香港 Snapshots: Hong Kong

Visiting Hong Kong was such a fantastic experience; I had visited before but I’ve found that blogging and taking pictures of the world around me when I travel really makes me engage with what I’m seeing and as a result I feel like this time I actually experienced the city. When you take pictures of a place you really pay attention to what’s going on, and thinking of what you’d like to write about forces you to think about what you’re seeing. I definitely think this is a good way to travel; even if no one actually reads your blog about the place you visited, writing down what you did and carefully thinking about the place while you’re there gives you a better memory of it. I know that my mother would tell me this is why she forced me to write a holiday diary when I was younger, but for me it’s the fact that other people will potentially see it that adds the drive to properly record my trip.

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I have already written the obvious posts; the posts about the Buddhist tourism spots in Hong Kong and the amazing food, but I haven’t gone through the rest – we were there for 10 whole days so we did a fair amount of exploring. Here are some ‘snapshots’ of various things we saw and did while we were there, some are mini posts in themselves and some are just single pictures that I felt like sharing as part of my experience.

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You may have noticed in my previous posts that we were visiting Hong Kong around Chinese New Year (19th February this year). This was great but also an inconvenience; there were loads of New Year themed decorations around but as New Year is a public holiday in which people visit family, most shops and restaurants took 4 days off.

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There were sheep themed displays in most shop windows, the market was selling New Year’s decorations, and there was an impressive Chinese Zodiac animals display in the IFC building. Half of the animals were in one main display and the rest were scattered about the mall. We hunted them all down. The last one we were looking for was the dog, as some of our group were born in the year of the dog. When we finally found the dog it was a poodle. Yes, a poodle. I’m sorry if you love poodles but they are not the majestic dog of the Chinese Zodiac (for the record I’m’ a rooster, not a dog, so there is no bias there). I think the pig was my favourite, so big and fluffy looking. Pigs aren’t normally fluffy but they certainly suit it. I also liked how the rat was riding the Ox, as it was in the original story.

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Chinese New Year in Hong Kong was a lot like being in the UK (or other western countries) during Christmas, the holiday atmosphere was palpable, and much like our New Year there were of course fireworks. We went to watch them on top of the IFC building (we did spend a lot of time there for some reason). Sadly there was very little wind on that day and the fireworks created a smoke cloud that swallowed the later fireworks, making the display a brightly coloured cloud. Enjoyable but not as impressive as it could have been.

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We visited a market on one of our first days in Hong Kong. The market filled both sides of the street, creating a narrow path through the stalls. There were a number of New Year decorations as well as ‘copy’ brand watches, key rings with car logos (presumably so you can pretend to own whatever car you want without actually spending the money), fans, traditional clothing, a paint-by-numbers stall, and a huge variety of other wares.

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I bought a card for my mums birthday at the spectacular pop-up card stall (said card has since been destroyed by a poodle, might explain my distaste for the poodle statue) and as a group we got paint-by-numbers canvasses to try in the evenings. I found that Hong Kong markets are also one of the last places you can buy iPhone 4 cases, a blessing as mine had died (I dropped it…). The market was definitely a good place to grab cheap goods, very good for souvenirs too.

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On one of our adventures we found a statue of the chief manager of HSBC between 1870 and 1902, Sir Thomas Jackson. Interesting to see as HSBC has been in the news of late for helping wealthy people avoid tax. Not sure if Sir Thomas would be pleased with this criticism of his bank; he helped build the bank into the main bank in Asia. He became known as ‘the architect’ for the work he did for the bank, so it seems right that he got a statue for his efforts. He was also made a Baronet for his contribution to the bank.

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Hong Kong was a fantastic city, full of colour, food and history. I would certainly go back there again and I would recommend it to anyone visiting East Asia. Not quite China, with notes of the UK and it’s own unique atmosphere, there’s nowhere exactly like Hong Kong.

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