Hot air hit me as soon as I took my first step out of the airport. I stretched my legs and marveled at how they still worked after a sixteen hour flight. It was Christmas, but it hardly felt like it- instead of white snow and freezing temperatures, there were the torrid air and the humidity of Hong Kong.
It had been five years since I had last been here, and only my second time back since I had left when I was five. I was surprised to still feel a sense of comfort at the sight of the crowded streets that somehow mixed the old-time charm of a small village with the hustle and noise of a big city. I felt immediately at home.
My family and I spent one whole day in the busy streets of Mong Kok. Colorful, neon signs proclaimed the city’s delicious restaurants and busy stores. The streets featured a dazzling array of colorful clothes that made my head spin as well as stores that sold everything and anything you would ever need. As I walked through the crowds of people, I felt elbows and knees knocking into me- the streets were so extremely crowded that it was almost hard to breathe. We walked around Stanley Market, a tourist town famous for its busy flea markets and restaurants. From there we headed down to StanleyBeach to unwind and relax. We also went to OceanPark, which is both an amusement park and a zoo/aquarium. I loved seeing the adorable, lethargic pandas and the intelligent, graceful dolphins perform. Being at OceanPark made me feel like a little child again and I was flooded with memories from my childhood since I had celebrated every one of my birthdays there.
VictoriaHarbour is quite honestly one of the most beautiful sights in the world. Even now, my breath catches just remembering the feeling of being there. There are no words to describe how majestic and captivating the sight of the soft lights from the skyscrapers dancing ever so gently on the waves is. We also made a stop to visit my dad’s childhood home. It was hard to imagine that a small farming village could still exist undisturbed from the hectic streets of the city. Seeing the farm land, the wild animals, and the abundant fruit trees, I realized how different my dad’s childhood must have been from my own.
The absolute best thing about Hong Kong is my family. Most of my dad’s side of the family still lives in Yuen Long and every time I see them I realize how lucky I am to have such loving grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. The thing I loved most about Yuen Long is that you knew every one of your neighbors, but you still felt the sophistication and glamour of the city. I loved how people in the stores recognized me from when I was a baby, even though I hadn’t seen them for many years. We stayed at home a lot, chatting, laughing, and eating everything in sight. We went to sing karaoke; I’ll always remember my aunts singing at the top of their lungs while we danced on the couches, laughing uncontrollably. The memory of my family crowded around a small pit fire, roasting marshmallows on barbeque sticks and later running around the park playing silly childhood games is one that I’ll remember forever.
I miss Hong Kong so much, but these memories remind me that home truly is where the heart is, no matter how many miles away you are.
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