Thursday, September 25, 2008

Days 30-33: Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a big city spread out over several islands: Hong Kong island (the central business district), Kowloon (the shopping district), and the New Territories. There is another island also.
The city is expensive, and, like Macau, is rich (not that Macau is cheap, which it is not). Whereas casinos are sprouting like mushrooms in Macau, Hong Kong is one of Asia's premiere financial capitals. There is everything and everyone here. In short, it is a very cosmopolitan city.
My hostel is located in Chunking Mansions, which sounds a lot more luxurious than it really is, to put it nicely. Is it really a residential building that is 15 stories high and is located in a very diverse area of Kowloon. In many ways, due to the people living here (not that I have anything against them), it feels like Little Nigeria. There are heaps of Africans and Middle Easterners.
There was a typhoon on the first day I arrived. And on the second. The weather was bad: usually rainy, very humid, and ultra hot.
Many of the people here still understand English. Cantonese is spoken by just about everyone, but the British influence still lives on in Hong Kong. Most of the signs are in English and Cantonese, as is the subway. Luckily, unlike for mainland China, most westerners don't need a visa to enter the country.
It is a city of contrasts, both pleasant and unpleasant at the same time. Large, but manageable. Expensive, but not too much. Not particularly dirty, but not the cleanest in the world, either. In short, it's Hong Kong--a shopper's paradise and many people's gateway to Asia.

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