I don’t really know what expectations I had about Hong Kong, but I suppose I was expecting it to be all towering skyscrapers and silver, shiny cityscapes. Of course, this was one element of Hong Kong’s landscape, but I was most impressed by the trashy side streets, secluded shrines, and tiny, cluttered shops. There was such a juxtaposition of cultures, times, and traditions; it felt so unreal! A shop stuffed with birds’ nests could be just around the corner from an organic, vegan grocery store; British pubs sat across from dim sum restaurants; ancient temples stood in the shadows of glittering apartment buildings. Not to mention the bamboo scaffolding that covered at least one building on every single block. Hong Kong is a city that seems perpetually under construction, ever expanding.
The Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road at night.
We stayed in the SoHo area of Hong Kong, which I really knew nothing about, but had chosen due to a cheap hotel deal… Anyway, this area was awesome! It was definitely the funkiest, liveliest area of the city. There were so many wonderful cafes, cool bars, and endless side streets slathered with graffiti. While winding up and down some of these side streets, we happened upon the Man Mo Temple.
The temple was constructed in 1847 in honor of the Gods of Literature and War.
I was surprised by how completely different Hong Kong’s temples were compared with Korea’s and Japan’s. I mean, there was just no comparison at all; even the incense was totally different.
We noticed so many shrines similar to this one, but on a much smaller scale, tucked into corners of shops. I love it when countries maintain their traditions in the presence of modernity; that’s definitely one of my favorite things about Japan, too!
A little shrine hidden down a side street in SoHo. Those incense coils were so distinctive to Hong Kong.
So much amazing street art (and the streets were so clean, in comparison to Korea!)
Even the tiniest shops were absolutely stuffed with as many bits and pieces as possible; all the random strings of lights on this electrical shop were flashing and buzzing like nuts.
Funky lanterns hanging on the side of the shop.
The closer we got to Central Station, the less funky side streets we saw, and the city seemed much wider and sleeker.
The city was still all decked out in Christmas lights, and stayed that way even after New Year’s Day!
Poinsettias, fairy lights, and…palm trees?! Super weird!
Old-fashioned trams still operate in the area around Central Station, I just wish they’d maintained their old-timey look, instead of being plastered in advertisements.
Shops covered in tacky red and gold trinkets for Chinese New Year.
One of SoHo’s many side streets, packed with makeshift stalls selling all kinds of odds and ends. There were even little ‘pop-up’ restaurants down these streets in the evening; it was so random walking past people sitting on tin chairs in the middle of an alley, while an old lady prepared plates of fish from a ramshackle stall.
More funky street art.
Stuff plastered over stuff!
Strange advertisement (for turtle soup or something?!)
So many of the little shops had resident cats, as well as caged songbirds hanging from the ceilings.
Bright ‘n’ colorful SoHo shopfronts.
‘The Yorkshire Pudding’ pub in SoHo.
Of course, we didn’t just hang around SoHo and Central. We also took a stroll along the Avenue of Stars on the Victoria Harbor waterfront (mainly just to check out the iconic Bruce Lee statue!)
Hong Kong was super smoggy. I was actually really surprised how few people I saw wearing face masks. My skin just felt so dirty and grimy after being out for the day!
Pretty sunset slicing through the smog.
There was a huge fair on during our visit; I thought for sure the New Years Eve crowds would be mental, but it really wasn’t too bad.
Many of the skyscrapers shot off their own fireworks displays.
Though the majority of the fireworks were shot off from Victoria Harbor. The fireworks display was pretty impressive, though apparently it’s got nothing on their Chinese New Years celebrations! I’m not sure I’d wanna be anywhere near Hong Kong during Chinese New Year, though, cuz the amount of smoke that filled the air following the New Year’s display was not pleasant at all. Yucky McYuckersons.
See ya later, Hong Kong! Thanks for showin’ us a good time, and a great start to 2015! ❤