I am very impressed with Hong Kong. The island itself seems to be one of mankind’s success stories. It’s modern but attractive, busy but not too hectic and seems generally to be about 20 years ahead of the UK. Public transport is faultless and inexpensive, there are little TV screens next to your table in fast food restaurants, the skyscrapers along the skyline put on a co-ordinated lightshow every night and there’s even a covered escalator so you don’t have to walk up the hill. It seems laughable that people were concerned about everyone moving to the UK when the place was handed back to China – in comparison we’re a backwater slum. The only negative I can think of is the prices. I paid the equivalent of four quid for a pint of beer last night and I’d baulk at that even in London. Still, the island and the hostel are highly recommended.
Across the straight Kowloon is a different story entirely. It’s hectic, backward and ugly, especially Nathan Road. Whoever didn’t design Manila didn’t bother here either. The epicentre is a place called Chungking Mansions. Here is an unfairly flattering photo of it.
Looking at this building you would think that it’s a run down tower block ready for demolition instead of the home of 4000 people, 90 “guesthouses” and near a thousand shops and businesses including, unfortunately, the only place in Hong Kong to buy trans-Siberian rail tickets. I’m not going there again. this article pretty much sums up my experience.
I also went to Lantau, the much less developed island to the west, to ride on the new cablecar across the top of the mountains to the giant bronze buddha. It was an overpriced artificial tourist trap, but as far as overpriced artificial tourist traps go it’s about the best there is. Met a cute girl on it too. The buddha was pretty decent too.
I’ve run out of money now so I suppose I have to go home.