Even though I wasn’t too keen on visiting Hong Kong, you can’t put it on me for not trying. I’ve already booked two tickets to this world city northwest of the Philippines twice before in previous years, but was thwarted by circumstances each time. I gave up afterwards, thinking it really wasn’t worth it. But somehow, this year, my feet, or more precisely, the cruise ship I was on, docked right in the middle on two of its main island, right in the center of where it’s all happening.
|FIRST GLIMPSE OF HONG KONG|
At exactly twelve noon, Star Cruises’ Superstar Virgo, which cruised from Guangzhou to Hong Kong, docked at Victoria Harbour along the bustling Tsim Sha Tsui area. From my room, I can already see towering buildings filling the view of my personal balcony. I was rarin’ to disembark and see what the fuss was about, but lunch called first.
After downing a bottle of Blue Girl and a Guinness Stout (which, surprisingly, I liked), I was finally ready for Hong Kong.
|NOW, WHERE TO GO?|
We were given four hours to roam freely about. Most took this for shopping time, they have crazy sales on the island, they gushed; but me, I just wanted to walk about, see the once British colony on foot. I set my sights on Bruce Lee’s iconic sculpture along the length of Victoria Harbour and decided to wing it from there.
|STRIKING A POSE AT VICTORIA HARBOUR|
With a couple of newfound friends as company, we sauntered along the promenade fronting the harbor, taking in the sights of skyscrapers vying for the heavens against the not-so-distant mountains beyond. The sprawl of buildings, with ships crisscrossing the waters in front of it, looked beautiful even under grey weather.
|HONG KONG SPACE MUSEUM’S INTERESTING COLLONADE|
This was quite unexpected.
This was exactly the reason why I was avoiding Hong Kong. I thought then that it was all about buildings, like a huge business district with nary a character. But that same reason had me enthralled at that moment. I knew right then that I was quickly warming up to this place.
|TSIM SHA TSUI CLOCK TOWER|
From the regal Tsim Sha Tsui Clock Tower, the only remnant of a railway station that once ply the Kowloon-Canton (now Guangzhou) route during the early 1900’s, we headed towards the Avenue of Stars where sculptures and handprint plaques (including Wong Kar Wai’s and Bruce Lee’s famous statue) of the who’s who of Hong Kong cinema is located.
|UNIQUE RESTING SPOT ALONG THE SPACE MUSEUM|
We were, however, met with defeat as we found that it was actually closed for renovation since August and wouldn’t open to the public again until the end of 2018. That sucks. But well, we have to move on. With no real itinerary on hand, our feet led us to Nathan Road, once known as the Golden Mile (even though it is more than two miles long).
|DOUBLE DECKER BUS x CHUNGKING MANSION|
Nathan Road can probably be compared to Singapore’s Orchard Road. It does house a lot of commercial establishments and shops, although more high-end ones can be found on the nearby Canton Road. But its wide avenue seems to be one of the busiest, if not the busiest, this side of Hong Kong
|WONG KAR WAI’S FAMOUS / INFAMOUS CHUNGKING MANSION|
And without even knowing it, we stumbled upon the Chungking Mansion. Now, my two friends were totally unaware why I was going bonkers in accidentally finding this particular building because if you really look at it, it doesn’t even look remotely interesting even with its plethora of ads plastered on its walls and shops lining its front. I told them this was where Wong Kar Wai filmed his now legendary movie, Chungking Express. That gave me two blank stares from my companions.
I dragged them inside, wanting to see the place with my own two eyes and walk along its dingy hallways. I was surprised to find its ground floor area replete, not with Chinese hawker stalls, but Indian food finds!
|OLD BUILDINGS ALONG NATHAN ROAD’S SIDESTREETS|
Still on a high, we escaped from the double-decker buses of the main road and ducked on one of the sidestreets connecting Nathan Road to get a more local feel of the place. From glistening steel and glass buildings, the architecture quickly changed to a more dated seventies-like form. The contrast between the clean and cold modernity of the now and the much warmer character of the old was making my head spin.
And it gets even more crazy as we went further in. Shops became smaller and much more personal. The amount of signboards advertising I-don’t-know-what (well, they’re in Chinese) were staggering. It felt very Blade Runner-esque, only the streets are immaculately clean and people are much more disciplined. It was almost like being in Tokyo some decades before it turned into the megacity that it is now. Not that I’ve seen that Tokyo, but my imagination said so, and you don’t argue with your imagination.
|WHIP OUT YOUR PHONES, SUNSET ALERT ALONG VICTORIA HARBOUR|
Dodging hordes of people—both local and tourists—we somehow managed to circle back to where we originally came from. The sun was dramatically making its way down in between the skyscrapers of Hong Kong Island as we looped back. We solemnly paid our respects to its beauty. We paused; me, taking my Instagram photos, and my buddies, taking their selfies, before boarding the Superstar Virgo once more.
Even with only four hours in, Hong Kong surprised me. I cannot wait to be back in a week’s time for a much more thorough exploration of its nooks and crannies. Well… that’s granting my constant jinx in entering Hong Kong would break and my ticket wouldn’t get cancelled for the third time.
Star Cruises Philippines
Address: 100 Andrews Avenue,
Newport City, Pasay City, Metro Manila
Contact Number: (02) 836-6830
Facebook: Click Here
Book a Cruise Online: Click Here
* CRUISE WAS SPONSORED BY STAR CRUISES PH