Wow. What a trip.
Hong Kong is unbelievable. I can't even describe it - every district had its own personality. My hotel was in Sheung Wan, which was a mix of old and new Hong Kong... new buildings going up, but still salt-of-the-earth people and businesses. Headed south and found myself climbing up toward Victoria Peak, which rises nearly a quarter mile above sea level and offers amazing views of Hong Kong. Just a few blocks to the east is the Central District, which is a huge financial center of the world. It seemed like most of the non-locals congregated in Central in the evenings, with plenty of high-ticket shopping and dining options. Central is also home to SoHo and Lan Kwai Fung, with even more dining and shopping and nightlife.
Kept heading east and ended up in Causeway Bay, another shopping and touring destination - it even has its own Times Square with a 9-story mall!
Then I headed across the bay into Kowloon... what a wild ride. I never knew when I was going to turn a corner and end up in the middle of an enormous street market filled with people, bicycles, honking taxis, and vendors hawking their goods. Kowloon is also home to Mong Kok, an unbelievably packed market with tiny pop-up shops as far as you can see, selling clothes, jewelry, shoes, electronics, and pretty much anything else you could need.
In the middle of all the craziness is the Kowloon Walled City, which offered a quiet break from the city (though it wasn't always so peaceful).
Macau, another Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China, is a quick high-speed boat ride away. With its strong Portuguese influence, Macau has a completely different vibe. I was expecting to spend most of my day in Macau lost on the Cotai casino strip, but instead found myself wandering the streets in the northern part of the region, appreciating its slower pace and many historical sites. I walked up to the top of Mount Fortress, which offered stunning views of the city in all directions.
Around dusk, I headed down to the Cotai strip and found myself at the Venetian. Wow. Wow. Wow. I've not been to the Venetian in Las Vegas, but I understand this is a near replica of Las Vegas', complete with gondolas and the faux sky.
Finally, I took the opportunity to visit Lantau Island, home of the Tian Tan Buddha, or the "Big Buddha," which rises some 112 feet from the top of Lantau Peak (which is already over 3000' elevation). What a site to behold - it's about a 20 minute cable car ride up the mountain, then about a 10 minute walk to the base of the steps. Due to the elevation, it was pretty cloudy conditions, but every once in a while a break in the cloud would blow past and I could see all the way to the top of the statue. There's also a beautiful temple/monastery near the statue, with incense and gold at every turn.
An adventure, for sure!
PS - a first for me - I wrote this post AND edited the photos while on the plane ride home. Just before getting on my plane, I downloaded the "Enlight" photo editing app onto my phone (I think it's the first mobile editing app I've bought). After just a few hours of use, I'm really impressed. It combines my favorite things from all the other apps I've used, and adds a few new features. If you do any mobile editing, definitely check out Enlight.
If you'd like to purchase prints of any of these photographs, they will be available at gallery.scotthendersonphotos.com.