Hong Kong was a good transition between the rest of Southeast Asia and New York. With a diverse population, many familiar stores, and westernized prices, Hong Kong felt like a cross between Madison Avenue and Chinatown.
The efficient transportation system makes Hong Kong a very easy place to spend a pleasant weekend. In fact, even Jed had to admit that Hong Kong’s public transit system was better than New York’s in many ways. With an integrated system of subways, buses, ferries, and street cars, the transit system is a model. Where New York has tried (though largely failed) to use its maritime assets (it was originally a harbor city for goodness sake), Hong Kong has succeeded; there are cheap, regular ferries that go all over the city.
Hong Kong (as well as Bangkok) has engineered a very efficient way of transferring between subway lines. Rather than walking up or down stairs and all over the station (as one does in New York), they have set it up so subway lines between which travelers regularly transfer are across the platform from each other. This certainly is not that difficult an idea to think of, but it makes life a lot easier for the average rider.
You have a close to perfection when you add a (very fast) direct train from the airport and the “Octopus Card”, a great stored value card that can be used on all public transport and many stores as well. While the logistical challenges are great, an Octopus card (we could call it the Hudson Card) would be great in NYC.
Hong Kong also has great food assets. Like Singapore, the unique merging of many cultures has led to very tasty buffet. Jed tried to eat as many meals a day as possible to take advantage of all the culinary treats (despite great efforts, six meals in a day was the most he managed to fit in). And after a trip of shunning Chinese food in favor of local food, Meg was finally able to enjoy Chinese food without feeling guilty.
Despite the fact that Hong Kong was shrouded in fog the entire time we were there (which is better than the sandstorm that had blown down from China a few weeks earlier), we still marveled at the fantastic scenic beauty of the place. The juxtaposition of green mountains towering over beautiful aqua water with skyscrapers sprouting in the foreground makes for a unique and fantastic visual fabric. However, it was the non-urban parts of Hong Kong that we found most invigorating. While the island of Hong Kong is the main urban center there are dozens of other smaller islands that make up the city. On Hong Kong island itself but also on the myriad of smaller surrounding islands, there is much untouched nature and many small towns and fishing villages. For example, we were able to take a 30 minute ferry ride and spend a few hours hiking around mountains and through small villages.
And so with a long weekend in Hong Kong, our epic around-the-world honeymoon came to an anticlimactic end. Stayed tuned for the our awards for the best, the worst, and in betweens of the trip.