It is always easier to write about a trip once it has passed. With time things settle. It is almost like your experiences find their own place in your “necklace of experiences” (a chain of memories in our minds..) And a little bit of time also works like a sort of a filter.. helping you to pick out the experiences more relevant to you.. and helping you to let go of what does not matter..
However, when you could sit on your hotel bed, on the 23rd floor, facing thousands of windows.. you too would feel inspired.. if not to write, then to think for sure. I have never seen anything like this. So many high buildings and so many windows. Having lived all my life in two small capital cities of Europe, seeing something like this is quite impressive. So here we are, in one of the most densely populated cities of the world, in Hong Kong. I keep looking at these monstrous towers and their windows, and imagining how each window corresponds to a person, with real dreams, hopes and stories. (Of course at the same time I keep wondering how are such high buildings even built and maintained and if the windows are strong enough for my girls not to fall through accidentally..)
After the initial amazement of these high buildings passed… one could focus on the street level.. Discovering vibrant cosmopolitan streets, full of local & international shops, bits of markets here and there, traditional restaurants and trendy coffee shops.. Although my feelings are too raw for interpretation, I do not yet “feel” the Hong Kong streets as if they belonged to one of the most densely populated cities of the world.. At least as long as I do not look up too much 🙂
When it comes to food, then besides some traditional dim sims & noodles, we have chosen to experiment also some modern places (like Ovocafe & Pressed Juices). As much as we love history and traditions, we are equally open to try out the new places.. New things become old things one day. And fresh inspiration is always welcome.
It always feels great to balance the walk in the city with visits to some sort of green area. It can be a park or a seaside, anything that helps you to remind your oneness with the nature.. We did go look for a park or two here too. After walking through the Victoria Park, we realised that it is naive to try to find a calm, not overly crowded, green area in the middle of such big city… We also passed by the Kowloon Park. However, like any children, our girls did also enjoy these playgrounds despite their crowdedness. Very likely that they also need to balance their long city walks.. Similarly you could notice a lot of locals taking this break.. either jogging, sitting on a bench or on the grass, doing exercise, and my favourite.. an elderly man performing his Tai Chi exercises (I wish I had courage to photograph him..) It was quite obvious that these little spots of greenery are vital for the survival and wellbeing of many locals..
When designing our trips we normally go quite free style. We are neither travelling nomads seeking for only authentic suff nor typical tourists sticking strictly to the guidebook check-lists. We are somewhere in-between. We choose some things from the guides, we get some extra inspiration from the internet and then mix this with free cruising around. And all this of course impacted by the mood and behaviour of our kids. There is only that much you can force on a 3 and a 5 year old when they are not in the mood 🙂 So expect adventures, changes and necessity for an extra doze of patience.
Said all this, we have got off our touristic check-list already quite a few bullets within our first four days in the city. We visited the Man Mo Temple, took the Peak tram to enjoy the spectacular views of the city, and last but not least, took the boat to Lantau Island to visit the Po Lin Monastery and the Big Buddha Statue. The ladder being my favourite part of the trip. If we discount the jumping boat and the curvy bus ride, the visit to the temple and to the statue were really inspiring.
Not only do we love to visit temples and monasteries, these places just pass such an enormous sense of calm and serenity. Even our kids kneel down to meditate and jump excitedly to get their own buddha souvenir. Despite being three and five, they have learnt to love the calm during our previous trips to Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia & Bali.
Besides the Big Buddha, we did also enjoy seeing the cattle walking around the temple area. These beautiful animals were mingling with the people quite peacefully… or at least until a lady thought it is a good idea to lean against one of them to get a photo.. she got a fast kick by its horn. You, unidentified male cow, well done! Not everything is for sale & for sure not your zen-time photo and your dignity!
Still after busy & colourful days around the Hong Kong.. when returning to our hotel at the end of the day.. I open the curtain and stare at the windows.. imagining how the people across the street live.. wondering if they are not bothered that their bathtubs are seen across the street.. imagining how does their day look like.. and what do they dream of.. wondering if we have more in common than apart…
Hong Kong to be continued..