A friend of mine who has only very recently moved to Hong Kong was asked by his employer how he liked the city. He said, “I still walk around with my head up looking up at the size of the buildings, the vastness of them, I can’t believe they are so big!” To which his employer replied, “Now, that’s interesting. You say the buildings are so big, we say the sky is so small.”
And in the centre of Kowloon, one of the most densely populated places on earth, the sky does look rather small. Hong Kong city’s skyline boasts the world’s largest collection of skyscrapers. If you walk around in residential areas without looking up, you can miss out on much of local life; washing and smokers hanging out of windows, construction workers hopping around on the bamboo scaffolding and quaint little coffee shops on the third or fourth floor.
Hong Kong is not only diverse demographically (well over 100 countries have consulates here), it is one of the most dynamic cities in the world. Less than 25% of Hong Kong’s land is developed while another 40% is reserved for nature and country parks. You can shop at any of the many clothing and souvenir markets and visit the tropical beaches all in one day. Being the main gateway to China, Hong Kong is one of the world’s leading financial centres and it has a highly developed and effective transport network, which makes driving a car in the city almost a hassle. There are ferries, taxis, the metro, the tram, buses and minibuses which carry you to just about anywhere.
Hong Kong has some of the most beautiful beaches and breath-taking scenery, the highest density of 7-Eleven convenience stores in the world (you can get almost anything you need at any time), delicious dimsum (steamed and friend dumplings of all varieties) and food from all over the world, the horse races (with the season running from September to July each year, this sport is no longer confined to the city’s elite and is a real experience), a buzzing night life and some of the most interesting history and culture.
South Africans can visit Hong Kong for up to 30 days without a visa, which makes this exciting city the ideal place to visit, whether it’s your main holiday destination or just as a stopover for a few days on your way somewhere else. If you are flying long-distance, most airlines will have a layover somewhere en route. Why not make it Hong Kong and see one of the world’s greatest cities at the same time?
And don’t forget to look up!