How not to visit Hong Kong: Don’t enter the city from the re-purposed airport, now a cruise terminal. Its clean, organised, friendly atmosphere will take the worry away, and you will feel relaxed like travelers should never feel. You will enter this city, a new one to you, and feel you have stepped into the arena of a welcoming travel agent who has just the right cab waiting to navigate the busy streets and take you with confidence any where you like.
Don’t sit back in that cab, take a long sigh, and let the sights around envelope you as the buildings and people and entire cityscape give you a thorough introduction to everything you want to see.
Don’t check into a high-rise hotel where there is a view onto the city in any direction. Don’t become interested in the roof-top life of the people living in the middle of this crowded city. It is here people seek the quiet, tend their pets, raise some greenery, exercise, hang their wash. You may fall in love with that city-top lifestyle; private, except for a glimpse or two from you in the tall hotel.
Don’t venture out from that hotel and immediately get lost on your way to the tourist mall, turning left instead of right, perhaps, so that you find yourself in that fabulous food court, used not by the tourists, but by the people who work in the tourist industry. There, you can breathe in the aroma of the pungent herb you can’t identify. You can see the busy lunch breaks unfold, the workers becoming customers, resting for a moment, joining already full tables. They choose today’s meal not from slick mall-front brand names, but from one indistinguishable stall or the next, choosing by scent or history or this day’s personal taste.
Don’t then take a stroll on the streets that lasts hours. There is so much to see, and you can walk as long and as far as you like. After your walk, don’t rest on the ferry, then walk again along the harbor on the facing shore, realizing that you could do this every day and see something different.
Don’t offer a candy from the pack you just bought to a young man who is sitting in the restaurant booth next to you. He tells you the history of that candy. It is really an herbal remedy for sore throats, and he has been using them since he was a little boy. You couldn’t read anything on the pack when you bought it, and so relied on the mint leaf picture. He unwraps the mystery for you in English, and says ‘Chiao’ when he leaves.
Don’t stop when the schoolgirls in matching uniforms run up to you and ask you to answer a ‘few questions’ from a printed paper attached to their clipboard. They really will be just a few, and you will want the conversation to continue when they are finished, give their thanks and run off to their next conquest.
Don’t do any of these things, and you will save yourself the expense of a future return trip. I wasn’t so lucky. I did all this, and will have to bear that expense someday. One visit to Hong Kong is simply not enough. Drat.