Port Profile: Hong Kong

Lion Pavillion
Lion Pavillion

Long known as the gateway to the mysteries and the abundant riches of the Orient, Hong Kong is one of those special places that lives up to its reputation for dramatic and romantic images. My travels there have always made me enjoy a small fantasy in which I’m a bit of a player in a movie, but the thing is I can never decide whether that film is set in the 1930s or contemporary times.

Hong Kong offers so many familiar images ranging from gleaming, artistic skyscrapers to far more traditional and simple sights, such as Chinese junks bobbing in the harbor, often in the shadow of modern cruise ships.

Each visit to Hong Kong forces me to contemplate stunning contrasts: elderly Chinese people laboring behind pushcarts as limousines carrying young executives glide by; market vendors selling chicken parts, snakes and squid while international traders hurry to the exchange.

While Hong Kong offers many insights into traditional urban Chinese life, modern times and high technology are constantly intruding. Often the two co-mingle. Workers use bamboo scaffolding to erect glass and metal skyscrapers. The city operates an efficient subway (with tickets that conveniently work from within your pocket or purse), but you also can hire a rickshaw to get around.

Dai Pai Dong / Streetside Food
Dai Pai Dong / Streetside Food

Hong Kong features one of the world’s largest shopping malls, where you can find the most upscale brands, but you’ll also want to stop at the exciting street markets virtually anywhere in the city. The city boasts hundreds of elegant and sophisticated restaurants catering to international clientele who routinely insist on the best, but for something truly exotic, snack at the countless food stands on the street, called dai pai dong.

These marvelous contrasts make Hong Kong, a Chinese city with a powerful British heritage, a uniquely special place to visit. Hong Kong is a city where you can explore Chinese culture while still maintaining a connection with your Western roots.

The British may have withdrawn from Hong Kong in 1997, handing it over to the Chinese government, which created the Special Administrative Region for governance, but the Brits’ influence can still be found everywhere — from the orderly queues and double-decker buses to English pubs and afternoon tea, as well as the free-market economy, public infrastructure and more.

Avid Cruiser Posts, Photographs and Videos Featuring Hong Kong.