Foreword: Hong Kong is weird.
We landed at around midday and took the 25 minute express train from the airport island to Hong Kong Island. When we arrived in the central district, we hailed a cab to take us to the district of Wan Chai- the location of our hostel. Hong Kong is a pretty small, compact city. It’s also pretty busy- what should have been no more than a 2 minute drive, ended up somewhere close to 20 minutes with the traffic. We stumbled upon the hostel by chance- the driver had no real grasp of the English language and no idea what a hostel was, never mind where it was located. Instead we got out at a corner at started walking. It was only when we stopped to adjust our bags that I noticed the small placard Hostel sign; colligated with another 20 other signs and directing us to a narrow walkway and to an elevator. The hostel continued the consensus of the Wan Chai district- small, crowded, hectic and fairly cheap; Had a pretty decent view though.
° ° °
Wan Chai is an odd one. The streets are pretty dirty and a consistent smell of lard, raw fish and petrol fumes, saturate the air. The buildings are mostly rundown- dilapidated towers that sit uncomfortably close to one another. Yet this is perhaps one of the most authentically crazy and buzzing Asian districts to the city.
It is pretty evident to see that Wan Chai is one of the older regions of Hong Kong and one which has, to an extent, escaped much of the Western influences (unlike the central district). It is also considered a seedy, red-light district and a pretty crazy night out. We didn’t manage to make it on a night out along the infamous Lockhart Road, but we did bear witness to a couple of people lying face down in the street the morning after!
° ° °
Central Hong Kong
We walked from Wan Chai through to the Central district- the business hub of the city. Here the streets become wider, towers taller and public spaces more frequent. There is a clear British influence around the streets- the buildings and street names change from making no sense at all to being written in English. The buildings are slick and each vow to compete with each other for height and aesthetic appearance. As Architecture students, both Jay and myself take our time to explore the more famous structures including Fosters’ Shanghai HSBC bank, which was particularly stunning!
Deviating from the chaotic business hub we took a walk in the central park, which opens out to provide some of the better views of the skyline without having to creak your neck too much. Our plan was to walk from the park to the Victoria Peak tram stop and capture the sunset from the most famous and postcard view across Hong Kong. However we did not account that it was a Saturday and we were planning to head up the peak at the busiest time of the day- therefore we were cut short by the length of the queue. Instead, we headed into the Soho district.
It’s pretty crazy how you can start in Wan Chai, where no one speaks English and nothing makes sense to us and then to come to Soho- 15 minutes on the other side of town- where everything is English and all the people are European and all hanging out of bars watching sport and drinking beer. Its a pretty cool place and we felt a lot more at home. We decided to eat in one of the restaurants and then headed further into the main strip, where plenty of bars and small clubs were beginning to get busy. However after our first few drinks the jet-lag began to really kick in, so we decided it was best to head back to the hostel and see out the remainder of our first day.