Places I Visited in Hong Kong
Some Information About Hong Kong
There is much to say about this huge and contrasting metropolis that confuses me already from the political point of view. Many of you might think that Hong Kong is just a Chinese special province just like Tibet or Xinjiang, it is not completely wrong but Hong Kong is much more than this. It is a capitalist fortress in the communist China. It is crazy there, people buy even more than in any other capitalist country and you can find even every kind of western brands. Moreover Hong Kong does not use Yuan, the chinese currency, but Hong Kong dollar which is, more or less, 8 euros.
Hong Kong is special because it is a mix of west and east: the bilingualism enhanced in every school or posters reminds of the British colonization while the smell of the food and the bizzare shining chinese signs hung everywhere make you realize you are still in Asia. Hong Kong is not just a chaotic and bustling city but also has oases of tranquility, beautiful natural sceneries and sandy beaches.
What surprised me is that here nobody speaks Mandarin, not even by mistake, and everyone uses Cantonese which is officially referred to as a dialect of Mandarin even though I think it can be considered more than that. I had studied Mandarin but when I try to understand what Hong Kongers say, I fail because the two languages are very different. For example Mandarin has four tones (5 if u consider the neutral one) while Cantonese has 7. Cantonese has also many words similiar to Japanese because it is closer to ancient Chinese than Mandarin is. English is widely spoken on Hong Kong island but much less if you travel to New Territories. Mandarin is, anyway, a subject studied at school and many of them are able to speak Mandarin although their Cantonese accent might be quite strong. My boyfriend always says that he speaks a better English than Mandarin ahah
This almost city-state is made up of many different islands: Hong Kong island, where the financial and shopping centre is, Lantau island, the green oasis with airport, Lamma Island and many other smaller ones. The part connected to China Mainland and the other islands are called New Territories because British Empire obtained it a bit later than when they had got the main island. The Britons were supposed to keep Hong Kong island forever but should have handed back the New Territories notwithstanding in 1995 they gave the whole colony back to China. The inhabitants were quite scared after witnessing what had happend to China such as the Cultural Revolution and the Beijing uprising, which took place in the previous years, and did not want to stay. This made China work out a solution that will be the special administration granted to Hong Kong and Macau whose expiration date will be 2047.
I explored Hong Kong far and wide, I did not just stay on the main island but I also went to the New Territories and Lantau island. I was even staying in a place located halfway between China border and the island called Shatin, a residential area because my boyfriend’s family hosted me. Yeah, I think I did not say before but my boyfriend is from Hong Kong xD By the way, houses in Hong Kong are pretty small and very expensive! In Europe we complain when the price of a big house with garden is expensive, in Hong Kong, with the same amount of money, you buy a house that is less than 50 square meters. If you are lucky enough, you can get a public housing from the government but you need to queue up waiting for years or else you just rent one using your own finance.
How To Move Around
It is pretty easy to move around in Hong Kong because the city has any means of public transportion that spaces from metro and bus to boats and trams.
The metro is huge and serves even the furthest places. Through the metro you can reach the border with China. It is always very crowded: morning, afternoon, late night, it does not matter.
Buses are very frequent and less crowded than metro. Furthermore, if you are lucky enough, you can get the front seat in the upper deck where you can see the road as if you were driving.
Mini buses can be only found in Hong Kong and are something like the tuk tuk in Thailand ahah they are very fast even though the speed limit does not exceed the 80 km/h (although it merely reached the 60). There are two kinds: the green ones, which are the public one and follows a scheduled route, and the red ones, which are private and stop where they want. The drivers of mini buses are very weird, they always have a lots things on the dashboards and often shout ahah Make sure to use these, it is a very Hong Kong experience.
Trams are found exclusively on Hong Kong island because they are slow and connect nearby places and they need railways to move. I just used tram once or twice but they are very nice, it is like the old Hong Kong when Britons still ruled the colony, although they are narrow and the ceiling is quite low.
Boats connect Hong Kong island with the New Territories. I did not use so I do not know much but my boyfriend said it is more expensive than taking the bus or metro but I suppose it is very good for those who want to have a closer look at the port.
There is no special pass or else to travel around, you just need to get a Octopus Card and recharge whenever you want. You can recharge at Seven Eleven’s or at the specific recharging machine at the entrance of every metro. The price depends on the distance between the metro stations you travelled. The price is fixed when you take the bus and minibus, though. With this card you can also pay food in some restaurants or buy stuff at Seven Eleven and other shops; they always hang outside a sign where they write whether they accept Octopus Card.
This is my starting article about my trip to Hong Kong and Macau, I explained a bit about the culture and said some important facts. In my next articles I will write about the places I visited in this beautiful city and believe me, they are many ?
Stay tuned ❤