Exploring Central and Sheung Wan in a city of opposites
When you go to a place as bustling as Hong Kong for only two weeks, your days and nights are bound to be filled with exploring. Over a fortnight, Bradley and I walked so much that my watch kept buzzing with new step goal achievements and records every few hours. Although my feet aren’t so thankful, our days spent exploring paid off as we slowly started learning the quirks of the city/island that by the end of it, I would call ourselves (almost) experts at navigating our way through Hong Kong Island.
Something I loved was the juxtaposition of the city, and the more we explored the more opposites I noticed. There were obvious things, like the skyscrapers competing with the towering trees, lush forests and mountains. Or the skies that were usually gloomy and cloudy – threatening rain (and a typhoon) – even though it was always hot and humid. Some of the opposites were small but helpful, like how every sign was written in Chinese and English. Others were ironic, like how Hong Kong Park is considered an oasis amongst the concrete, even though it’s mostly man-made. One of my favourite “opposites” that we came across was surprising: I found the people who spoke the least English to be the most helpful (with no help from my end by the way, seeing as my ability to speak Cantonese is dismal). After 10 minutes of perusing the lolly store for sweets to take home for my family, it was an old Chinese woman who wordlessly advised me on what tasted nice and what didn’t (turns out thumbs up/thumbs down is universal). After getting lost on our quest to find this particular restaurant, it was an old Chinese man who gave us the directions in very limited words. After asking a bus driver who spoke not a word of English if he stopped at a particular stop, it was also he who – when we reached the stop – came to find us on the top deck to let us know we had reached our destination.
I found it sweet how people who were so completely opposite from me (that we didn’t even share a language) were the ones who were the most helpful. I guess seeing the city and encountering its people acted as a good reminder of how things that are completely opposing and different can come together to create something truly special and memorable.