First Impressions

The train was storming out of a dark tunnel... the sudden light caught the girl by surprise...

The weather wasn't great, with one day constant rain of the drizzling kind, other days just overcast and mist, and only one day of sun. But in the end I don't think it mattered much photo wise, cause every type of weather simply creates its own atmosphere.

Hong Kong seemed to me the perfect mix of some of the other Asian cities I visited.

It has the convenience of Singapore - without the fear of dirt - and the liveliness of Shanghai - without the overwhelming amount of people.

Not to say Hong Kong is dirty mind you.

The streets are clean, there's the usual Asian huge fines on littering - which seem to have the desired effect - but there's also dank back alleys, blackened dirty buildings, overall messy streets, vibrant night markets, seedy areas - all stuff you would expect in a big city, but which you won't find that easily in strictly regulated Singapore.

People overall seemed quite relaxed, less stressed than in Singapore and less rude than in Shanghai, which might have something to do with the amount of people in Shanghai.

It also lacks the almost megalomaniac building style of Shanghai and doesn't seem to have the urge to compete in 'who's got the biggest'. There are sky scrapers, but they seem modest in comparison. Then again, I don't know much about architecture, perhaps Hong Kong is limited by its soil and simply unable to build the true giants.

The building style itself seemed also very specific, especially the older buildings. They are high, but also quite slim.

Navigating the city is easy, although you can get stuck on the regular sidewalks, which in some areas simply end at a highway with no possibility to continue. You then have to divert to the walking bridges and the overhead passages.

It has all the modern day comforts, without giving up on the traditional.

It's also quite beautiful, surrounded by mountains, partly build on mountains, lots of green, water, city parks and an abundance of public transport options when tired of walking.

Must admit though that Singapore has the best taxis. In Hong Kong I got the feeling you have to be careful and know your prices before you get into a cab as to not get cheated.

Tip: when friendly asked if you visited before (no matter which city) be on guard if there's money involved. The question might be genuine, but sometimes its main purpose is to figure out if you can be cheated without a verbal fight.

Many expats though, and too many (probably a mix of expats and tourists) of them hanging around in pubs consuming too much beer: one of the legacies of the Brits I suppose, or perhaps a not so good choice of hotel, smack in the middle of Wan Chai, which turned out to be the night club area with drunks already (or still?) walking the streets at 10 in the morning.

Then again, less pushy sales people compared to Shanghai - my sleeve was pulled only once, where in Shanghai they sometimes run after you, and the prostitutes do give up after one polite 'no thank you'.

I remember crossing a busy street to get rid of one particularly persistent sales person in Shanghai and he simply crossed the street with me, pulling my arm during the crossing. Only after increasingly angrier 'no's' from my side he let go. I then quickly learned how to say 'no' in Shanghainese and that worked quite well, since you then have the element of surprise and can escape, whilst they are left behind puzzled, wondering if you can actually speak Chinese.

All that convenience of Hong Kong does come with a price. It can easily compete with any West European country when it comes to prices of food in restaurants or hotel rooms. So far it's been the most expensive Asian city I visited.

Leica M9 with Leica Summilux 50mm f/1.4

Hong Kong - 20 March 2011