Impressions of Hong Kong & Macau
Hong Kong is a fascinating place to visit. London double-deck buses travelling streets lined with Chinese market stalls, masterly crowd management in the ferry boat stations, superb altitude vistas over the bays of the South China Sea and forests of modern skyscrapers. It's all there, but against the background realisation that few places on earth live less with the past in their luggage than Hong Kong: Hong Kong is about today and tomorrow, and yesterday is plain history, let alone the distant era when the first Western navigators steered their 16th century galleons and caravels into the protected natural harbour between Hong Kong Island and mainland China. Rare are the vestiges of those early colonial days which have survived the fever of development; most of times, an ancient edifice impeding the construction of yet another skyscraper in Hong Kong Central, has ended up being knocked down, unceremoniously sacrificed on the altar of progress. Life must go on, business too. Yet, some nuance is justified: whereas Hong Kong Central is constantly rushing and hyper-busy, the more outlying spots in the South of Hong Kong Island are more relaxed. Stanley and Aberdeen are worth a visit, be it simply because they are indeed quieter, laid-back places. And so are the other islands of the Hong Kong archipelago. Take for instance the tiny island of Po Toi and its idyllic Tai Wan bay; or take the cable car ride on Lantau Island, 25 minutes of absolute silence around you – the whistle of the wind apart – while you sail in the air over harbours, forests and waterfalls to the Buddhist sanctuary of Po Lin; in addition, a cultural bath is awaiting you in nearby Macau, where the Portuguese inheritance of buildings and urban atmosphere has been allowed more generously to withstand the sledgehammer of modern growth.
For a very long time, Hong Kong has been living with as little attention for the future as it showed for the past: it was only as the end of Britain's lease of the New Territories in 1997 was approaching, that the issue started raising questions as to how Hong Kong's ultra-capitalist society would fare after the hand-over to China in a theoretically perfect but factually - to say the least - questionable 'one country, two systems' arrangement. The answers differ: some in Hong Kong intensify their 'quick and short term gains' approach, as long as it lasts; others are more confident, or maybe just more hopeful, that in the end the Hong Kong tail is going to wag the Chinese dog; some openly demonstrate their concern at the risk of not pleasing those who need to be pleased; and most stand by and mechanically adapt to a transition which is as unclear of finality, as it is fast and certain of advancement. Hong Kong changes fast indeed. Pictures can merely grab a moment, but in this report, they also grab moments of the past, and our impressions capture those moments too, beyond the present and into the past, helping to understand the future.
Before visiting the place of your choice:
Kowloon Park is located in the Southern section of Kowloon, Tsim Sha Tsui, at the spot where until 1970 the British Army was stationed in barracks. In 1970 the military buildings were demolished, giving way to a large park re-development. Some of the area was later re-assigned again for the construction of retail premises, but Kowloon Park remains a valuable feature, especially for the local inhabitants who come and use their sparse free time to work out, to relax and to take a moment's break from the pressures of a very competitive society.