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      Volume 11 |Issue 31| August 03, 2012 |


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The city cannot seem to get enough of the signboards.

The City
that Never
Leaves You

Sarara Hasan

The bright colours of the streets bring out the vibrancy of the city.

When somebody asks me about a unique place that I know of, the first thing that pops into my head is Hong Kong. The drama, the charm, the fashion, and especially the food makes me fall head over heels for this wonderful city. The vivid and bright colours that emit from the city flood my eyes. With countless numbers of trendy stores and shops, it can make any girl fall in love. From high end fashion outlets such as Chanel, Prada and Luis Vuitton to local, small and exquisite boutiques and shops, Hong Kong has it all. The delicious smells of the exotic flavours of diverse cuisines continue to tempt the palate. Even though the city is very developed and modernised with towering skyscrapers, it has managed to keep its beautiful green and luscious mountains of its countryside to peek behind its buildings. Hong Kong is also home to one of the few Disney Lands of the world. Hong Kong isn't just known as Asia's world city for no reason.

Rushing and running - a typical Hong kong street.
The exquisite, diverse cuisine of Hong kong is one of its biggest attractions.

Hong Kong, located in the south-eastern coast of China has a total area of 1104 square kilometres, the territory comprises Hong Kong Island, Kowloon Peninsula, and the New Territories, which is also includes 262 outlying islands. The bustling city of Hong Kong was just a collection of fishing villages when claimed by Britain in 1842 following the First Opium War with China. This failed attempt by the Ching Dynasty to stop the British trading in opium led to Hong Kong being given up to Britain under the Treaty of Nanking that year. The Kowloon Peninsula was handed over in 1860 and a 99-year lease on the New Territories, comprising the area north of Kowloon up to the Shenzhen River plus 235 outlying islands, was granted in 1898. Under the unique principle of 'One Country, Two Systems', Hong Kong returned to Chinese sovereignty on 1 July 1997 as a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. This arrangement allows Hong Kong to enjoy a high degree of autonomy, retaining its capitalist system, independent judiciary and rule of law, free trade and freedom of speech. Hong Kong is a multicultural and secular city with a multiracial population living in harmony. The official languages of Hong Kong are Chinese and English. The problem is that, it's pretty hard to find a person who can give you directions if you get lost. They'll look at you like you're from another planet.

Hong Kong, as I've noticed, doesn't have many tourist attractions but among the few that are there is 'The Peak'. It is one of the popular attractions that had to be in my must-see list of Hong Kong. Unfortunately, due to a typhoon, I had to miss it. 'The Peak' offers spectacular views over the city, harbor and mountains beyond. There's a reason why The Peak is one of the most popular attractions in Hong Kong: It is absolutely incredible! Looking down from 'The Peak' you'll be amazed by the spectacular view of the surrounding city skyline, the world-famous Victoria Harbor and Kowloon, towering skyscrapers and peaceful green hillsides.

Victoria Harbour – one of Hong Kong's most sought after jewels.
Steamed, fried or roasted, seafood can be found on every street corner.

On our first day there, the first place we visited was Victoria Harbour. Victoria Harbour is another one of Hong Kong's assets, a jewel that people marvel at. People come from all over the world to see and admire it. My brother had a chance to take a photo with Jackie Chan's autographed tile on the walk of fame at the Avenue of Stars. A walk through the Avenue of Stars at Tsim Sha Sui Promenade for spectacular harbour views will make your day. Especially at night, when the magnificent 'Symphony Of Lights' takes place, where 40 of the skyscrapers seen from the harbour produce a stunning laser and light show.

The people seem to be constantly on the run. The city barely has any houses and instead, it has skinny, tall and towering apartments. Most of the people in Hong Kong live in tiny flats and they barely stay at home. There are practically millions of restaurants in the city. The restaurants are seen to be almost full during breakfast, lunch and dinner. One of the waiters of a local Chinese restaurant had told me that people barely eat at home because they're always in a rush.

No trip to Hong Kong would be complete without trying Dim Sum. These are delightful, mouth-watering popular Chinese snacks served in steaming bamboo baskets. Another delicacy to please your taste buds is the Peking duck, which is personally my favourite. It is a roasted, tender and succulent duck with a crispy skin layer served with sweet chilli sauce and it is absolutely delicious! If there is one food you must taste in Hong Kong, it's the seafood. For all you seafood lovers out there, Hong Kong will be your seafood heaven. Steamed, fried or roasted, you can have it any way that you want.

Hong Kong has a unique and colourful past. It has a flavour and atmosphere unlike any other city in the world. Beyond the gleaming high-rises, the glitsy shopping malls and the wealth of dining establishments, Hong Kong's streets and alleyways are always alive and buzzing with the cultural and artistic influences that dominated its past and created the city it is today. It is a city of diversity, where new and old meet at every turn. The unique blend of eastern and western influence, matched by its eye catching attractions and stunning countryside, has also made Hong Kong Asia's prime tourist destination. I was just awestruck by the number of malls, restaurants and food stalls it had. It's mostly a shopper's and a food lover's paradise. So if you plan a visit here, make sure you bring a fat wallet as well as an empty stomach with you. As well known humour writer Nuri Vittachi puts it, “You can leave Hong Kong, but it will never leave you.”

Photos: Sarara Hasan


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