I’m in Hong Kong with a day to see and explore the old neighbourhood before hopping on a plane to Melbourne. I didn’t get much sleep on the plane, even after two glasses of wine, which is actually doing wonders for my jetlag.
I haven’t been here in 8 years and it feels like my sentimental side is taking a firm hold. I went to visit my grandmother’s old apartment building, back when she was (alive, obviously, and) still living here, near the complex in which I grew up. On the way, I stumbled on what I think is the playground at which I played giant plastic tic-tac-toe, and the city square on which I used to watch people do tai chi in the morning. I’m hoping to take a look around the old shopping plaza today, popping in to the wet market for that butcher smell.
My past direct flights to Hong Kong took me over Korea and Japan, and watching the lights of the megalopoli pass was one of my favourite parts of the route. This time we flew over Russia and China (originally routed to be straight over Beijing) which meant two polar twilights. The colour, the feeling, of the sky is just different at high latitudes, and every peek snuck out the window bathed my row in pink and orange.
I’d forgotten the scale of things in Hong Kong. There are plenty of pictures of the nighttime downtown, but really they just evoke an image of a very, very big city. Here’s the port of Hong Kong. You can see about part of a quarter of it. Currently the third busiest port in the world, driving by it has a Burtynskyan appreciation for the sheer volume of modern international commerce. I was also struck by the giant apartment complexes: dozens of floors of thin building, a handful all wedged together. When I was here as a kid, living on the island, I I developed an image of Hong Kong as a tightly packed, slightly dusty city, buildings 5 or 10 stories high with nary an inch between them. The suburbs where I grew up were more similar, but they feel different from the road. I’ve seen these before but it feels like there are a lot more of them, and now I’m consciously trying to square these different ideas of the city and hopefully I’ll be able to take a walk around a couple more of these developments in the future.
Okay, time to get ready to start the day and head onwards to Melbourne!