Every two years, my family would save up enough money to travel back to our roots: Hong Kong. In the August of 2009, I returned back to my homeland. It was different this time around compared to the last few times I visited; the ambience was something i had never experienced before and the culture seemed to ooze out of every corner. We stayed at the Empire Hotel, located on Hong Kong Island. ( Quick background, there are two islands to Hong Kong: Hong Kong Island and Kowloon Island. Most tourists stay in Kowloon, since many of the greatest sights and tourists attractions are there. Hong Kong Island is mostly made up of the working class in Hong Kong, and where most of the urban life is. )
Like any other internationally renowned city, there is simply too much to do in this small, bustiling city of life! For this time around, my family and I decided to hit The Peak, Stanley Market, and Kowloon Park. Our first stop was The Peak, the only building where one would be able to see all of Hong Kong and Kowloon. The view itself was breathtaking and the feeling that you were on top of it all was extraordinary. The ability to see and feel all of Hong Kong and Kowloon in one spot is indescribable. Stanley Market was next on our list. This “road” is very well known as a tourist attraction as well, but it very well embodies the Chinese culture with every step of it. This road, or roads, I should say, is home to many stands run by Chinese families. Authentic cultural items, caligraphy art, can be found in here. Caligraphy is an infamous technique of writing used the Chinese, and can be dated back to China’s birth. With every stroke, i could see the bit of history being passed on from generation to generation, from culture to culture. Kowloon Park was the last and final destination we had to hit. At the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, is Kowloon Park; a beautiful scene of greenery and tropical flowers with accents of Chinese culture through its architecture. Beautiful and authentic pagodas and lilypond scenes could be seen throughout the park. I actually could feel the roots of my Chinese ancestors speaking to me through these small fragments, reminding me of my history.
The culture of the Hong Kongnese people aren’t only shown through “tourist traps”; if you walked down any street of Hong Kong, you would feel the earth below you brimming with culture – but not just Chinese culture. From little bakery shops to snack shops, you can find authentic Chinese food anywhere; the Chinese culture here remains constant. However, as the decades pass, the true culture and the diversity of Hong Kong has changed. Starting with Japanese ice cream stores to fashion boutiques, European fashion and food, and of course, the American culture of fast food, Hong Kong has become recognized as a beautiful city of diversity, where East meets West. And because of that, the quick pace of life never stops for a second here. When you walk down the streets now, the ever permanent culture of the Chinese may fill the air, but in these times, the streets are a grand melting pot of ever changing international cultures.
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