Sunday, January 29, 2012

The most crowded place on earth

For neon-lit, beehive insanity and just sheer Hong Kong-ness, nothing beats the streets of Kowloon at night. The Mongkok neighborhood, where a number of the pictures below were taken, is often cited as the most densely populated area on Earth - I read one estimate of 500,000 people per square mile. The signage alone makes it worth wandering around. The only thing I can compare this to in my experience is Times Square, but Mongkok is less sanitized and (relatively) less corporatized, and still contains a lot of local, daily life as part of the mix, instead of being given over completely to tourists (although there's no shortage of them).

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Up Nathan Road through Kowloon

The epic traffic and shopping thoroughfare Nathan Road, which runs for miles north through the heart of Kowloon. This is not even remotely the road at its busiest.

Tsimshatsui waterfront and the Avenue of Stars

A quick ferry ride across Victoria Harbor drops you off at the waterfront in Tsimshatsui, the southernmost neighborhood in the Kowloon district. From here, you get the most famous postcard views of the northern shore of Hong Kong Island and its skyline. The four photos below are from the viewing deck up above the pavement.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Party in Central and everyone's invited! Especially if you're from the Philippines.

According to one account I read, the largest foreign population in HK is Filipina domestic workers. Sunday is their collective day off and they flood into Central for picnics and general camaraderie, taking over much of the public space, sitting on blankets or mats or whatever. Below are a few shots I got on the Central walkways. That's quite a clash of worlds below... Western tourists on the left, emigrant maids on the right.

The Star Ferry

Along with the Mid-Levels Escalator and the Central tram (pictures of that to come), the Star line is one of the great sightseeing bargains of the world - about 25 cents American for the top deck, for a roughly 7-minute ride between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, with the warm sea breeze blowing through (on a good day) and great views of the skyline on both sides and the harbor.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Mid-Levels Escalator

As I said in a previous post, my favorite thing in Hong Kong might have been this chain of covered outdoor escalators and walkways that stretches between Central and the Mid-Levels, providing easy transport on foot up and down the side of the mountain. The escalators run down in the morning until about 10:30 and then switch direction and go up until shutting down at midnight, with lots of on and off points along the way. The escalator hooks up with the Central walkways, allowing me to make a leisurely 30-minute walk from the street where my hotel was down to the ferry piers at the waterfront, while hardly setting my foot on ground-level sidewalks or having to dodge traffic or wait to cross a street. I went down it almost every morning and back up almost every night.

An election on a Sunday?! Madness!

I had no idea that district council elections were scheduled for my second day there. My first clue was when I woke up Sunday morning to the shouts of these protesters across the street (the college next door was a polling station). Wish I'd gotten a shot of a woman towards the right end breaking away from the protest area and running down the street a minute later, yelling and waving her sign, pursued by the cops.