Hong-Kong and I had a fight, a bad one, I came home a few years back thinking of how much I hated this place and how I would never return because the experience was just unpleasant, and that Hong-Kong now was just a big city that I would endure to complete paperwork once in a while and nothing else. I felt like Hong-Kong was just making my life difficult because, unlike Robb, I wasn’t a British citizen and therefore I had to handle the heat and humidity by myself and hope very hard that I’d be lucky enough to get my paperwork back. So when we went back in February 2016, more than a year later, I wasn’t very enthusiastic at the idea of meeting again. I thought it was a
necessary stop for getting our marriage certificate and that was it. Oh and how wrong I was, Hong-Kong swallowed me whole and I left hoping I would return again.
What made it so different this time?
Was it the wedding that made such a difference? Was it the weather, grey but not as humid? I think it was probably more related to our budget. We weren’t tight on how much we would spend, we splurged on hotels, enjoyed some amazing food and that’s how Hong-Kong seemed to suddenly unveil in front of us. Suddenly it felt romantic, modern and traditional at the same time, I could recognise the mainland in some traditions, while other attitudes felt so British, but it also felt very romantic. The lights at night, the water nearby, the effervescence of the locals due to the impending Chinese New Year celebrations and all that red spread everywhere… and maybe as well the upcoming wedding.
We got married in Hong-Kong and it made it all oh so romantic even if the wedding wasn’t. We didn’t dress up, we recruited witnesses that we’d barely met beforehand… But all of this is another story.
With a view of the harbour, a cruise on the bay, walks in the busy streets of the city, it felt different. This time it was the two of us and I enjoyed every bit of it, but boy was it an expensive week. If you are on a cheap trip there is a dark side of town you will soon discover. The Chungking Mansions are probably a great example of this. I bothered Robb asking him to stay there for a night, in a cheap hotel, to experience what Wong Kar Wai showed in his movie Chungking Express and coming back at night to our room, passing the people
hailing us to buy drugs from them, tailor us a suit or find us “company”, we got back to a closed entrance with police cars, crime-scene tape, and a substantial puddle of blood on the floor… I guess Chungking will never change… But that’s what you get if your budget is limited.
In Hong-Kong, money talks.
Once you decide to loosen the purse strings a little though, the experience is very different. Trendy bars and restaurants are lining up, the best of the West and the East combine for you and nicer and quieter hotel rooms welcome you with open doors. It’s a beautiful shiny new world. People are friendly (you can’t imagine how many times I dropped money on the floor and how many times I got chased so people could give it back to me), the streets are full of colours by day and by night, a few temples are tucked away near new and big buildings, and it just doesn’t feel as rushed when you are here to visit.
I guess due to a different experience my photos might be telling a very different story from the first article I wrote about Hong-Kong. It’s hard to tell if there is a love story here but I felt the city did serenade me this time, made me feel so good… Is Hong Kong really just a gold digger? Was it the money I was willing to spend that
suddenly made it look so attractive? Or do I just get attracted by bright lights? It’s hard to tell but Hong Kong will keep a bit of a glamorous and romantic glow since it is where we got married and, like Thailand, Myanmar and Halong Bay, those places will keep an important place in my heart.
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