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Where East Meets West

Hong Kong!

What a place. Before I arrived, I was warned by many how extremely humid it would be – and they were right. Spending around 5 years in Indonesia as a child, I was accustomed to periods of intense humidity; I felt quite sorry for others I met on exchange here from northern Europe who were only accustomed to the cold! Thankfully, anywhere indoor in Hong Kong is equipped with air conditioning, though at times this can be equally as frustrating due to the blast of 18 degree air freezing your dripping-in-sweat back. While I was also told about the extensive air conditioning, something (albeit small) I would tell new-comers to Hong Kong is to watch out on the street for the drips of cold water falling from buildings – though it is only from the air conditioning, it is not pleasurable to be alarmed by cold water dripping down your back on a packed street (yes, it happened!).

View down a street taken from the Central Mid-Level Escalator.

Hong Kong may be humid, the constant hot/cold may give you the sniffles, and you may feel like a sheep shuffling through the herd in the street at times, but Hong Kong truly is a beautiful city.

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Iconic view from Victoria Peak.

The thing I already love about this city-state (autonomous from China in all aspects apart from foreign and defensive matters) is the amount of greenery and nature it boasts. Around 60% of Hong Kong is natural terrain – from nearly anywhere, you are able to see the hills of the New Territories or southern Hong Kong Island in the background, a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Hideaways beaches and scenic hiking trails await those who are ready to explore the 650km2 of untouched land. While most see photos and hear of the extensive skyline (that is most definitely stunning), I think what truly sets Hong Kong apart is its connectedness to nature amidst the highly urbanised city centre.

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Travelling across the Tsing Ma bridge from the airport towards Hong Kong island.

The city itself is great for a lone traveller – bring some good walking shoes though! As someone who is used to being cautious walking the city streets late at night, and more often than not getting into a cab if I need to get anywhere more than 5 minutes away, Hong Kong is safe, clean and unintimidating, no matter if you are walking around at 3pm or 3am. The transport system is very easy to understand and use; real-time maps highlight the travelling direction of the train, which station the train is arriving to and departing from, as well as which station is best to interchange lines. Taxis are readily available, though it is wise to have your address written in Chinese (I have a photo on my phone) as not all drivers can speak or understand English. The city is extremely walkable, and a day can easily be spent exploring one of the many different areas Hong Kong has on offer.

Busy night out in Lan Kwai Fong, or LKF, a popular expatiate night-life area.

Safe to say, it is clear why so many people from all around the world love Hong Kong – between its skyscrapers and scenic coastlines, this city has something to offer for everyone.

The Hong Kong skyline.

Natacha Saba – 11686425

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