Hong Kong is a “special administrative region” of China, with its own government and currency. It consists of Hong Kong Island, plus Kowloon and the so-called New Territories on the mainland. The island and mainland are linked by the iconic Star Ferry boats, which cross one of the world’s most spectacular harbors in about five minutes. Fueled by recent economic growth in China, today’s Hong Kong is thrilling and relentless.
Those familiar with the city may wish to make a day trip to Lantau Island to visit the Po Lin Monastery. There, the bronze Tian Tan Buddha stands 112 feet tall. Its base is a model of the Altar of Heaven in Beijing, and visitors have to climb 268 steps to reach the statue. The monastery can be accessed via the spectacular Ngong Ping 360 gondola cable car.
Hong Kong is losing much of its past. However, there are still places to savor this vanishing world. Go on a walking tour through Western District, one of the most atmospheric parts of the city. There the streets are dedicated to sellers of specific products: Queen’s Road West has herbal remedies and temple goods; Bonham Road is dried seafood; and Man Wa Lane sells beautifully carved “chops” in a variety of materials.
A short walk from The Upper House, Hong Kong Park contains a fascinating small museum. The Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware is dedicated to the history of teaware, with the core of its impressive holdings coming from a single donor, Dr. Lo Kwee-Seong. Steps away, the newer K.S. Lo Gallery wing houses an extraordinary collection of Chinese name seals, or “chops,” also donated by a foundation established by Dr. Lo Kwee-Seong.
The magnificent 4,518-foot Tsing Ma Bridge is a sightseeing highlight of Hong Kong. Opened in 1997, it carries both rail and vehicle traffic and is one of the longest suspension bridges in the world. From a height of 676 feet, the bridge offers a series of spellbinding views of the Pearl River Delta, flecked with hundreds of huge container ships.