Oddly enough, no one seems to have posted any report about Hong Kong yet (I checked the Post Cards branch and did not find anything there either.).
I don't really have a report to make, but I have taken numerous photos of Hong Kong over the years, and here are a few of the more recent ones at random. Just rediscovering these photos made me want to return as soon as possible.
How beautiful! I've only ever heard scraps about Hong Kong, and never anything that made me particularly want to visit there. This thread certainly changed that!
All those blue and green tones against the sea and the sky are dazzling. And the touches of traditional life amid all the high rises are exotic and a reassuring sign that the world really is different wherever you go.
wow that is one gigantic place! I loved the one of the corner store (the guy selling something very much like snake skins! , and other one of my favourites is the one with the old house on the mountain slope and the modern city in the background! I can't say that I'd love to go there myself, it is too much of a city.... I prefer nature over steel-frame constructions. Anyway, it is very impressive!
In a different vein, in 1982 I took my mother on a big trip halfway around the world and one of the things we saw was the floating village of Aberdeen on the opposite side of the island from the skyscrapers.
I have stayed in all manner of accommodations in Hong Kong, from 5-star hotels all the way down to.... Chungking Mansions, where I had to stay once because after flying into the city like the fresh innocent flower that I once was, never paying attention to hotel reservations or other annoying details, I arrived to find that there was no availability... except at the notorious Chungking Mansions. If you have never heard of the place, here is what somebody wrote about it:
There are two types of travelers: those who would go out of their way to avoid a place like Hong Kong's notorious Chungking Mansions – and those who would elect to stay there.
I'd probably put myself somewhere in the middle.
Nestled between luxury emporiums on one of Hong Kong's most expensive thoroughfares, the Chungking Mansions is a chaotic complex of shops, food stalls, restaurants, wholesalers, budget guesthouses and low-income apartments. The 17-story compound is home to around 5,000 permanent residents, most hailing from South Asia and Africa. That's not to mention the estimated 10,000 people that pass through its halls each day, trading in currencies, refurbished electronics, counterfeit bags and other slightly less legal commodities. TIME Magazine called the Chungking Mansions the "Best Example of Globalization in Action" because of its extensive network of informal trade, while The Economist compared it to Spaceport Cantina in the original "Star Wars" film. Travel articles alternately refer to it as a "heart of darkness," a "den of iniquity" or, simply, a "hellhole."
I would retain the Spaceport Cantina as my own description of the place.
You must understand that it is not a hotel. It is a "commercial complex" which includes various guesthouses. How many guesthouses? I couldn't even begin to guess because most of these are just converted flats (?) with maybe 3 or 4 rooms being rented out. There must be dozens of them. Generally, you do not choose where you are staying in Chungking Mansions. "It" chooses you, or rather one of the ten or so guesthouse touts standing out front.
Once you have surrendered to one of them, you have to chase after him, because he wants to deliver you to your fate as fast as possible and get back to the pavement either to 1) find the next victim or 2) get the hell out before the place collapses or catches on fire.
I have a vague memory of taking a rickety lift up to perhaps the 4th floor, but was the place on the 4th floor? No way! I had to step over cartons of fruit, duck under electrical cables and go down the hallway to a set of rusty stairs, up another floor, around a corner, through more obstacles -- while of course being watched with amusement by all of the alien creatures denizens poking their heads through the other doorways.
We finally arrived at a place with bars across the door and I was ushered inside. I was taken to a small windowless cell room but which at least had a tiny bathroom with toilet and shower and my first thought was "I am going to have to stay in this room until I leave Hong Kong because if I leave it for any reason, I will never be able to find it again."
However, about an hour of resting and freshening up in even the worst place in the world (and I have stayed in worse places than Chungking Mansions -- I still shudder at the thought of the place where I stayed in Jakarta once, and even a hotel on the wrong side of Market Street in San Francisco where I put a chair against the door at night.), I am fully charged with courage. So I did leave the room and venture out to do all of the usual things in the city, after carefully memorizing the maze to get back to the guesthouse.
I never again came to Hong Kong without a prior hotel reservation, though.
On one of my trips, the first mainland Chinese tourists were starting to come to Hong Kong.
I wouldn't even expect to find a place like Chungking Mansions in HK...maybe Bangkok, but HK??? I heard they had a slum clearance drive after the main slum near the Peak caught fire once. I'm surprised that building manages to stay upright...
Sorry, but what do you mean by the "first" Mainland tourists? Didn't they use to travel before? I didn't know China enforced travel restrictions on its citizens (except for some dissidents that is).
They were allowed to visit Hong Kong more or less freely after it became an SAR. And at the beginning, permits were rationed because too many people wanted to go at the same time. Even so, the Chinese still need exit permits to leave the country, and they are only allowed to go to authorised countries. In 1999 only 14 countries were authorised as destinations, but now there are more than 100. France was the first country in Europe which the Chinese could visit and it remains their most popular European destination.
Nathan Road was my 'big shock' when we found our way to the hotel the travel agent had booked. Flying in directly from Singapore the jumble of tatty buildings all around our hotel was jaw dropping for us. The reception was on the third floor which was strange in itself for these South African yokels but the real stomach churner was when I looked out of the window and saw only a thin brick wall between my bed and a 25 story drop to the road below as our room was at the far end of the hotel corridor!
We still had a great time in Hong Kong and soon got accustomed to this weird shanty town!
It's impossible to make any sort of report about Hong Kong without mentioning the Star Ferry, which has linked Kowloon and Victoria since 1888. It's rather surprising that it still exists since there are both subway and road tunnels linking the two parts of Hong Kong now, but it seems to have major psychological importance, and not just for tourists. Life is so hectic in Hong Kong that the 15 minute crossing probably provides a very welcome break in the days of a lot of people. However, considering the population of Hong Kong -- 7 million -- and the fact that the Star Ferry transports just 70,000 people a day, the majority of the residents probably never set foot on it anymore.
Like many visitors to Hong Kong, I just can't get enough of it and use any excuse to take it.
Fabulous photos K - Old and new !!! and I must admit your story about the Chungking Mansions made me chuckle! The chair scene you describe from SF reminds me of the same my GF and I did in the early 90's in some dingy place in Florida