Hong Kong Diaries#Shutterbug Priyanca Vaishnav • September 23, 2015
One of the first things that hit you when you land in Hong Kong is the stark three-way contradiction of lush green hills, the calm waters of the harbour, and the natural industrial elements (hi-tension wires, tall sky-scrapers, cranes). This marriage of the natural and the man-made is prevalent across the city.
While like any other metropolitan, HKG too rides on development, you notice an immediate affinity of the city for growth that is skywards as opposed to expanding horizontally.
I was there for the PRWeek Asia Awards (hoping to jump the guns and win the first award of my career overseas!) with the team at my erstwhile company.
The City at a Glace
Our first stop was The Peak. The two things climbing right to the top give you are Bubba Gump (a Forrest Gump themed chain restaurant with outstanding shrimp and cocktails!) and a breath-taking view of the skyline.
So the septet enthusiastically scaled the tower, took enough selfies, and descended back a level below to devour copious amounts of Jambalaya, Georgia Peach Iced Tea (that comes in a mason jar wine glass you can run with!), Hand shaken Margharitas (again, in a glass you could call your own) and Coronaritas (Margharita topped with a bottle of Corona, for the uninitiated – as I was :P).
We spent some part of the late night post the conclave at the Temple street night market which was a bit of disappointment except for a couple of bizarre finds…
Theme Parks Galore
We had a free day to ourselves that we weren’t sure how best to spend. Someone in the troupe suggested Ocean Park – and I thought, who goes to theme parks to see wild animals? Little did I know these were ginormous grounds spilling across generous acres on two sides of a hill. We began with some animal enclosures, but a colleague recued me from my slow death, with a map of the five belly-lurching gravity-defying roller-coasters.
The day of the awards presented us with even more time. As all of our first international competition, the butterflies were unforgiving. We headed to the happiness franchise– Disneyland – for the antidote.
Music from all your favourite childhood Disney movies across the grounds, fills you with the immediate feeling of elation. In a few hours, though, this feeling would be replaced by sheer annoyance.
The tonnes of kids dressed in fairytale attire never fail to evoke the ‘aww’s and ‘so-cute’s.
The one experience I will cherish there – and just could not have captured on camera was the Philharmagic – a music symphony from Mickey Mouse in 4D. The experience comes alive when you can smell the pie and feel droplets on your face when the screen shows water splashing!
From boisterous screaming and childhood nostalgia, to the bow-tie motions of a cocktail party at the JW Marriott- winning three of the six nominations, including my function at Viacom18 made the day and trip doubly eventful. The day’s shenanigans almost seemed like preparation for the grand finale.
The thing that can give you a humongous inferiority complex is the fitness levels of the people. I haven’t seen ‘fat’ people in Hong Kong.
But when you’re part of a mini entourage that thrives on new culinary experiences, I was in for a new feast every day of my trip! From street favourites like snake soup, beef soup and noodles, an unimaginable variety of grilled meats, to the most delectable Peking duck and of course – a Thai dessert I’ve always wanted to try – the Coconut Rice with Ripe Mango – my palette was subjected to some serious experiments from the city’s culinary labs.
Then again, the assault of oriental spices– especially their version of the hot red chilli sauce can make you crave for something familiar. The fairly-touristy Times Square offers restaurants such as Eat Me where one found good old pepperoni pizzas and homely zebra cakes.
Sunny Side Up
If you’re travelling from good old Bombay, you won’t miss the sun in June. In fact, it’s a few times more sultry and sunny. So if you’re ever heading for the city of traditions, industrial revolution and shopping unlimited make sure you’ve got your glares on and sunscreens slathered!
On one of my several metro rail commutes, I was reading Sartre’s Love Letter to Simone de Beauvoir. One line captured my admiration for Hong Kong, and travel at large, rather succinctly – ‘You are mine, and things are mine, and my love alters the things around me and the things around me alter my love for you.‘