Hong Kong Island



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Hong Kong is in an interesting position at the moment, it was handed back to China by the British in 1997, but it didn't entirely become part of China, and it won't until 50 years after the handover. Part of the idea behind this is to allow both entites to "acclimatise" to each other. Hence the phrase "one country, two systems".

My first trip to Hong Kong was in 1989, combined with a week in China, we only stayed two nights, and being 6 years old at the time I don't remember a whole lot. The hotel was the Marriott at Pacific Place, which was only half built at the time, we were on the highest floor that had been finished so far. More recently I was there for a long weekend combined with a trip to Vietnam, and we stayed in Kowloon which affords great views over to Hong Kong Island itself.


1989

A view over the city of Hong Kong from the top of the Victoria Peak, in early 1989. Note the tall criss-crossed Bank of China building on the right of the photo, newly constructed.


The same view taken 18 years later in early 2007. Very few features are still apparent from 1989, the most obvious are the criss-crossed Bank of China on the right and some of the apartments in the foreground. The rest has sunk beneath the waves of development.

2007

Boat

Looking towards central district from Kowloon, the curvy building is the conference centre built on reclaimed land, and the tall building behind it is "Central Plaza", built in 1992.


The skyline is too long to photograph in detail in one shot! This is to the right of the previous photo, with the most significant structure being 2 International Finance Centre, the tallest building in the city as of 2003, but soon to be overtaken by another across the harbour.

Messing about on the river

Central

On the left of this photo is my favourite building in Hong Kong, the Bank of China tower. It is 72 storeys tall and has a unique angular design, inspired by bamboo. It also projects bad feng shui at all of its neighbouring banking competitors with its sharp corners. The building on the horizon towards the right that looks a bit like a bowl is the Victoria Peak viewing tower and mall.


A close up of the Victoria Peak Tower from the last photo, it was not here when I was in 1989.

Victoria Peak

Sea of people

Hong Kong has a huge population of predominantly female nannies, cleaners and general home helpers, who when they have a day off, congregate en masse in the walkways and entrances to the towers in central district. This picture was taken at eye level.


The density of people in Hong Kong is reflected by the density of accommodation, almost everyone lives in huge blocks of flats in very close quarters, rent per square foot is extortionate.

Egg box buildings

Extreme density

The density of the city is apparent from the Victoria Peak, apartment blocks seem to just spring forth from the ground.


Back at (nearly) ground level your vision is restricted to only a few hundred metres in any direction, through the forest of buildings.

Street scene

Escalator

The traditional way up the Victoria Peak is to take the tram, but being Aberdonian, we wernae gaun tae pay fir 'at! We walked, it took about two hours in the stifling heat but we were helped along the way by the occasional public escalator.


The Lippo Centre, part of Pacific Place this was right across from our 1989 hotel, when this photo was taken. Note the British flag still flying proudly! Ah, those were the days...

The Lippo Centre

Nice flats

Although most of the aparment buildings resemble egg cartons from the outside, many are exceedingly luxurious on the inside. These are on the route up Victoria Peak.


Some flats look woefully grim, these are actually right next door to the ones in the previous photo.

Not so nice flats

You will be wanting jumbo size madam!

We knew we were in the right place when we came across the Jumbo floating restaurant, reputedly the world's largest! Better yet, it's in Aberdeen.


We took a short sampan ride around Aberdeen harbour, this is the view across it with a mountain of flats in the background. It tries hard, but it just can't beat the original Aiberdeen, ye ken.

Bonny Aiberdeen, ye ken

International Finance Centre

Back in central district, at 2 IFC. It is the same height as the old World Trade Center in New York and from a distance it resembles an electric nose hair trimmer.


The 2 IFC nose clipper building by night, the tip kept disappearing into the cloud. The blue and purple lit building on the right is known simply as "The Centre".

2 IFC at night

Light show

The city loves to put on a light show, and does so every evening at 8pm in time to music, best viewed from the Avenue of the Stars in Kowloon. Lasers, search lights and bright colours light up the sky.


After the action is over, the skyscrapers continue to glow pleasantly. I particularly like what they've done with the angular Bank of China tower.

Night lights

Exhibition centre

The conference centre doesn't miss out on the action either...


Repulse Bay is a smaller, more relatively secluded and exclusive area of Hong Kong Island, this is the park at the waterfront. The overhanging apartments in the background are interesting.

Repulse Bay

Stanley market

Stanley market is a popular area for tourist bargains, which although cheap for Hong Kong is not quite down at the level of thriftiness that can be achieved in Vietnam!


Stanley Bay itself is a great place to meet other expats, drink some warm British beer and scoff down some fish and chips. I think it looks more like a Spanish resort than something you'd find in Hong Kong.

Stanley

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Copyright © Ross Wattie 2007