Hong Kong

After nearly four decades away, I am keen to see how much Hong Kong has changed. The last time I visited Hong Kong I was just seven years old. If you read my News & Events column you'll know I'm staying at the Pottinger Hotel (see photo). In the morning I walked down to the ferry terminal and was quite struck by the changes to the central business district. As is the case with many great cities around the world a significant amount of revitalization has taken place. Of note is the enormous new International Commerce Centre on the other side of Victoria Harbour, in West Kowloon.

Something that hasn't changed is the Star Ferry terminal and the ferry to Kowloon. It still has that old-world charm.

Stepping off the ferry I was surprised at how many new buildings and shops have emerged. Kowloon was once a great place to buy cheap electronic goods, not all of them legit, but now it's more about high-end outlets selling expensive watches, clothing and handbags. It reminds me of the expensive shopping districts in Paris and Rome. The markets, however, have retained much of their charm and are their usual bustling, overcrowded selves.

After lunch I strolled through the Mongkok district with its bird and jade markets. I saw many carved jade objects including earrings and jewellery, and dragons and tigers. The next day I took a ferry to Lamma Island and visited one of the beautiful sandy beaches. Very peaceful and a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of Kong Kong. The village is filled with laid-back cafes and after eating I wandered around looking at the boutiques and craft stores.

The next day I went for a ride on one of the trams to Kennedy Town and back. The tram system has been in operation for over 110 years and is one of only three non-heritage tram systems in the world that use double-deck cars. Afterwards I walked back down to the waterfront and caught the bus to the iconic cable tram that goes up the side of Victoria Peak. What an incredible view! That evening I relaxed in the hotel and reflected on my two days spent in Hong Kong. In conclusion, even though there have been a lot of changes-new buildings, shops etc.-the city is still a remarkable fusion of East and West, a mix of old and new. I thoroughly recommend calling in when you have a chance.

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