A Tale of Two Cities: Singapore and Hong Kong, First Impressions
I feel like a terrible traveler today. Plan A, B and C went to hell as the sky filled with thunder, lightening and torrential rain. My Plan D is sitting in a dim sum tea house, drinking tea and trying to “figure out” this city I want desperately to love.
From the untrained and inexperienced eye of a Westerner, Singapore and Hong Kong should be similar on some accounts. Both cities have long, complex histories heavily influenced by extended time under British control. Both cities are culturally diverse and harmoniously host people of different nationalities and religions. Both cities are world-class financial and commerce hubs and have endless opportunities for good eating and shopping. It seems natural to compare the two, yes? Yet Singapore and Hong Kong are so very, very different.
My initial impression of Singapore was it was all shiny-new, efficient, clean and green. The airport itself was a study in good design with its free movie theater, 3 story slide, butterfly garden and rooftop pool and hot tub. The ride from the airport to the hotel took you along palm-tree and garden-lined roads and bridges and deposited you at your hotel in full view of some of the most spectacular modern architecture in the world. It was hot and steamy with a slight breeze (also hot). Everyone was friendly, welcoming and willing to engage in lengthy conversations about anything/everything.
My first impression of Hong Kong was…different. The airport was practical and efficient and the vibe intense. Everyone seemed intent on getting from point A to B in the most expeditious manner. Efficiency was the name of the game. The taxi ride to the hotel took us through a series of tunnels and overpasses framed by towering, glowing apartment blocks and glitzy office buildings. We arrived at our hotel in time to see the nightly laser show sweeping Hong Kong’s waterfront skyline. I didn’t realize how much of Hong Kong is tucked into the high hills above the harbor until the sun rose the next morning. The lush, green hills and soaring skyscrapers make Hong Kong a study in contrast.
The rain stopped and I’m off to The Peak for a little hiking and picture-taking. It’s amazing what an afternoon in a steamy tea house can do for the soul. The lovely ladies sitting next to me told me “dim sum” means “touch the heart.” After my afternoon sitting in a steamy tea house, stuffing my face with dim sum and tea, I can already feel Hong Kong working its magic on mine. Let me know if you have any great travel tips for Hong Kong. I don’t want to miss anything…
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