Globe-trotting: Hong Kong

Sam Brewster has set out on a globe-trotting journey this summer, with exotic destinations throughout Asia. He files this first travel log from Hong Kong, China. Additional photography by Rob Harrison.


Hong Kong through an illustrator's eyes. Sam Brewster sums up this mighty city.

Smoothly gliding along the coastal roads of Hong Kong on our way to Kowloon, I cannot help but to feel insurmountable awe as I scour the landscape. Dwarfed under the mountainous islands in a grey dusk smog, we are beginning our journey.

The towering apartment blocks seem to have been planted into the hillsides like gargantuan white Lego blocks; tug boats litter the bay like lilos carrying fairy lights, while an iron forest of cranes perch on the concrete buttresses.

Kowloon, the mainland north of Hong Kong island, is to be the base of our visit. Divided by Nathan Street, it is home to many bars, shops and attractions.

Getting off the bus we are instantly bombarded with offers of tailored suits, cheap accommodation and various dubious substances, our travel packs and pasty skin no doubt betraying our attempts to blend in.

The hostel is located on the 14th floor of a complex on Nathan Street, cramped but cool with a friendly Indian staff. I can’t complain about the accommodation.

A short walk from the hostel on Hai Phong Street is Kowloon Park. Chinese Bayan trees are scattered throughout the place, there is a swimming pool, running track and various tropical bid enclosures.

Whilst sitting for a breakfast of some unusual looking pastries and the creamiest coffee in China, we watch terrapins bask on the rocks in one of the many water features. Despite the no-smoking policies enforced in many of Hong Kong’s public areas, we manage to get a cigarette in before we go swimming.

The next day we head over to Hong Kong island, via the unusually cheap ferry, with plans to scale Victoria Peak. Despite the surreal Disneyland facade of the Peak Tram station, the journey up the mountain is a great experience.

The track takes a climb up what must be at least a 35 degree slope through rock, trees and local housing, offering spectacular views. Praying that the cable holds, the ride only lasts 5 minutes and delivers us to the viewing area. The westernised plaza that greets us is an any-place tourist trap, but is sufficient for its purpose.

That evening we headed down Kimberly street to find out what the drinking scene was like. Beer ranged from £2.50 to £7, which lead to utilising the nearby 7-11 for cheaper cans.

Waking to a mild headache and merciful darkness the following afternoon, I rolled out of bed to continue adventuring around Kowloon Bay. Having spent most of the day wandering around aimlessly through the many bustling streets, we decided to head over to the Temple street night market.

The stalls were sparsely scattered down what must be the only pedestrianised street in Kowloon, but are decorated with a wonderfully eclectic variety of antiques, fake watches and novelty phones. I manage to pick up a Chairman Mao commemorative watch and leave mildly satisfied.

Now as I sit in an Internet cafe that charges extortionate fees, we’re looking to the horizon. We are trying to find the best way to Hanoi, our next stop. Whether it be by train, plane or automobile, I’m sure it will be worth talking about.

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