Day 62-64: Hunkering Down in Hong Kong

Returning to Hong Kong has a romantic flair to it, as this is the city where Gee Kin and I met. I was a young architect starting in the profession, and Gee Kin was reinitiating his career as a structural engineer. There’s no doubt we were impressed with each other, particularly with our mutual sense of humor. While our relationship developed slowly by today’s standards, it gave us sufficient time to think about who we were and whether we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together or not. It must have worked, because we are still together over 35 years later.

Shortly after arrival in Hong Kong we encountered a typhoon. Known as Merbok, it was the first of the year. Everyone scurried to get groceries and head home at the end of the day. It was quiet and the streets were dead empty by early evening. It felt like Chinese New Year’s but without the festive atmosphere where shops are closed and everyone is at home with family celebrating.

After a couple of days of torrential rain, I was able to head outdoors. My first exploration was to the art studio downstairs, where I learned how to copy a Chinese flower pattern and paint with watercolors for the first time ever. It reminded me of second daughter Julianne’s brush painting from her high school days. I felt a bit awkward at painting in water colors, but the instructor was very kind and explained everything very clearly in Cantonese. It gave me a chance to reuse the lively language I learned while living in Hong Kong.

We decided to visit Fulham Garden in Pokfulam, where I lived when I worked for Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway. It wasn’t far from Central, but I had trouble remembering where the bus stop was located. The buildings are taller and there are more of them. Fortunately, there are still pockets that reflect and preserve old Hong Kong. After a quick look, we walked back to Central.

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There are public parks such as Blake Garden tucked into the hillside, as well as many of Hong Kong’s prestigious private and parochial schools. The narrow roads provide relief for old banyan trees that have lived there for centuries. They cling to sides of walls like stubborn old centurions and continue to gasp for air and suck water.

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Many new trendy boutiques and cafes line the pockets above Sai Ying Pun and Sheung Wan. These shops are dotted throughout the area where we are staying and are immersed between many staircases such as Ladder Street and the escalators that ascend from Central to Midlevels. The manual stairs are not as nice as our tiled steps in Golden Gate Heights, but purposeful. Finally, we scaled our Air BNB in the five-level walk-up after plenty of exercise on the hilly side streets.

6 thoughts on “Day 62-64: Hunkering Down in Hong Kong”

  1. Hallo Victoria! Would love to do Hong Kong with you one day, and to see the city through your eyes. Assume you’re also getting in some fabulous eats.

    I’m finally back in SF, and undergoing a bit of jet lag. So I admire your stamina all the more.–Royee

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    1. It would be fun! I haven’t been back here for some time, so it has been an eye-opener for me. The food is over the top and much more inventive now than ever. A lot more foreign influences and blending of cultures. Haven’t been to the Michelin-star Dim Sum yet but the many traditional places provide satisfying choices.
      Take care, give yourself time to pause and reflect on your travels. Look forward to hearing about them after I return next week!

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  2. Is art a new venture for you or did you have previous training? I thought the camel was quite good. I traveled to Hong Kong with my wife and 2 youngest children in October 2001. We loved it. Although the streets were always very busy we felt so safe we allowed the kids to wander the area around our hotel by themselves. Your story reminded me of the escalator and banyan trees. Thx.

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    1. I don’t remember names of any art teachers in high school or college, but did have design classes. Other than that, I took two figure drawing classes in the last year. Much of my drawing experience comes from architectural design and studio classes.
      Glad you could experience the contrast between Asia and Europe. Asia is so gritty and alive, Europe so refined and elegant. Safety in travel is important to me, so Germany is a pleasure and Japan more so than Hong Kong to me. I certainly enjoyed the relative safety and comfort in Hong Kong during the time I lived there. I only came to appreciate the trees and the escalator on this trip!

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  3. Vickie, I love visiting Hong Kong. It is definitely going through a transition though as the PRC dials up the pressure and many residents, but not all, resist by wanting more freedoms not less. There is the gap with the relationship with the PRC and the real estate gap. The real estate is way too high and that too is causing problems. Many also blame the PRC for those high prices, but HK has long been a city of real estate families. It’s my impression that tensions are growing in HK. What do you think?

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    1. I know you find Hong Kong as fascinating as I do. Hong Kong had previously been a borrowed time, borrowed place, and the Chinese have made an effort to correct that. It’s a very complicated situation that will take much more work and effort on both the government and the HK residents. We can discuss further when we meet, as it would take many conversations to understand the interrelated dynamics that drive Hong Kong politics and economics.

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