One of the most densely populated places on the planet, Hong Kong is an experience for the senses. Home to over 7.5m people, and by far the largest number of skyscrapers of any city, it was a British colony for just over 150 years before being handed back to China in 1997. I visited just before Christmas in 2010. It has changed significantly in some ways since then, particularly the skyline and political scene, but I also suspect that the unique Hong Kong character remains strong.
Across Victoria Harbour from Hong Kong Island, Kowloon is the most populous part of Hong Kong, home to 2m people. It is relatively low rise in comparison with Hong Kong Island, other than the 484m high International Commerce Centre on the left below. This is the tallest building in Hong Kong, and one of the highest in the world.
The Kowloon waterfront is home to the Cultural Centre, a performance centre which opened 1989. It was built on the site of Kowloon Station, of which all that remains is the 44m high former Kowloon-Canton Railway Clock Tower dating from 1915.
The waterfront is also one of the best places to see the skyline of Hong Kong Island at night, with hundreds of illuminated buildings.
Hong Kong Museum of History opened in 1975, and is home to an extensive and interesting collection.
Kowloon Park was a former British Army Barracks, redeveloped in 1970 to a 13 hectare oasis in the city.
The entrance to Nan Lian Gardens under elevated roads wasn’t very promising, but the place itself was quite magical. The 3.5 hectare Classical Chinese gardens opened in 2006, and are beautifully maintained.
I only made a fleeting visit to Lantau Island, the largest island in Hong Kong, home to the airport and Tian Tan Buddha (The Big Buddha). I reached the island by taking the train and then the Ngong Ping 360, a 5.7km scenic cable car ride that lasts for 25 minutes.
It took me to Po Lin Monastery, founded in 1906.
Tian Tan Buddha (The Big Buddha) when completed in 1993 was the largest seated outdoor bronze Buddha statue in the world. It’s 34m high, and weighs 250 tons.
A few photos of typical Hong Kong life, busy and bustling.
Less expected was how much they celebrate Christmas, or at least the decorations and commercial aspects of it…