Quirky Hong Kong

As a family holiday rule, the better-half decides where we must go and I do all the planning (ok, alright, the kids pitch in too these days). This time when he said ‘Hong Kong’, three sets of eyebrows raised in alarm and in chorus we exclaimed ‘why Hong Kong?’ Our chorus fell on deaf ears (okay, I am exaggerating for dramatic effect, he is not a meanie at all). Research for the trip threw up the usual suspects, but we managed to find some gems and off the beaten path stuff and an UNESCO Geopark.
So research complete, trip itinerary in place, eyebrows back in position, shoulders heaved a high of relief and viola, were we excited about the trip!
On our first day in Hong Kong, we decided to explore Hong Kong Island. I had charted a walking route in Central. Central is all hilly and can give San Francisco’s Lombard street a run for its money! So we walked up and down the streets and felt fit at the end of the day when we did not end up with any aches and pains 🙂 But those mid-level escalators are a real boon, I must admit!StepsWhile we walked, I couldn’t help notice all those fancy license plates on those fancy cars! Did you know that Hong Kong is among the handful countries around the world that offers car owners ‘personalised vehicle registration plates‘ or ‘vanity plates‘? Now you know, there’s a lot more pizzaz to chocolat and burgers 🙂car platesTalking about food…err…car plates….err…food…hmm…Thailand has Chang and Singapore has Tiger, but Hong Kong does not seem to have a locally produced favourite beer. Tsingtao comes closest but its not local enough, is it? And then there are a few emerging and promising microbreweries. The Japanese beer Asahi seems to be easily available and a clear favourite? BeersIf you thought all that beer got me in a tizzy, you got me wrong! Have you seen anything like this:Incense galoreThose are giant coils of incense that I found in Man Mo Temple! When they burn, they hang a plate beneath the coil to catch the ash and prevent it falling from the ground (see below). I have never seen anything like this before! Have you? Incense and ash holdersMan Mo temple was built by Chinese merchants that lived and conducted business in the Sheung Wan area. Even today, Sheung Wan is known for its wholesale and retail merchants that deal in dried seafood, herbs and tonics, importing most of the produce from mainland China. I thought it funny that they sometimes dry the goods right there on the pedestrian path! I thought we do it only in India! Right away I felt a sisterly affection for Sheung Wan in particular!SeafoodTalking of roads, we did our bit for old times sake – rode the tram and took the Star Ferry,  two of Hong Kong’s oldest transport modes and must say we LOVED it, especially the tram! It is easy to form a bond with the DingDing, as it is affectionately called 🙂
Tram and ferryThe one thing that really really touched my heart is the ubiquitous banyan tree! Who would have thought that it would be an urban tree and stand majestically along some of Hong Kong’s  busy streets! The Chinese banyan (Ficus microcarpa) is such a pretty sight with its strong trunk, green canopy, hanging roots and gnarled roots growing out of retaining walls making them ‘stone wall trees‘!Banyan TreesSome of these beauties have had to make way for urbanisation, some others continue to stand still and watch over the city. Some are ‘bonsai-ed’ to grow inside a fixed space. All in all, I hope they live forever (yes they can, if you let them be!) and I wish that their numbers only increase! 

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