China: Amazing Hong Kong
Former British Crown citizen of Hong Kong became a kind of Manhattan of Asia.
Hong Kong is an amazing city, and although in 1997 the reassignment to China became history, people still fear serious changes. They believe that China will greatly influence Hong Kong’s politics, economy and domestic lifestyle, because for a long time it has been and remains the center of big business – the “navel” of land in the capitalist world.
If you want to know more about the history of Hong Kong, visit the History Museum. When the British first noticed Victoria Peak in 1657, Hong Kong was a deserted place. Then it all started with trade: the British exported tea, silk and porcelain in exchange for silver and opium. After a hundred years, the Great Chinese Empire was on the brink of disaster due to attachment to opium. Two opium wars died out, of which the British fleet emerged victorious. In 1841, the island of Hong Kong became English. Only a midday shot reminds of those times. Jardine Mateson and Company, the largest company of all time, decided to give fireworks at noon in honor of their ships. To the delight of tourists, this tradition has survived to this day.
Another relic of the past is horse racing. Hong Kong residents are extremely gamblers. Not one city in the world can boast such high rates. The excitement is happening at all hippodromes, be it old in the Happy Valley or modern Sha Tin in the New Territories. In the busiest days, only in Sha Tin up to 80 thousand dollars are played out. 70 thousand viewers watch, win and suffer if they lose.
Ancient China has taken root in the bustling modern Hong Kong, and it’s not just about religion. Almost all locals who care about their own health prefer to be treated according to ancient recipes. This is often confusing for tourists. Any ingredients are used. For example, from lung diseases you will be offered monkey gallstone, and from a tickle in the throat – crickets. But the most popular means are magical items with a seal of otherworldly powers, sold in countless stores.
Feng Shui is very respected in Hong Kong – this is considered the best way to earn money, and they love to earn money here, especially on tourists.
But Hong Kong residents do not always rely only on luck, they try to attract it. In the countless temples of the city, they pray for the blessing of Joseph. “Jos” in Cantonese means “fate”, but it still protects life, love … almost everything. The local religion is a mixture of Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism. They do not make much difference. The Most Popular Temple of Ten Thousand Buddhas is located next to the stadium. To get there you have to overcome a flight of stairs from 400 steps, but still a waste of energy justifies itself. The main temple houses 13,000 golden Buddha statues. They say that two similar ones cannot be found here. There is no silence habitual for us, interrupted by voices only in prayer time. Here, believers use bamboo sticks, and if one of them falls, a person goes to the forecaster for explanations. The strong smell of incense envelops you at the entrance to the temple – it burns many spirals on the ceiling, this lasts for weeks, and it is believed that smoke lifts believers to the gods. In Hong Kong, religious activities are also a pleasant pastime for all family members.
Victoria Harbor is one of the largest natural harbors in the world, here you can enjoy the soft breezes from the South China Sea. There are practically no historical junks, although there are still locals who live in river houses.
You will not find sharks in Victoria Harbor, but you will get unforgettable pleasure from a walk on the white-green double-deck ferries that run along the coast. Ferries have been operating here since the 19th century. A ticket costs only a couple of cents, but this does not plead with its dignity. This nice ferry takes you to Kowloon, where you can not only buy anything, but also see a lot of interesting things. It offers amazing panoramic views of the harbor and city, for example, the Cultural Center and the Museum of Arts. From the bridge in the harbor, you can enjoy views of the peak and skyscrapers of Hong Kong, while completely free. Toward evening, residents gather here waiting for the sunset.
The Mongkok district is an area for amateur naturalists. Although there are practically no parks here, because the area has the highest population density, local residents try to preserve a piece of nature at home – they keep songbirds. At the Bird Market, they buy gifts for their favorites, such as fresh bamboo shoots or succulent grasshoppers.
If you are going to Hong Kong at the beginning of the year, you will have the opportunity to take part in the celebration of the Chinese New Year, which is celebrated from late January to mid February. At this time, the central street of the city turns into a multi-colored river. Tourists are offered to memorize a traditional greeting – it is very simple “Gong hey fatt choy!”, I.e. “Happy New Year, Hong Kong!”