We’ve been cold since December. Winter at our latitude is harsh and long and cold. There is no getting around that. You put on your long johns and jeans, your Merrell boots, the Lands End warmest rated coat, and you suck it up.
So, as we thought ahead to a trip for the Chinese New Year vacation scheduled for the beginning of February, we wanted to go somewhere warm. We decided on Hong Kong. After a slight rescheduling due to the flu, we were off. And from now on, when people ask about Hong Kong, I will think about what’s it was like to stand on the street in the sun with a long sleeve tshirt on instead of layers of wind resistant clothing. What a beautiful first impression.
Most people know a little bit about Hong Kong’s history. In the 1800s, the British wanted to continue their lucrative opium trade and blockaded many Chinese ports. Part of the deal to resolve the Opium War was the British occupation of HK. The Japanese occupied it for a few years during WWII as well. With British influence, HK flourished in manufacturing, finance, retail and more. In 1997, HK was handed back to China and the policy of “One country, two systems” began. You see, HK is in China. It is a Chinese city. But it still maintains many of its own laws, its own currency, and some independence from central government rule. (Books have been written about Hong Kong and the interesting history, so there is no need to go into it here. You can view a time line of the last 100+ years at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/country_profiles/6349523.stm)
My Chinese teacher told me once that, in Hong Kong, some people speak Chinese, and everyone speaks English. Tourists from all over Asia go there to shop. The international influence is remarkable. In all of our travels over the years, never before had we been in a place where we couldn’t identify the languages and nationalities around us. It was amazing.
We stayed on Hong Kong Island, across Victoria Harbor from Kowloon. The city was sunny and warm, clean and quiet, big and modern. We walked and rode the trolleys and buses. We watched the lion dance at our hotel (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCwC2OtZHSA), symbolizing joy and happiness for the new year. We watched the New Year fireworks show at the harbor with 10,000 other people (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uCubqTF9C4). We took a mini bus to Stanley on the southern tip of the island. We recovered from the flu. We walked some more, took in the sunshine, and thought about when we would come back to Hong Kong.