Every time I travel to a new place I collect memories, pictures, and notes. I invariably think that, after the trip, I’ll write a post on my poor blog.
But then time pass by, the urge to write diminish, and the post stays unwritten… Such a pity not to share my notes with you, right? RIGHT?? I see you nodding. Let’s continue.
9th to 19th March 2018 I visited China. Precisely Hong Kong and Macau, that are part of China but are not really China. They are special administrative regions (SAR) returned to China after being colonies for quite a while.
If you really don’t know it yet, Hong Kong was a British colony for 150 years (till 1997) and Macau was Portuguese for 400 years (till 1999).
That’s damn recent, right?!
This history created two very special places. China but not Chinese. European but not Europe.
We traveled to Hong Kong from Bali, and we spent a total of 10 days there – 4 of them in Macau.
30 Notes on Hong Kong
1. With a population of over 7 million, is one of the most densely populated areas in the world.
2. It’s a fast-tempo, upbeat, go-getters, tac-tac, busy city. Like Brianza on steroids. You’ll find yourself walking fast in the sidewalks, and unapologetically bumping into people.
3. We queued for the bus. We queued for the elevator. We queued to enter shops (can’t believe mainland Chinese are queuing to buy Chanel or Gucci). We queued for the ferry. We queued for the tram. We queued to enter the restaurant. And then once inside, we queued to get a table. And then again, we queued at the cashier. In HK, you queue. Sundays are excellent for queues.
4. Beside flashy lights, skyscrapers, modern shopping malls, and fancy-dressed people… there’s poverty in HK. It’s sad that a prosperous economy, attracting international companies and financial institutions, is not taking good care of its own people. What’s the point of being a tax haven then? They should learn from our very Netherlands, Switzerland, and Luxembourg!
5. Hong Kong is the most liberal economy in the world, opening a limited company is simple and fast. I know a few people having their company registered here.
6. Expats are in good numbers, and in a very good company (the few beautiful girls around were next to foreigner men). I was surprised by how expats take good care of them self here. And the average age seems higher than other places, probably because most of them have financial-related jobs.
7. For a great day out of the city, Cheung Chau island is perfect: relaxing vibe, good seafood, and cheaper prices. You can rent a bicycle or tricycle and venture around like we did.
8. After living in Indonesia, every time I see a foreigner working I automatically think “which visa does he/she have?”. Funny.
9. Hong Kong Island and Kowloon are massive shopping malls.
10. I tried to avoid shopping malls but I failed miserably. You pass a shopping mall to enter the metro. There’s a shopping mall when the tram arrives on top of Victoria Peak. Do you want a coffee? Enter a shopping mall or walk miles looking for one.
11. Running by the Central Promenade is cool.
12. This free walking tour was very interesting because they focus on giving an insider perspective and not just touristic info. We also took their Skip the Line Peak Tram and I recommend it to skip by 90% the queue going up to Victoria Peak. We tried this walking tour one but nobody showed up, bummer.
13. The one-hour walk in nature on top of Victoria Peak was very good. Awesome panorama over the city!
14. Hong Kong airport is the most complex and hard to navigate I’ve ever experienced. It took us 22 escalators, 8 treadmills, and 2 trains to reach the gate…. and this was after the check-in!
15. Egg tart is good. Dim sum is very good. Have a good meal.
16. We survived on buses, metro, and ferries with the Octopus card (like the London Oyster card, but better). We didn’t get in a single taxi or Uber, and I didn’t miss that at all.
17. “Freedom is a luxury, not a necessity” is actually written in Chinese on a marble bench by the promenade.
18. Hong Kong is yet another Asian country which population suffered from Japanese atrocities in WWII. I believe in Europe we think too highly of Japanese… maybe because we grew up with their cartoons?
19. HK holds world records such as ‘the most skyscrapers‘, ‘more buildings taller than 500 feet (150 m)’, ‘more people who live or work above the 14th floor’, ‘the most vertical city’, ‘the most liberal economy’.
20. It’s also said to be the place in the world with the highest concentration of Rolex watches and luxury cars. However, I’m not convinced and even less impressed.
21. Hong Kong is growing, but next to it there’s Shenzhen that is growing 10x faster within Chinese territory. Is it a coincidence or a way to reduce HK power? Interesting times ahead!
22. Space is limited, so lots of things are timed: in a cafè we were informed that they have a ‘one-hour table turnover’ (you can’t stay more than one-hour), while in another one we got ’30-minutes free internet access’. If that sounds normal to you, you have got a problem 😛
23. Hong Kong vs Singapore? I don’t think is fair to compare them. Singapore is a huge amusement park for expats, everything is perfect and well-organized. Hong Kong is real, rough and intense.
24. On Sundays, the domestic workers have their weekly (only) day off. And since they ‘work from home’ by definition, they don’t want to stay home when not working. You can see an invasion of Filipino and Indonesian women grouping in parks and public areas, sitting on rented cardboards and having a picnic. Tamar Park is for Filipinos, while Victoria Park is for Indonesians if I understood it right.
25. They take feng-shui very seriously. Our microscopic AirBnb place must have had something wrong because I had weird dreams every single night.
26. No matter how tall is the building, scaffoldings in Hong Kong are always in bamboo. I know, it’s the same all over Asia but never saw that on tall buildings!
27. There’s a lot to see and do in Hong Kong!
28. Being there on the weekend of the Hong Kong Salsa Festival was a total coincidence I swear!
29. Ultimately, to understand Hong Kong I think one should visit China.
30. Next time? Definitely, I want to see Lantau, take the cable car up to the Giant Buddha and hike around. Maybe visit Disneyland. Have dim sum breakfast at Lin Heung Tea House. Sit down with a fortune-teller. Consult a feng-shui master.
We spent 4 days in Macau and I found it very bizarre. But I believe a blogger like me should always leave something for the next post…
Have you been to HK? What are your impressions? Do you agree with my notes?