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Blog // Travel
April 11, 2011

Hong Kong Favourites (5-1)

Here’s the final instalment of my top twenty five things about living in Hong Kong. I started this list back in late January and always intended to take my time writing it. After all, this is meant to be a very personal and personally biased collection. Few of my choices would make it onto a […]

TST Tilt Shift

Here’s the final instalment of my top twenty five things about living in Hong Kong. I started this list back in late January and always intended to take my time writing it. After all, this is meant to be a very personal and personally biased collection.

Few of my choices would make it onto a typical visitor oriented list of attractions. In fact, I believe that if you’ve lived in a place for any length of time and your favourites match up with the typical fare from a tourist board or publication, then you’ve probably failed to carve out your own niche in that city.

Not that I will claim any kind of expertise in everything Hong Kong has to offer. Looking at the MTR (underground urban rail) map tells me that there are two stops on the lines I most often use (Tai Wo Hau and Heng Fa Chuen) that I’ve never visited. That immediately makes me wonder if I’ve really explored this city as broadly as I explored Delhi or London.

Of course, most of us only ever manage to partially experience any place we live in. I grew up in Sydney and yet there were suburbs that I only ever drove through and never really knew. And, when I talk about London and Delhi I’m mostly talking about slices of each city.

Anyway here are the links to the previous instalments of this list, before the final five.

Hong Kong Favourites (25-21)
Hong Kong Favourites (20-16)
Hong Kong Favourites (15-11)
Hong Kong Favourites (10-6)

5. Hong Kong Post. I don’t think any local company can match Hong Kong Post for efficiency, quality or customer service. What I love about Hong Kong post isn’t just that they do their job, or offer a good price for their services; it’s the obvious pride their staff take in the work they do. We sometimes forget, in talking about our globally connected digital age, that the backbone of this life is still the posting and delivery of physical goods. Hong Kong post is a great reminder that when you have a fantastic postal service you almost don’t notice them – until you try visiting a post office in another country, that is.

4. Ice Skating. You wouldn’t imagine it, based on Hong Kong’s hot and humid climate, but there is a vibrant Ice Skating (and Ice Hockey) culture in this city. I’m not much into Ice Skating myself, but it quickly became my daughter’s passion and travelling with her has given me the chance to visit the city’s rinks. Apart from the crazy 8th floor rink at the Aberdeen Marina Club (in a converted car park), the rest are in Shopping Malls. This creates a wonderful interjection of artistic beauty and athletic fun into the often dull and shuffling consumerism of these soul-less buildings.

3. Le Salon de The de Joel Robuchon. I’m a fan of Joel Robochon’s fine dining establishment, The Atelier. But, my first pick is his more modest Boulangerie and Patisserie, which serves some fantastic Baguette-style sandwiches. I’ve gone there at least once a week since it opened and although the service is sometimes patchy, I’ll keep going back there for as long as I live here. Fantastic sandwiches, excellent croissants and some of the best tasting modern cakes you’ll find anywhere outside Europe.

2. Star Ferry. Pay for your ticket and you get one of the best city views in the world for free. I love the whole vibe of the Star Ferry, from the old boats, to the mostly hand operated gangplanks and the wooden benches. It’s a little piece of funky history right in the middle of a city that is doing almost all it can to erase its past. Moreover, it’s one of the few places in Hong Kong where you get a sense of the city’s disparate elements mingling together. At any one time you might see opera or concert goers sitting near families going shopping, business people travelling from work, couriers shuffling across the harbour, construction workers, teenagers out having fun, tourists and young couples. In a way, the Star Ferry is the heart of Hong Kong.

1. Hong Kong Arts Festival. Some people claim Hong Kong is a cultural desert (OK, I’ve gone close to saying that myself). But, this city really should be proud of its cultural festival, which is one of the best in Asia. The Hong Kong Arts Festival has consistently improved in the near five years I’ve lived here. Every year the festival has been a great opportunity to see fantastic dance, theatre, opera and music. In fact, that’s why I’ve bothered to blog about every festival event I’ve attended. Moreover, the investment in new works is starting to pay off and the organisers are beginning to look for riskier and newer works to feature in the programme. That said, I hope they rethink the decision to drop jazz from the programme.

So, there you have it, twenty five eclectic and personal choices. If you live in Hong Kong I’d love to see your picks for things in this city that stir your soul and make you feel alive.

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