I am completly razzle-dazzled when my friend takes me around Hong Kong for the first time. It’s not the endless streams of people and cars everywhere that overwhelms me, but the abaundance of so many kinds of food and beauty products – two of my favourite things that UK fefinitely lacks. As we walk along the streets, I am constantly gasping and excitedly shouting out, ‘Oh, look at that! Ooh! That looks delicious!’. Even McDonald’s seems so exciting, with their menu of matcha ice cream, pineapple parfait and banana pies.
The Asianness of the place instantly makes me feel I belong, which is strange because England has been my home for the last 17 years of my life. I was only 12 when I left Korea and I hardly know what it’s like to live in my mother country.
The ‘kawaii culture’ is deep. Even posh jewellery shops have cute cartoon characteres on their posters. For the first time in my adulthood, everyone around me is pretty much my height. Asian food is no longer restricted to bland dishes that are toned down to suit the Westerners’ palette, but chillies and peppers here mean business.
After a very satisfying dinner at a food court at the top of a shopping mall, we walk along the Nathan road and make our way to the Star Ferry piers. This passenger ferry service runs beween Kowloon and Hong Kong Islands, and has been rated first in the “Top 10 Most Exciting Ferry Rides” by the Society of Amercian Travel Writers. And it only cost 30 pence.
The pier is bustling just like any other parts of Hong Kong, but something about it feels different. There is a sense of an unexpected sense of community and momentary stillness to the constantly moving people. Buskers have gathered a crowd, tourists are taking photos of each other and people are no longer hastily walking from one place to another. The lowly lit sepia light softly holds everyone on the pier together, providing an urban sanctuary from Hong Kong’s neon jungle.
And beyond the waters is the technicolour dream of sky scrapers, illuminating Hong Kong above and below with its full bloom of colours.