22.06.2010 - 21.07.2010 33 °C
They say the world’s top five ‘Global Cities’ are New York, London, Pairs, Tokyo and Hong Kong. This statement is obviously controversial and I’m sure will get anyone’s back up if their favourite city (or Nations Capital) is not included above or within these top 30 global ratings (see Wikipedia). Edinburgh for example does not even make the top 30 but in my view is one of the world’s most inspirationally mystical cities due to the history, culture and architecture. It is also considered as one of the most picturesque cities in Europe, and has been voted by backpackers’ as their favourite European destination, so why doesn’t it make the list? Well, Edinburgh like many other great cities we have discussed in this blog such as Brisbane, George Town, Glasgow, Hanoi, Kota Kinabalu and Melbourne lack the political, economic and infrastructural edge that is required to qualify to the global-city superpower league. Having spent the past five days immersed in the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong I can confidentially say that I have visited a true superpower city.
Probably the biggest impression that will stay with me about Hong Kong is its 24 hour city vibe. You can literally do anything at any time of the day. Our final day was a busy one and an example of why Hong Kong operates on this 24/7 policy. During the day we decided to head to Lantau Island by train which is Hong Kong’s largest island. Here there are plentiful tourist activities such as Hong Kong Disneyland, beautiful beaches and a Giant Buddha. Wait a second I hear you say, ‘Beautiful beaches when there is a population of 7 million in a land space half the size of London, I don’t believe it!’...well it’s true. Hong Kong has some great beaches and they are all within a 1 hour train ride from the Central business district. This is something the other ‘Global Cities’ can certainly not compete with. So we decided to check out Cheung Sha beach which is located in Southern Lantau and we literally had the place to ourselves on a sleepy Tuesday afternoon. We then headed back to Tung Chung which is one of the MTR stations and took the cable car up to see the world’s biggest Giant Buddha. At the backdrop of the Giant Buddha you have sweeping views of Lantau Island and you literally feel that you are in a mystical Chinese mountain range with not a skyscraper in sight. I then realised that anything is possible in Hong Kong and it will never be more than an hour away whether it be mountaineering, sailing, surfing, shopping, gambling, eating or partying. Incidentally, if you tried, you could potentially do all of these activities all within the one day.
In the evening we then met with Jules and Winnie for a final meal. This time they decided to take us for an all you can eat and drink Korean BBQ for under £10. This is where you can select and cook your own food. Again being with Jules, this meant that I felt compelled to try certain meats such as pig cheek and various types of indistinguishable shell-fish and seafood. Even though it was 11pm on a sleepy Tuesday evening, we decided to walk around Causeway Bay to discover a bustling district of shops, bars and restaurants which were just packed. To put it in perspective, it was so busy we were unable to sit down in an ice-cream shop as there were no available tables. This then made me think how on earth anyone in the working world manages to get any sleep here as there is just so much to do. We then said our goodbyes to Jules and Winnie with Paula and I taking a taxi back to our hotel. On our way back to our hotel I gazed out the cab window looking at the central district buildings such as the architecturally immense HSBC Main Building designed by Sir Norman Foster and the International Finance Centre (IFC) building, or otherwise known as the hair clipper, which both grace Hong Kong’s skyline. I then realised as we sadly headed back to the hotel as our Asian trip was drawing to a close, that Hong Kong has been one of the most memorable moments of my travel career and we had experienced in my view, what the world’s ‘Global City’ is really all about.
Hong Kong, China