Hong Kong is such a vertical place. High-rises sprout into the sky, straight and narrow, cutting into the skyline. Towers sit shoulder to shoulder and at street level it's impossible to discern what's what. It's a city of 7 million people and is one of the most densely populated places in the world, which is obvious anywhere you walk.
This density gives the territory an incredible variety of things to do in such a small area. You can be standing amongst the tallest buildings in the world and with a 30 minute ferry ride and a short walk away, you're on a decent beach on an undeveloped island.
Winter vacation in Hong Kong was the best idea I've had in a long time. The weather was perfect. Staying between 7º and 25º C (45º and 77º F). Best of all, it's such an immensely interesting place.
Hong Kong is without a doubt the most international place I've been to within Asia. Sure there's the "East meets West" you'd expect from a former British colony, with places named after Queens and English breakfast. But there's actually quite a lot of culture and cuisine from the rest of Asia within Hong Kong.
Go into any grocery store and you will see plenty imported items from Korea and Japan. Philippine and Indonesian "domestic helpers" set up picnics all over the city on their days off. I saw a waitress at a snack stand take orders in Mandarin, Cantonese, English and Tagalog in a matter of seconds.
More interesting is how much I saw interaction between cultures. Sure, most cultures tend to stick to themselves as they do anywhere else, older British men drink in huddles in pubs, Middle Easterners chit-chat at the Chungking Mansions and I don't think I saw a single non-Cantonese person in many parts of Kowloon. However, walking down the streets of Central, I saw an Indian man laughing with an Indonesian woman behind the counter of a pizza joint, a Chinese business woman power-walking with a Frenchmen, Mainland Chinese at a Cantonese birthday party and an Italian restaurant manager giving a drink order to a Vietnamese waitress. People across cultures and languages communicating is a normal and constant occurrence. Other cities within Asia are certainly international places, but you do not see this level of interaction in Seoul, Tokyo or Shanghai.
It's political status, culture, history, language, style, architecture and night life are all incredibly unique to Hong Kong. In the coming weeks, I'll be doing some posts going into what I found during my week in the "Fragrant Harbour."