Hong Kong is an incredibly exciting city. The stark contrast to Christchurch from the second we stepped off the Airport Express is startling after a thirteen hour flight. The streets bustle with people, smells and noises. For a population of over 7 million, commutes may be a little cosy, as is the footpath and public spaces, but the infrastructure is impressive and keeps a constant flow.
Food was quite key on our brief one week visit. Our days were dictated by meals and we covered yumcha favourites like hargow, siumai and custard buns to fish balls, chasiu pork and the famous satay beef sandwich of For Kee. Like kids on holiday, we treated our thirst with all kinds of novelty drinks from the fridges of 7 elevens.
We stayed on Hong Kong island, on the fringe of partially gentrified Tai Ping San and spent the spare hours wandering the hilly streets and back lanes. Now dotted with cafes, craft breweries, yoga studios, galleries and trendy spaces (amongst dried seafood shops and antique stalls), the neighbourhood has been shaped by a rich colonial history and the bubonic plague – which thanks to Chichi, I learnt a little about.
Other days we played tourist – getting up to The Peak, seeking out markets and riding the tram (colloquially known to locals as ‘ding ding’). Wet markets are found all around Hong Kong in both indoor and outdoor spaces. Iconically decorated with plastic red lamp shades, the red lighting is designed to make the meat, seafood and fruits look fresher and more appealing.
Unlike previous trips, we learnt a great deal more about the city. By the end of the week, we let ourselves pretend to be locals, weaving through crowds expertly, hanging out in squares and responding with ‘mm goi’ to everything.