Hong Kong, China Day 1

                                                          View from Victoria Peak

March 28, 2010

Hong Kong is a unique city, and from what we’ve seen it retains the best of the old Chinese traditions and mixes that successfully with modern sophistication.  The city is a major financial center and yet is concerned that they are losing ground to Shanghai in that regard.  When the British ceded Hong Kong and the Kowloon Peninsula back to mainland China in 1997, they required that Hong Kong be allowed to remain the same for a period of 50 years.  Apparently Hong Kong is having an effect on mainland China, setting a good example for what is possible, and China has changed greatly in the last 20 years.

Our tour was called Hong Kong’s Best and was 8 hours in duration.  Our first stop was the Bird Market and Flower Market.  The flower market was as expected.  The bird market has birds and supplies for sale, including live grasshoppers in various sizes to help the birds sing better, and is also a gathering place for old men who bring their pet birds out for fresh air and social time.  

With the limited living space available in Hong Kong, birds have become the pet of choice, and they are given to retired men to get them out of the house on a frequent basis so the women have some time to relax from their housework.  The birds’ singing is quite loud.  

The next stop on our itinerary was the Jade Market, where they have all sorts of jewelry of various grades.  Our guide told us that any piece of jade jewelry costing more than $15 was probably not a good buy, because not all of the jewelry is genuine jade.  Apparently there was a fruit market nearby that we opted not to go to, but most people said that it was a much better attraction than the Jade Market.

From the Jade Market we drove across to Hong Kong Island, where we boarded the tram and rode to the top of Victoria Peak.  The views from the top of the peak are spectacular (photo above) and here), and would be even more so if the pollution haze was less.  We had a set menu lunch at a restaurant called Deco Cafe, which was quite nice.

Following lunch we drove to the area of the Aberdeen fishing village, where we took a ride on a sampan through the fishing village after passing through a lane of huge, shiny, very expensive yachts.  All of the sampans were beautifully decorated.  The ride through the fishing village was picturesque, and interesting, for the variety of boats and the activity on them.   Apparently the fishing village is a dying way of life because the younger generations are not interested in working so hard for so little money.  One cannot blame them for that, yet it is at the same time sad to see a tradition being lost.  

From the fishing village we headed for a jewelry store where they make a lot of jade jewelry.  For those of us who weren’t interested in buying expensive jewelry, the stop was best remembered as a rest stop.

We then drove past Repulse Bay, which has beautiful beaches, over to the very famous Stanley Market, which is a sight to behold.  There are many stalls, selling all sorts of merchandise, much of it souvenir items.  There is almost too much to see here, but it is good that there are many vendors.  When a vendor wanted to charge us one price in Hong Kong dollars and a much higher one if we paid in US dollars, it was easy to walk away, because we knew we could find an honest vendor if we really wanted the item.

The design of this building in the Repulse Bay area is interesting because the hole in the middle was put there to allow the dragon which the people believe lives on the top of the mountain, to make its way to the sea along its usual path without needing to make a detour (something you really don’t want to force a dragon to do...).  As we retraced our path to get back to the ship, our guide showed us the gate to Jackie Chan’s residence, which is plated with gold.

This was a nice tour with a good variety of activities.  We ended our day by watching the nightly light show from the ship.  All the buildings near the shore on Hong Kong Island light up in a variety of colors and patterns and send out laser lights in addition.  It lasts for about 15 minutes and is fun to watch.

                                                             Aberdeen Fishing Village                                                       

© Susan L. Stone 2015                   rovingstones@me.com