Hong Kong Favourites (10-6)
Hong Kong is a bustling, noisy, crowded and constantly vibrant city. Industrial and heavy transport estates are surrounded by densly packed high rise and neon-lit shopping precicints that are not infrequently compared to Ridley Scott’s vision of the future in Blade Runner. But, like any city, Hong Kong has places where one can find a […]
Hong Kong is a bustling, noisy, crowded and constantly vibrant city. Industrial and heavy transport estates are surrounded by densly packed high rise and neon-lit shopping precicints that are not infrequently compared to Ridley Scott’s vision of the future in Blade Runner.
But, like any city, Hong Kong has places where one can find a little peace. In fact, every resident I talk to has a list of their own and rarely do the lists mention the same destinations. The five I’ve mentioned below are not all places I visit frequently, but they have all, at one time or another been an important sanctuary.
10. Hueng Yip Road Sitting Out Area. Hong Kong has a number of small roadside parks that are officially called sitting out areas. Typically clean and usually well vegetated, these will have comfortable benches and often include a few exercise machines for the elderly.
This one is located one street back from busy Wong Chuk Hang Road in Aberdeen, by a charming canal. For Hong Kong, this is a very mixed area – post-industrial buildings, schools, sports grounds, residential complexes, a huge municipal pool, police academy, hospices, a food market and the enormous Ocean Park complex.
One day this will be the centre of Hong Kong’s creative sector. But, for now this little park is the perfect place to sit and dream, while you catch your breath on a hot day.
9. Fuel Espresso. In every city I’ve lived, there has always been a cafe that defined my relationship to that place, a cafe that I would head to with a good book, or as a place to do some writing. It wasn’t till Fuel opened in the ifc Mall that I found that place in Hong Kong. The jazz-centric playlist, dark brown aesthetic and great coffee won me over instantly.
Of course, my relationship with Fuel has grown since then. They staged my Ladakh photo exhibition last year and I designed the sound for their new store in the Landmark building. But, I’ve always paid for my espresso there and for as long as I stay in Hong Kong they will be my coffee-haven.
8. Tap Mun Chau. I’ve mentioned Hong Kong’s smaller islands before. But, there is perhaps no island more remote or peaceful than Tap Mun Chau (Grass Island). Most people get there via a short hop from Sai Kung Country Park, but I prefer the long slow boat ride along the Tolo Channel.
The island itself is small, easy to walk around, but relentlessly charming (I have a Flickr gallery). It’s claimed that you’ll find some of the cleanest air and water in Hong Kong. Certainly the views are great and the rocky beaches quite dramatic. Find a quiet spot away from the campers and it is easy to forget that one of the busiest and most crowded cities in the world is only a few miles away.
7. Edward Youde Aviary. Hong Kong Park is right in the centre of town and one of its best attractions is this large, enclosed bird sanctuary. Apparently there are around 100 species in there, living in lush and comfortable surroundings. In a city where you seldom hear the sound of birds, this has often felt like a little slice of paradise.
It also carries a lot of significance for me, because in the years that we tried to attend church in Hong Kong, we often wound up in this aviary on a late Sunday morning. The sense of connection to nature, with the light filtering through the trees and the sound of gently running water below the high wooden walkways gave me a feeling of peace I never found in a church in this town. Sanctuary indeed!
6. Hong Kong City Hall. Nothing has ever given me a greater sense of peace than listening to good music and Hong Kong City Hall is my favourite music venue in this town. It’s a little ramshackle and run down, but the sound is great and vibe just right.
Perhaps the most memorable concerts I saw there, like Emilie Simon and McCoy Tyner, came in ’07-’08, which was a bleak period. I wasn’t enjoying life in Hong Kong and those gigs were like musical beacons of hope. In a way, Hong Kong City Hall, along with the Hong Kong Cultural Centre and the Academy for Performing Arts played a major role in helping me be at peace with living in this city for so long.