Hong Kong

Revisiting one of the biggest Chinatowns on earth was more like coming to a familiar neighborhood. After all, my dear adopted hometown of Flushing in New York is heavily populated with Chinese immigrants. There are also tall buildings aplenty in Hong Kong island as there are in the island of Manhattan. But what's more apparent especially in Tsim Sha Tsui district is that unmistakable energy and madness of Chinese businesses along its many narrow streets: thrift shops, restaurants, bakeries, beauty saloons, electronic stores, real state offices, and banks. I feel like I was back in Main Street, Flushing, although this one is bigger and rowdier.

Looking up dazed among the concrete canyons - probably from jet lag or ignorance of deciphering Chinese characters - I remain impressed with the transformation of Hong Kong from being a backwater of British colonialism in the 1950's to being one of the world's financial centers today. Since being given back to China in 1999 and thereby designated as a Special Administrative Region, Hong Kong continues to prosper as more businesses are being set up. Even kids have something to nag parents about: Hong Kong Disneyland is almost complete.

I wanted so much to go up Victoria Peak today but the weather was threatening and the sky was gray. I felt the mist would obscure the view again just like the first time I went up there. If I could not even see the peak, then there's certainly nothing from up there to see below.

Today's visit to Hong Kong is the shortest I have made in any city anywhere in the world. If not for the Airport Express, I wouldn't have ventured out of Chek Lap Kok. The trip to Kowloon station from the airport and back was quick and efficient, costing me 90 Hong Kong dollars
for same-day return ticket. They even have buses that ferry arriving passengers for free to various hotels around the city. Airport-bound passengers laden with luggage also have the option of checking-in right at the train station's airline counters - how convenient indeed!

During the two hours I spent hanging around Tsim Sha Tsui, I managed to do a bit of walking
after being on the plane from Los Angeles for almost 13 hours. And of course, two hours is more than enough for me to snag souvenir magnets and a bagful of Giordano shirts.

Meanwhile, Victoria Peak will have to wait. Next time.

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