Eventually my time in Australia came to an end, but that didn’t mean my trip was over. Without being able to fly back without a stop off somewhere, I also had a few days in Hong Kong.
I arrived in the “Special Administrative Region of China”, to give it its official designation, just prior to the Chinese New Year, and although I wasn’t there to enjoy the full festivities, I did get to see the city decorated and celebrating the time of year. Not only did I see displays in shopping centres honouring each of the animals of the Chinese zodiac, but I also discovered Dragon performances whilst wandering the streets, and was even given the chance to hold one when visiting the Happy Valley Racecourse. I was also told that doing so would bring me good luck, although my wallet at the end of the evening told a different story.
Although I obviously won’t complain at being there during this time, it was also hardly needed as the former British colony had its own sense of style regardless.
No longer part of the Empire and yet not fully Chinese either, Hong Kong’s uniqueness is around for all to see, with attractions such as the Avenue of Stars boasting its own home-grown film and TV talent, including Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. Located on the waterfront of the main harbour, not only does it also offer a great view of the world-famous skyline on the opposite shore, but the way it is lit up at night effectively offers two for the price of one.
While their unique architecture ensure they are even more impressive than most found in other cities (despite all my time in Australia it was here I found a skyscraper designed to resemble Koalas), when lit up they all combine to become one instantly recognisable dazzling display.
Although the city may have embraced the modern as much as any other, it is also one which still appreciates the more traditional as well. On Lantau Island is the Tian Tan Buddha, a Bronze statue which has dominated the landscape since it was built in the early 90s not just due to its 34 metre height, but also because of the 268 steps it takes to reach it.
It was built next to the Po Lin monastery, and the entire site is such a great contrast to the hustle and bustle of the main city. Not only are there various walking trails throughout the woodlands around the site, but there are also cattle which freely wander the ground. Despite being used to tourists and locals alike, they also are also at home enough to make you realise that you should be the one to move around them, rather than vice versa. Although this is all located some way outside of the city, it is easily reached via the metro and bus routes, or there’s also a cable car for the more adventurous, but will take up the better part of a day trip.
Although I had always wanted to stop off somewhere in a similar way to Kuala Lumpur on the way out to Australia, one reason I chose Hong Kong is that a housemate from university is now living over there, who I hadn’t seen since his wedding some four and a half years previously. Although we were only able to catch up briefly, it was still great to share a meal at a street market restaurant, and have someone a little more experienced than me when haggling for souvenirs to take home with me.