Thursday, January 03, 2008

2008 in Hong Kong and Macau

Hong Kong has a smell. It's a smell that is hard to describe to anyone who has never been there but uniquely familiar to those who have. I can best delineate it as a mixture of Chinese herbs and medicines mixed with pollution and cooking odours. It is strangely endearing after some time. Will Smith one said "It's funny how smells can spark off nostalgia" and it's true. When that smell hit me again, I knew I was back in HK.

And I love Hong Kong. Perhaps it's partly due to the fact that HK was my first experience of Asia, and naturally a bit of that buzz and those special memories come back to me whenever I go back. But I think there's more to it. HK has a unique energy, a sort of intense rush that sweeps up all those who are in it. It gives a real sense of energy and excitement. Such vigour comes not only from the overcrowding, but also the ubiquitous signs, the mix of languages and chatter, the super tall buildings, the technology and the cultural behaviour that goes along with it.

There's also so much to do in such a small place. While the Star Ferry and the Peak Tram are well known, a lot of people are surprised or unaware of HK's very pleasant beach known as Repulse Bay. There are also a whole load of parks, museums and temples that add plenty of appeal.

Macau is also great in a different way. It has a very European charm about it, with trilingual signs and little pathways leading to bakeries or Christian sites. The Venetian hotel where we stayed one night is a true spectacle,and I'd recommend it to anyone.

The Chinese may not have a reputation as being the most polite people in the world (Did I say that softly enough for our new wave of political correctness? My half Chinese wife gave me permission and also agreed with me.) but children seem to be popular targets of affection and in their own way the Hong Kongers are very hospitable people. It's also a very safe place.

I don't think I could ever get bored of HK. I hope it never changes.

At HK Harbour.

Half way up the peak, near Thaksin's Hong Kong residence, apparently......

The Venetian. Notice the sky and "canal". This is all indoors!

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