Monday, March 28, 2016

The Hong Kong I Remember

A little over 10 years ago, I arrived in Hong Kong as a fresh-faced 20-something adventurer, out to discover the world.
It was a very exciting time in my life, when I could see the world and all its possibilities. I was slightly naive but very optimistic.
Hong Kong was the very first foreign country or territory I have ever visited, and the city’s bright lights and busy streets totally captivated me. The explosion of sight, sound and flavor was just too much for the travel neophyte and the city completely had me in its palms during my very first hour of exploration.
I remembered, I would walk along the Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui in broad daylight, bright eyed, jaw dropping ever slowly, at the skyscrapers that dominate Hong Kong’s skyline.Neon lights along the were reflected on my eyes as I roam around the city from dusk till dawn, going to bed only when my body could no longer handle the physical toll of non-stop walking.
The first time I saw Hongkong harbour, I bravely described it as the most magical thing I have ever seen. My 20-something self, just couldn’t help but hide my admiration and love for this city. I must have spent hours staring at the harbour during that first trip.
Fast forward to 2015, and I have become a somewhat accomplished traveled, a man of the world if you may.
By now, I have traveled thousands of miles across four continents and 30-plus countries, and I have climbed very tall mountains, marveled at ancient cities, and saw the world’s beauty in all its seasons. I have also experienced heartaches, sadness, loss and I have realized that not everything is not all black and white. Behind beauty lies poverty and sometimes, cunning.
But it is quite comforting to know that the Hong Kong of my childhood, remains the same magical place I fell in love with.
For sure, some things have changed: the buildings were older, the shopping malls are more modern, and the people more fashionable, and almost everyone is armed with the latest gadgetry but Hong Kong has maintained its essence and spirit.
The towering skyscrapers remain and the view of the city from Victoria Peak continues to tale my breath away.
Shoppers continue to come in droves, taking advantage of the tax-free privileges accorded to buyers. Mongkok and Central Hong Kong continues to be a shopper’s paradise.
The famous Lan Kwai Fong continues to be the epicenter of gastronomic and partying exploits for many. Some of the restaurants and the clubs have changed, but the atmosphere is still electric, with festivities reaching a dizzying frenzy at 3am.
Wan Chai continues to be the pleasure district, while Sheung Wan still exudes that old charm with its rows and rows of antique shops and small, hole in the wall, restaurants.
At every turn in Admiralty and Causeway Bay, you will discover amazing bargain stalls and restaurants ranging from authentic Chinese cuisine to Japanese to Western.
The glittering lights along the Hong Kong harbour remain as awesome as before, with the nightly “Symphony of Lights” dazzling new generations of tourists and travelers.
I returned to Hongkong to renew my spirit and fuel my ever growing desire and passion to explore and marvel. And I think I have accomplished just that. It remains a great, vibrant city that caters to visitors of all ages, and fancy.
It reminded me why I fell in love with the world, and why I was hooked on wandering in the first place.
I spent four days in Hong Kong very recently and while they were not enough to explore Hong Kong it in its entirety, those days were enough for me to go back in time and remember a part of my younger days that I cherish very much.

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