A Dream Come True: My First Trip to Hong Kong

The glistening lights of the Kowloon skyline sparkle against the dark mountain background.  Gazing out my hotel window of the Conrad Hilton in Hong Kong, Victoria Harbor provides a peaceful palate for the neon lights of passing ships.  Most of all I don’t think I could ever get tired of this view.

A Dream Come True: My First Trip to Hong Kong

View from Victoria Peak of Hong Kong and Kowloon across the Harbor. While Hong Kong is all about business, most of the locals live in Kowloon, which has a darker, more fun side.
View from Victoria Peak of Hong Kong and Kowloon across the Harbor. While Hong Kong is all about business, most of the locals live in Kowloon, which has a darker, more fun side.

Ever since I was a child I have dreamed of coming to Hong Kong.  The former British colony awash with Asian influence fascinated me.  The exotic enticement gripped my psyche, and was at the top of my list of desired destinations.  As a result when we booked a cruise down the Yangtze River in China I was adamant about adding a side trip to Hong Kong.

Various friends either lived or worked here, further motivating me to visit.  First of all one grew up here and spoke fondly of the people and the beauty.  Her father moved the family after being transferred by his employer.  Additionally another amigo spent his thirties working in Hong Kong’s banking industry.  Hence their stories of living in this urban paradise mixed with their list or recommended activities leaving us well prepared for our 5 day trip in August.

Victoria Harbour is home to most of the port facilities of Hong Kong, making Hong Kong amongst the world's busiest.
Victoria Harbour is home to most of the port facilities of Hong Kong, making Hong Kong amongst the world’s busiest.

Hong Kong truly melds the oriental and modern in seamless artistry.

For 156 years British ruled the area until 1997 when China took back over.  Regardless of the length of rule under the Crown, this city teems with Asian influence.  For example amid the multitude of skyscrapers lies Chinese apothecary clinics and eateries serving bird’s nest soup and dumplings.  Chinese junk boats with their emblematic fully-battened sails contrast Hong Kong’s modern shopping malls.  Also western and eastern business men exchange business cards over dim sum while nearby locals practice thai chi in the park.

This shopping utopia by the bay offers a wide variety to fill your suitcase from major designer brands like Gucci to handmade crafts like paper lanterns.  The multitude of major brand stores in luxury malls compliment unique experiences like the fragrant flower market or the plentitude of stalls selling snakes in neighboring Kowloon.  Chinese medicine shops containing ingredients like dried turtle shells or ox gallstones peak one’s curiosity.  Most of all I wonder if this stuff really cure ailments?  Certainly thousands of years of Chinese medicine  trumps my very limited medical background.

 Victoria Harbor with the International Commerce Centre to the left, the tallest building in Hong Kong standing 484 m (1,588 ft).
Victoria Harbor with the International Commerce Centre to the left, the tallest building in Hong Kong standing 484 m (1,588 ft).

The Heart of Hong Kong centers around Victoria Peak, towering over the city like a patron saint.

The tram ride to the top offers a fun and easy way to reach the summit.  From the top admire the stunning 360 views of the harbor and hills, and observe all the buildings.  You realize why Hong Kong has the most skyscrapers of anywhere on the planet.  There is just not enough room to build horizontally.

Between the sea and the mountains, architects have had to look towards the skies to make it habitable.  For many consecutive years this seaside metropolis has the most expensive real estate prices of anywhere on the globe.  Consequently most residents rent.  None of my friends who lived here could afford to purchase. Their employers letted apartments on their behalf.  You have to be a multimillionaire to own in Hong Kong.

Regardless of prices, Hong Kong is still a wonderful and enchanting place to visit.  Therefore I’d highly recommend it to any adventurous traveler.  Likewise it’s also a good starting place for those interested in seeing China or other large Asian cities.  The mix of east and west here can ease you into the full Asian travel experience elsewhere.

Have you ever been to Hong Kong?

Please let me know in the comments!

Happy travels,

Matt Weatherbee

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Matt Weatherbee
Matt Weatherbee

Hi, I’m Matt.  In 2008 I quit my job, sold everything and drove from Boston to Mexico to start a business.  Now I live and work in the Carribean, and spend my free time traveling the globe.  Learn more.

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