Hong Kong: unlike any place I’ve ever been to before and yet somehow totally familiar. Maybe it was the signs in English announcing products and places I had never heard of before. Maybe it was the boring, new architecture of office buildings set above the incredibly compact and busy streets below. Maybe it was the side of the road which cars were using. The groups of expats taking their dogs for a morning walk set in stark contrast to the makes and models of cars I’d never even heard of before. Groups of Chinese youths dressed in what I can only assume was fashion. Whatever the reason, my short stay in Hong Kong left a lasting impression and I can’t wait to go back.
My first time in Asia; my first flight that far; my first real dim sum. These are things I will never forget. The sights and sounds of those first few hours have become a part of my memory in the same way I remember my first bite of French food or my first drink. I stepped off the plane and immediately felt all of this.
Airports are airports but I had never seen a sign indicating the way to the smoker’s lounge or hot drinking water in North America. It was also very hot. Our flight left Toronto in the early winter and arrived in Hong Kong in an early, humid summer. I immediately changed my shirt and pants.
My travelling companion had been here before and had some ideas for our eight hours or so in Hong Kong, so we had a plan. It was early morning and very foggy, so we decided to watch the city come to life from the top of the cable car at Victoria Peak.
Photo by Katie Emma
What I can say is that whatever you decide to do, it is easy to get around. Signs are in multiple languages, Internet easily available, and public transport intuitive. A quick train ride into the city from the airport (easy and inexpensive: in my mind, the best way to go), a short walk, and we had a view of the city and harbour that I’ll always remember. Many shops were closed but we managed to find a bubble tea place (when in Asia!) and made our way back to our goal, taking photos and taking it in.
‘Michelin Guide Dim sum’: the very phrase sounded like an oxymoron to me but we tried it, loved it and you will too! For those who don’t know (and I’m genuinely jealous because I would love to experience a first dim sum again), it’s a Chinese brunch institution of myriad different dishes, but often prominently featuring little steamed buns filled with delicious goodies. I would highly recommend arriving hungry and being adventurous.
In a perfect world, we could all have a friend in each new city. Someone to meet you more than halfway and at least provide a sense of stability in a crazy world of travelling far and wide. Someone who could possibly show you a thing or two and answer some questions about what it’s like to live there. Luckily, we had that person and I’m grateful for friends of friends.
As I’ve said, public transport here is very easy. We finished dim sum and got a quick train to the other side of the harbour for more photos and digestion. While I can’t name most of what struck my senses, I can say that it is a must see. For those of you familiar with Hong Kong, I’ve barely said anything of substance. But my story isn’t about the experienced Hong Kong traveller. This account of my short time in this new city is for those who, like me, hadn’t yet made it this far.
You should go, observe and learn. More than I did and for much longer, because the one thing I know for sure about my layover in Hong Kong is that I want to go back.
Photo by Katie Emma
Patrick Merrithew is a Canadian boy from Toronto living and working in Perth, Western Australia. After graduating from Queen’s University with a Bachelor’s in Physical and Health Education (Honours), a personal trainer’s certificate and a yoga instructor’s certification, he completed the Grand Diplôme at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Paris. This is where he completed several internships in cuisine, pastry and baking. He currently enjoys the internet, films, running, yoga, skiing, sand, sun and of course, food and travel.