Hong Kong is a city on the eastern Pearl River Delta in South China. One of the most densely populated places in the world, there are over 7.5 million people across 426 square miles. It is also one of the most developed cities and a major global financial centre and commercial port.
Beginning in 1841, Hong Kong was established as a colony of the British Empire. In 1896 it expanded to the Kowloon Peninsula. The whole territory was transferred to China in 1997, including Macau. Till today, Hong Kong maintains separate governing and economic systems from that of mainland China. Its currency is the Hong Kong dollar and has the largest concentration of ultra-high-net-worth individuals of any city in the world. Severe income inequality exists among the population with the housing market being the most expensive housing market in the world.
It's a long 16 hour flight from NY to Hong Kong. We traveled from JFK to Detroit, flew over the North Pole to Beijing and then a connection to Hong Kong. First Class on Delta was excellent; Vince and I each had our own cubby, closed off to other people, nice size TV screen, a full assortment of movies, wifi of course and several meals served with care along the journey. We checked in to our hotel; The Ritz Carlton became our home for the next 7 nights, rising 118 floors above the city in Kowloon’s Commerce Centre. The 5 star accomodations offer tranquility and beauty overlooking the skyline and Victoria Harbour. There are 2 Michelin starred restaurants and lovely places to relax, including an amazing spa and a futuristic nightclub rooftop lounge (Ozone) which was full of high-energy city life and live DJ’s and specialty cocktails. A mixologist is at your service, and carefully places in your martini glass a large square ice cube with an orchard in it. Probably one of the nicest bar lounges I can ever remember sitting at.
Time honored traditions meet modern innovations and live side-by-side in Hong Kong. Chinese customs blend with global influences which can clearly be seen in the markets on the back roads, the massive and modern skyscrapers amongst small buildings scaffolded with bamboo. Shopping is unbelievable; the abundance of high-end designer shops such as Gucci, Prada, Chanel, Valentino, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo and more are everywhere, duplicated several times within a 20 block area. Kowloon Park is a scenic area to stroll through, the restaurants in Tsim Sha Tsui are worth a try and make sure you get a foot reflexology hour spa treatment along the way, clearly the bargain of the town. I found that immersing yourself in the culture by walking the markets, main shopping areas and the parks is the way to really understand this great city of interest. Experiencing the food, you will notice that it is nothing like the Chinese food we are used to eating in America. Regional and hard core dishes are in abundance and some of their delicacies may basically freak you out.
View from our hotel room at the Ritz - 109th floor
Chinese medicinal herbs are used in traditional Chinese medicine for healing, inflammation and many other health conditions. You will find a medicinal herb store on each street you walk; jars and jars of different herbs used for very specific reasons for better health. Some include: Astagalus to support Immune system, Cinnamon for Blood Sugar, Ginkgo Biloba for Brain Health, Ginger to help inflammation and Ginseng for Immune Support and more.
Hong Kong is known to smell. Yes, you will get a whiff of a distinct fishy smell particularly in the food street markets on a hot, sticky day, which is about 360 days out of the year. It’s basically the dried seafood that is hanging in the windows and on pavements outside shops.
The Temple Street Night Market is the largest and liveliest flea market in the city. It spans over eight blocks and Tin Hau Temple is right in the middle of the market.
Stanley Market, the Ladies Market and the Jade Market are just a few of the more popular street markets to experience.
Shopping is a big reason to visit Hong Kong. The things to buy include: Tailor-made suits and shirts, designer clothes and handbags, cosmetics and perfume, electronics, jewelry and watches.
Nathan Road is the main shopping street, connecting two famous shopping areas:
Mong Kok and Tsim Sha Tsui. They are a shopping paradise. Traditional Hong Kong style foods can also be found. Be careful what you ask for, they sell some very regional and funky foods on a stick (all kinds of animal parts and organs.)
Top sights to see in Hong Kong:
Hong Kong Disneyland, Victoria Peak, Victoria Park, Big Buddha, Symphony of Lights, Tai Mo Shan Waterfalls and Dragon’s Back.
A city of China by the South China Sea that you can visit via ferry from Hong Kong. It is the most densely populated region in the world, with 680,000 people in a 12.7 sq mile area. Until 1999, Macau was a Portuguese colony and then transferred over to China. It maintains its own economic and governing system from that of mainland China, following the principle of “one country, two systems.” There is a unique blend of Portuguese and Chinese architecture in the city’s historic centre. Referred to as the “Las Vegas of the East”, it has become a destination for gambling tourism, with a gambling industry seven times larger than Las Vegas.
Similar to Las Vegas, the hotel chains are grand, and are very large entertainment havens. We enjoyed walking through Caesars & the Venetian and marveled at the vibrancy and money being thrown around on the craps tables, black jack tables and in the slot machines.
It was a day trip, we were anxious to return to the peaceful Ritz Carlton and relax with a cocktail and fine meal. The ferry experience was very chaotic, just going through passport control, waiting on the line for over one hour. Macau, it was nice to meet you, will probably never see you again!