I went to Hong Kong 2 months ago and I’ve only written one or two posts about it – you may wonder why? Well, I wasn’t really that impressed with Hong Kong as a vacation spot… you may think this is blasphemous, but after living in an Asian country for almost a year I am a bit of a snob when it comes to what I think is unique and unlike my western home in the US. I would love to live in Hong Kong, but as far as a vacation spot for an expat who has been living in Asia for several months: I’d skip it. If you are a westerner who is nervous about visiting Asia but definitely want to try it out, Hong Kong is the city for you! I fondly call Hong Kong ‘Asia with training wheels.’
Harbor with famous boat attraction
In Hong Kong, most people spoke English. This was amazing to me! Having lived in Japan where most people won’t speak English (not can’t, but won’t – they are embarrassed about their ability) I was excited to be able to talk to almost all the people I met! All signs were in both Cantonese and English. It was great! The city was easy to navigate because of all the English!
Hong Kong is a really big city. There are tons of skyscrapers everywhere – this is common for Asia. But one thing it was missing was an abundance of temples. I LOVE the religious and cultural influence that is everywhere in Japan and I was hoping for the same in Hong Kong – but I was sadly disappointed. Of course there was the Big Buddha, but it seemed a bit cheesy with it’s Subway restaurant at the base.
Nan Lian Garden
Shopping and food were plentiful in Hong Kong. There were stores and restaurants from around the world. This was awesome given how homogeneous Japan is – but it didn’t give me a true feeling of what Hong Kong really was. It just seemed like every other big city in the world.
Forever 21 in Causeway Bay – photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Don’t get me wrong – Hong Kong was a great place to visit – I enjoyed myself. But I probably won’t go back as a tourist. I really, really, really loved its proximity and access to the rest of south east Asia. I also loved how it was western but just Asian enough to remind me that I was still in the east. I would definitely love to live there – but as far as going on vacation – maybe not. This trip to Hong Kong further confirmed that I’m just not a big city traveler – I haven’t been since I moved to the Baltimore/DC area. Since I live in such a big metropolis in the US, I prefer to vacation in places that are naturally beautiful and culturally diverse! (see any of my California posts for beauty and Kyoto or Spain posts for culture) There was a lot of cool stuff to see in Hong Kong – but much of it just felt too touristy (like the night lights show over the harbor, see the pic below). So – If it’s your first time to Asia and you’re nervous – go to Hong Kong; but if you are looking for a bit of an adventure – head to a different part of Asia and tell me all about it!