hearing the Cantonese language spoken between Kelly and her family members because I'm used to Mandarin Chinese on a daily basis, I was kept in the loop with English translations so I could understand what was being said. To my delight I was the only foreigner there, boosting my Dim Sum breakfast in Kowloon!
Branching away from that sumptuous and delicious HK breakfast club I continued to take in every single moment throughout my first meeting with Hong Kong. The weather wasn't perfect, taking the MTR to Tung Chung we were optimistic that the Buddha within the Ngong Ping Village would be a beautiful sight to see but the fog and rain cursed Lantau Island that February afternoon. Fearing not I was determined to get a suitable photo of that HK icon another time throughout my trip. Looking to the waters of Hong Kong's Lantau Island we took a super quick ferry from Mui Wo to Central. Captured above are some authentic Hong Kong trams lined up with their individual print within the financial district on Hong Kong Island. Tiffany was not invited, I was seeking for a true and honest downtown HK experience! Stopping for lunch I was reunited with a cup of tea with milk, almost forgetting my Oriental location I felt mother England close to me! I was living for the 'next level' vibe of HK!
A collapsible bank? Yes, within Hong Kong's legendary financial district close to the Connaught Road in Central lies the HSBC headquarters. It's believed that if something went down on the island of Hong Kong, this towering structure could be dismantled within the hour? It's no secret that Hong Kong remained a British Colony for over 99 years until the British handed this pearl of the Orient back to China. I'm fully aware that the status of this formally know Special Administrative Region sometimes causes tension but its modern history and colonial days absolutely amaze me. Sitting next to the removable financial powerhouse is the former Bank of China building that holds the China Club on the 13th floor, my friend's maternal grandfather works within that refined club into his best years, I've heard a lot about the China Club but know that I wouldn't have the funds to be a part of that party! Of course, Central was the right one!
I was intoxicated by the energy of Hong Kong Island and all of it's frantic movement, I was living a dream to finally be there within the heart of this iconic part of Asia. Not staying in a hotel afforded me the chance to be a part of a lovely Hong Kong family, I was welcomed into the heart of their everyday life during my time spent in Hong Kong and for their generousness I will be always grateful. My first full day in Hong Kong kept pressing onwards but I was loving the colonial court buildings in Exchange Place, I have always taken a keen interest in the ways of the British from days that have past. It fascinated me to see such a stark contrast between the stone and brick buildings from Empire. From the towering glass wonders that now welcome the electric future of this Oriental world city! The view from Central Pier was spectacular, I couldn't help but gaze over at the Tsim Sha Tsui side of the vast Victoria Harbour. All of this wouldn't of been possible without my dear friend Kelly!
As the afternoon slowly turned into evening time it was our opportunity to see Hong Kong from a higher point. Breaking from our anti-tourist movement we took the Victoria Peak Tram to the highest points of Hong Kong Island. I'm not one for heights from a certain angle, as the tram climbed the gargantuan Peak I did not feel so good and the driver decided to take off the breaks as we stopped at Kennedy Road, I did not appreciate the backward movement! Straying away from the 'Skyspace', Kelly guided me around a more scenic route away from the selfie-sticks and hoards of tourists. Taking in the dusk with the stunning views of Aberdeen it was time to class the next stage of this time as 'next level!'. Growing closer to the iconic world famous panorama of Victoria Harbour and her surrounding skyscraper sisters, I had my camera at the ready to capture a photo worthy of that sight of electric love! HK looked perfect!
Taking in the towering views of the electric skyline and the waters of the vast Victoria Harbour I couldn't help but notice the sea of lights, each window from the tower blocks overlooking the action had a story to tell. Sharing such a timeless moment with Kelly was truly amazing, we had made it to the place where we promised we would reunite! Hong Kong had attacked my senses in the best way possible, at that moment from the top Victoria Peak I had to take several moments to register that I made it to where I had a dream to visit! Overlooking the action was the 'skyspace' an elevated platform for tourists to capture a jarred view of the staggering HK skyline but it came at a price that we were not prepared to pay! Taking the path that took us away from the mainstay of tourists afforded us to experience a chilled out part of the world's most famous vista. Bidding farewell to the heights of the Victoria Peak we headed for Temple Street Market, so I will get round to that business soon HK!
Hong Kong Is Next Level!