Stepping outside of Hong Kong Station and into the city for the first time, I could barely see the sky. Iconic skyscrapers, high-rise apartments, elevated pedestrian walkways, busy streets with taxis, double-decker busses and street cars were all I could see. Central Hong Kong feels like a dense metropolis unlike any other. Everything is jammed so close together and then stacked one top of one another.
I met a few locals that mentioned how much New York City reminded them of Hong Kong. At first I disagreed, but the more time I spend there, the more I kind of agree. In many ways, it feels like someone took Manhattan, added some mountains, got rid of the older stone and concrete skyscrapers, replaced those with glass monoliths and then converted the island into one giant Chinatown. Most Chinese expatriates living abroad are form the same region of China and speak the same language as Hong Kong, which may be way it carries much of the same vibe as a Chinatown.
As with anything in Hong Kong, there is so much variety to be seen. You'll have an incredibly new and modern buildings with high-end audio equipment boutiques on the first floor situated next to dilapidated apartment buildings that seem as though they will crumble from the slightest breeze.
Hong Kong is constantly referred to as having the best skyline in the world. A product of having so many people scrunched together on such a small island without anywhere else to go but up. Not only are there such large buildings squished together, but many of the apartments are notoriously small, with families living in a single room smaller than most children's bedrooms in the western world. On top of the that, the price of rent is out of this world ridiculous, ranked by Forbes as having the most expensive real estate in the world.
Hong Kong isn't quite a meeting point of modern and traditional like Tokyo or Beijing. There isn't much in the way of traditional Chinese culture to be seen. There are temples, some great ones at that, but the ones I visited often don't quite feel right. Feeling manufactured and placed to attract attention rather than spirituality.
These apartment high-rises are a typical sight throughout the territory. They can be seen as utilitarian blights on the environment, but I quite like them. They are almost like colorful human hives. With fantastic, intricate shapes and details.
If there is one take away from my trip to Hong Kong, it's that it has spectacularly amazing and unique buildings. I can see these buildings and only think about this so-called "Fragrant Harbour."