They say that the future is built on the history of a place. Even when I visit the cities that look like belonging to the future, I try and see the roots that they are built on. A mailer from Hong Kong Tourism made me think of the potential things that I would want to see in the city-state that is known for its skyscrapers, its theme parks and for being the financial hub of Asia. I started reading about the city and here is what I would like to see there.
Walled Villages of Hong Kong
Much like our Pol area in Ahmedabad or Narrow lanes of Chandni Chowk in Delhi, Hong Kong has its walled villages. More than 1000 years back these villages were walled areas where clans like Tang clan lived. A village would have houses next to each other surrounding a courtyard like an open area. The outer boundaries will be protected by a tall wall. This wall would, in turn, be surrounded by a moat, like the ones we see around forts. Walls and moats were meant to prevent both the pirates and the other rival clans.
When the British took over this area, they blew up some of these walls. Some of the Britishers took fancy to the village doors and shipped them to their home, but only to return them later.
Kat Hing Wai is the most famous of these villages, all of it spread in mere 100 X 90 meters’ area. However, there are many more villages to explore. I so look forward to walking around these tall walls with intriguing doors. I want to go back in time and see how people lived as clans.
Like India, the British left their mark here as well. I am curious about what kind of heritage they left behind – is it similar to the one we see in India or is there anything unique in the city-state.
I know I definitely want to travel around the city in its Trams, especially the Peak Tram that has been operational since 1888 making it contemporary to our mountain railways like Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. Peak tram is supposed to go through a very scenic route as it takes the passengers to the peak of the city-state with beautiful views of the city.
In the city, I would also try their regular tramways that take you anywhere for a standard fee of $2.30.
I want to go on the heritage walking tours that take you through the colonial architecture. I wonder if this would be similar to colonial Calcutta walk. Then, there is a continued tradition of ‘Noon Day Gun’ where a gunshot is fired every day at noon. Afternoon tea is another British tradition that is still in vogue – a good experience to relish on a lazy afternoon, especially while chatting with family and friends.
Living Traditions of Hong Kong
Every old culture has some traditions that continue to live and make it unique. My first introduction to Chinese culture was through the practice of Feng Shui. The small little things that are supposed to bring prosperity and ward off bad spirits. It is like the Chinese version of our own Vaastu Shastra. I want to see how Feng Shui is still practiced – do people consult the Feng Shui experts when they built those tall skyscrapers.
Ancient Chinese medicines also fascinate me. They have a solution for almost every human problem through herbs. I am not sure if I would consult them for my problems but I want to see those herbs filled medicine shops. Herbs not only carry their own smells but also the smell of a long-standing tradition and knowledge system.
Apart from these, I am sure there would be fairs and festivals that I would have to choose based on my time of visit. A boat parade festival looks similar to many Goan festivals where boats are decked up and paraded. It is called the Dragon Boat festival in Hong Kong and takes place in May.
A marine-life themed ocean park is great to explore both the modern city and its marine life. Designed for the family holidays, there are shows that happen at the waterfront and at the summit. A 1.5 km long cable car connects the waterfront and the summit. I can only imagine how thrilling it would be to take this cable car.
Waterfront lets you admire the diverse animals including the high-altitude animals like Red Panda, but what excites me more is the aviary where you can see many colorful birds. Dolphins, of course, remains the hot favorite with children and adults.
More to explore
Apart from this, I want to see their state of the art 3D museums, their designer shopping areas and their streets for some street food. I need to explore what options they have for vegetarians like me, although I know there are pure veggie restaurants. I want to visit the Man Mo Temple and pay my respects to God of Literature. There is a hop-on-hop-off bus service for those who want to explore the traditional tourist routes. In my opinion, this is the best way to explore a place for first-time visitors.
Photographer in me wants to explore the various angles to see this tall city. It would be great to click family portraits with these backdrops.
The Special Administrative Region is celebrating its 20th anniversary. They plan to offer smart deals to all its visitors starting April 01, 2017. This is a good time to explore the city. With pre-registration, it offers 14-day free Visa-on-arrival to Indian Nationals at the time of writing. Another incentive for Indian passport holders.
This post has been written in association with the Hong Kong Tourism Board. Do check out their website for more details.