Not Loving Hong Kong


Let’s just say that if you love the built environment, Hong may be your dream town. With a population of about 7.5 million, it’s one of the most densely populated places on the planet.DSC01486.JPG

And there are certainly plenty of beautiful skyscrapers, although the skyline doesn’t hold a candle to Shanghai’s. I just couldn’t get in sync with the place.

Maybe it was because I was coming down with a cold, but didn’t know it yet. Maybe it was because it took exactly two hours from the moment we stepped off the ship until the moment we finally had the tickets to the hop on-hop off  bus in our sweaty little hands. Maybe it was because the friends I was with had different goals for the day than I did. In any event, it was my hardest day so far.


The day started off auspiciously enough as we docked in Hong Kong’s supernaturally green waters. Fast-forward through two exasperating hours of waiting in one line after another, and we were finally seated on the top of the bus. From there we saw




buildings. Lots of buildings, and an amazing traffic scene.


Cute little trolleys,


some cuter than others,


as well as some with surprising slogans.


The crowds were epic, and this was a Sunday. We saw quite a few women in headscarves,


in fact, hundreds of them were camped out on the ground in the park. And many hundred more women, sans headscarves, were camped out on the sidewalks and under overpasses. Later we learned that they are part of the 300,000 domestic workers, Indonesian and Filipino, who come to Hong Kong on two-year contracts. Evidently on their day off they gather together for chat and picnics, a taste of home, but alas, all too often it’s on a blanket on the ground under an overpass. It made me infinitely sad, to think of being away from home and family for two years and having to resort to the concrete solace of a sidewalk get-together.


Personally, I was dying for some greenery. And for dim sum. I had enticed three fellow passengers with me for a dim sum lunch. What I didn’t realize was that they had no idea what dim sum entailed. So even though I took them to a carefully-researched place that I was sure they would love, because it’s the kind of place I love, the adventure was a total bust. They found the food too weird, and sorely lamented the lack of beer. Even though I found everything to be delicious, it was more or less spoiled by the fact that no one else was enjoying the experience. At least it was cheap, since I felt compelled to pick up the tab.

And to make matters worse, every single one of us had neglected to take a good look at where we had gotten off the bus, and we managed to get completely lost. It was very warm, the humidity was 90%, and everyone was thoroughly miserable, as you can imagine.

We ended up taking taxis home, thereby wasting the relatively stout fee we had paid for the bus, which didn’t help the situation.

One thing I found excellent was that people did speak English, and were willing to help. Two different people went out of their way to try to help us find our restaurant and later, our bus stop, a thing that wouldn’t have happened in, say, Beijing.

By the time I got back to the ship I was starting to realize that my nose was stuffing up and my throat was getting sore. That meant that I spent our second Hong Kong day napping and moping in my cabin, dosing myself with Sudafed, Advil, Ricola, and Eight Immortals Chinese herbal throat candy. Now that we’re in Asia, when we exit the ship we have to pass through temperature sensors. I don’t know what they do with people who have fevers, but I didn’t want to find out.

Who knows, maybe if I had dived back into Hong Kong on that second day everything would have gone swimmingly. But I really think that I’m just not cut out for traipsing around in big cities.


See the pretty lights as far as the eye can see? Those are apartments. And I’m sure they’re coveted and hideously expensive, being right on the water. But to me living in a place like that would be pure hell.


I have to admit, although it makes me feel like a Total Wuss and a Bad Traveler, that I was glad to see Hong Kong recede into the distance as we set sail for Vietnam.

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7 Comments on “Not Loving Hong Kong”

  1. Rocky Says:

    Oh no! dim sum can be incredible in Hong Kong. Should have told you to grab a some roast goose to take aboard with you. It’s magical.

  2. Danielle Swan-Froese Says:

    So sorry you are sick, that is no fun at all! Hopefully it is short lived and you are back to your adventurous self quickly.

  3. Every trip is required to have a “downer day” just so you appreciate all the good stuff. You were smart to stay on board the ship taking care of your cold. At least you were confined during a stay in a city you don’t like.

  4. Hope you feel better, we had a few colds on our HAL world cruise but powered through them. I hope you have a chance to see Hong Kong again…the markets are great and so much fun. We walked all over. I imagine the HOHO (in that traffic) was a bummer. Take care.

  5. 2010ilovehk Says:

    There is the New Territories. Remember 90% of the land is park land with magestic mountains. If you ever return.

  6. 2010ilovehk Says:

    40% is parkland or green. My bad.

  7. When I arrived in Hong Kong I felt exactly the same. Hated it! I’ve been here for almost 8 years now…

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