Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Haiku in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is one of the prettiest places I have ever been to. I had but a few hours to tour the city, but I came back impressed and would definitely want to explore it sometime at greater leisure.

There are two standard modes of entry into the city from the airport - the Airport Express which whizzes one straight to Hong Kong Island and the more leisurely Airbus which takes one all over Kowloon and HK. I chose the latter and landed up in right in the middle of a crowded large road called the Nathan road, with everything in sight written in Chinese. Just as I was thinking that I was lost and started wandering in circles, I asked around to realize that almost everyone spoke English well. (Nathan road, I later discovered, is one of the most prominent shopping destinations in HK and sort of longitudinally bisects Kowloon.)

The Metro connects almost every part of Kowloon and the HK Island and is probably the fastest way to travel around. Its very similar to brethren in other parts of the world (Singapore, Delhi, London etc.) but for that its signboards are slight hard to sight amongst the omnipresent crowded Chinese signboards.

Hong Kong Island has a breathtakingly beautiful skyline, filled with skyscrapers (dominated by the WTC and other bank buildings). Viewed from atop Victoria peak, one gets a spectacular sight of buildings spread over a harbor front and the facing Kowloon island. The ride up the Peak on the tram is particularly noteworthy with a steep 45 degree climb at places and great views.

The best way to check out the HK Island seems to be on the ubiquitous trams. Surprisingly faster than Indian ones and cheap as well, they help navigate the crowded streets.

Lan Kwai Fong is one of the most interest night places on the island (has quite a few Indian restaurants too), adjoining which is a meandering elevator that takes one from the mid to the top levels of the island - considered to be the world's longest escalator, and its certainly an interesting experience. HK also has a central district called the Times Square (named like the one in NY).

Across the island onto Kowloon, is the Avenue of stars - a promenade with great views of the harbor and the island. Little further in is the traditionally touristy district of Tsim Tsa Tsui. This area is a veritable shopper's paradise, with everything from cheap Chinese goods and electronics to designer labels of every name. What was interesting is that I found prices to be cheaper than that in India and variety greater than that in Singapore. With milling crowds of every nationality, this place is an awesome cultural experience.

Bruce Lee seems to be HK's most prominent mascot, with his replicas everywhere from the Madame Tussaud's, the promenade to the souvenir t-shirts.

The only downside in HK is that in certain areas, the crowds make you feel claustrophobic. This I say even after seeing Mumbai's crowds - HK in some areas is 3-4 times as crowded as Dadar station.

In sum, HK is an awesome place that needs well over 3/4 days to do justice to. A friend of mine in HK also recommended that a couple of treks and a visit to Macau should be included on a leisurely itinerary.
Post a Comment