There’s only so much a guidebook, or nowadays, the internet can tell you. The real heart and soul of a city is in the tales of the people that live and breathe in it.

H ong Kong is a city that wouldn’t dare to shut its eyes. Many who travel here try to keep up with the cities energetic pace and flair, only to find themselves falling behind. With character running through its veins, Hong Kong can only be described by the clashing smells of the daily catch in street markets, to the tobacco-drenched whiffs from the market vendors as they prepare it for you to take home. The bright city lights that act as lighthouses through the polluted smog to the sound of laughter, chatter and honking. Hong Kong is for the live-fast die-young type, however it’s easy to forget that the gateway to South East Asia isn’t limited to its dense city centre and port. Beyond this, you’ll come across beaches, mountains and jungle so it’s worth taking a trip out of the tourist traps to remind you of life here before skyscrapers dominated the sky.

Luckily we had the pleasure to meet both new and old faces during our first few days in Hong Kong, which meant we got to see so many different sides to this glorious city. For very different reasons, everyone we met saw Hong Kong as a wonderful home – even if it was only temporary. Tim, a family relative working in the city, enjoys escaping to Hong Kong’s luscious countryside where you can find incredible hiking trails through waterfalls and peaks. As we clambered up a banana tree covered path to the first waterfall with sounds of birds chirping and monkeys rustling in the canopies, we suddenly had to remind ourselves we were still in Hong Kong. This was one of our favourite memories of our short stay, for the very reason that it was unlike anything we had pictured the city to be. Outside of the city, Hong Kong offers a hidden tropical paradise for those of us that like to slow down once in a while.

Jess, an old family friend, showed us the Hong Kong we had imagined, only to new heights. The city’s buildings that rule the sky is what makes Hong Kong a photographers paradise, and we were lucky enough to see the city from the 31st floor at bar alto. As a playground for the young and wealthy, Hong Kong can offer a buzzing lifestyle filled with lavish dining, drinking and partying. Away from the city’s streets, junk boats patiently wait in the harbour for the weekend to arrive when they take the party to the middle of the ocean – as if there was no excuse to put down your beer.

In the streets below the sky scrapers, we met a lovely Philippino waitress in an Italian restaurant for the sheer opportunity to gain the experience that was crucial for her future aspirations to run her own food truck, as well as good income to fund travel and opportunities to connect with travellers like us. Despite feeling the chaos amidst the ongoing protests, we sat and talked about like-minded interests and saw a side to Hong Kong that offered a safe base to grow, be inspired and learn. With great connections to Thailand, the Philippines and other wanderlust destinations, it is a gateway to explore more of what the world has to offer without flying the distance.

There’s only so much a guidebook, or nowadays, the internet can tell you. The real heart and soul of a city is in the tales of the people that live and breathe in it. Through my own eyes, I could appreciate the diversity, friendliness and character of Hong Kong, yet the ongoing protests in the city’s streets only add to the chaotic feel of this place, and provide a sad insight into the political situation of Hong Kong. Couple this with harsh smog smothering the sky, Hong Kong is a bittersweet memory.

Leave a Reply