A Visit to Hong Kong

    [photo:1349448375322]This past Christmas I made a visit to Hong Kong. Although, I was not born in Hong Kong, I had lived there for over twenty years before immigrating to Canada. I have come to realize that I grew up in the last Colonial days of Hong Kong. I was reminded of this by the existence of the many social clubs still running today. The exclusive Hong Kong Club, the very British sports oriented Football Club and various other dining clubs and "member's only clubs". The list goes on. During my childhood and teenage years, it was considered a rarity to be Eurasian – of mixed parentage. In my case, a Chinese mother and an English father, however, on this trip I was informed by my fellow Eurasian friends that it is no longer a big deal. In fact, not only are there more Eurasians of every combination, but many of them speak more than two languages, often three or four, compared to my meagre two, English and Cantonese. It was an odd experience for me to see Eurasians so accepted because I remember constantly being reminded that I was neither here nor there. How times have changed, for the better, I believe! [photo:1349588779140]For such a small place, Hong Kong is a very dynamic and exciting city. Always on the go, it is a city that almost never sleeps. I remember talking with a fellow Hong Kong resident and we both remarked how it felt like Hong Kong had become even more crowded. I definitely do not remember it being so crowded when I lived there, but maybe I have selective memory. There is even a system where they have established lines outside elevators to organize crowds of people going to restaurants in the various high rise buildings. My English relatives who do not live in Hong Kong found this most amusing! Stanley Market is a tourist haven with shops selling T-shirts and other Chinese souvenirs. However, it is a must for visitors and bargains can be found for those looking for a Happy Coat or embroidered coasters and tablecloths. Like much of Hong Kong, progress and change can be found everywhere even in Stanley. I certainly do not remember it being so organized with shops and many restaurants lined up alongside the beach with an accessible beach walk. I was happy to discover many restaurants and English Pubs still in existence when we made a stop for some fish and chips. It definitely reminded me of the days of my childhood. Once upon a time, eating fish and chips in an English pub was a very English thing to do in old Colonial HK. [photo:1349450002772] [photo:1349589005876]Although, most of Hong Kong appears to be the same on the surface, to me it was like discovering a new place. The streets were the same but the buildings and shops and many establishments were not. For most of my visit to Hong Kong I had to ask for explicit directions to the places I wanted to visit. When I left Hong Kong in the mid-90's Soho did not even exist. Nor did the escalator taking pedestrians to the lower mid levels where many of the high rise apartments were. Even my favourite ferry ride, the famous Hong Kong Star Ferry had moved to make way for more reclaimed land. My Hong Kong friends lamented that soon they would be able to just walk over to Kowloon side as the divide of water between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon is getting narrower and narrower. Another fantastic aspect of Hong Kong is the night lights. At eight pm each evening, many of the buildings along the water front from Central to Causeway Bay put on a fabulous light show that lights up the night skies. All the tall skyscrapers each have their own design and the no expense is spared when it comes to the lighting design. [photo:1349450124553]A visit to Hong Kong is incomplete without a mention of the fabulous food. People always jokingly say they gain weight after a trip to Hong Kong. The eating begins in the morning, followed by lunch and afternoon tea before a sumptuous dinner. It does not end there, drinks between meals and after meal plus snacking along the way. Everyone is hospitable and generous as I only make a visit back to Hong Kong every now and then, with so many friends and relatives happy to see me, my weight gain is substantial. Not that I am complaining. The sheer variety of food alone is mind boggling and would probably take several trips over several years to sample it all. Hong Kong is also a shopping mecca for the die-hard label conscious and brand name enthusiasts. Every big name brand under the sun is available in Hong Kong including those in between. No wonder my friends all asked me if I bought along an extra suitcase with me for my shopping. However, this trip was a special trip back to Hong Kong for a reunion with my Chinese relatives over Christmas. My time was spent running from restaurant to restaurant for exquisite meals with a few side trips throw in. On such trip was made to Macau on the super fast hovercraft that just seems to skim the surface of the ocean. [photo:1349450236784]A former Portuguese Colony, Macau is known for its gambling. Many people consider it the Las Vegas of the Far East with many of the famous large hotels one can find in Las Vegas now operating in the city of Macau. Depending on who you speak to, one might even tell you it's better than Las Vegas. I saw a very entertaining show called 'House of Dancing Water' which is considered to be one of the most extravagant, exciting shows that involve water, acrobatics and special effects. I have to tell you that the show lives up to its reputation with gasp inducing and death defying acrobatics. The stage itself is another genius creation, one minute it's a pool and the next it's hard floor. Who cares that the storyline was a bit vague when everything else took your breath away. All too soon it was time to return home. One really needs to visit Hong Kong for longer periods or as many immigrants to Canada practise, return more often. Although I have never felt more like a tourist in my old hometown and I barely skimmed the surface of this ever expanding and evolving city, I have already set my sights on another visit this year. Maybe I will see you at Dim Sum!