Posted by: Rebecca | March 16, 2012

Hong Kong – final thoughts

The political stuff

I really like Hong Kong. It’s not trying too hard; there aren’t tourist groups wandering everywhere, it’s not trying to make a living or a name for itself by publicising its past and there aren’t touts or obvious signs of poverty. The island and its inhabitants just appear to be productive, making a living, and seem relatively unaffected by the reams of aliens like me wandering about. Everyone just slots in, has their place, and goes about their business.

To me, this seems bizarre, given its relatively recent transition from being part of the British empire to returning to China – the only question in my mind, is why ever did this take so long? Despite the obvious British influence (most of which appears to be road-related – registration plate style, double yellow lines, road signs, traffic bollards etc) the rest of Hong Kong island just feels Chinese to me, although having never actually been to China, this could be quite a sweeping statement!

My impressions

But I really like it. I like the mix of old and new architecture, the sense of planning, the cleanliness of a dirty environment, the intelligent 3D use of space, the sympathetic approach to signage (allowing consistency to make the necessary / functional things clear, yet leaving plenty of opportunity for brands to stand out).

The smells are amazing too, and different by day to night. Last night I was entertained by spices and the smell of food everywhere I went. Whereas today, it was all sorts, from herbal medicine, to perfumery, to wood, to fresh fish and the dust of construction work going on all over the place (which seemed invisible last night?!)

I love the central escalator – a pedestrian walkway network, raised from the ground so you can get directly (literally, through the middle of buildings) from the mid levels down to the centre, without fighting the traffic – I’m sure this contributes to why the traffic flows freely, even in rush hour; no pedestrians getting in the way! That said, the part of this network which does actually include an escalator (the longest in the world), I never used. Call me old fashioned, but I wanted to walk up and down the little streets, however many steps there were, and there were hundreds!

Why do you always find a nugget as you’re preparing to leave?!

This happened to me in New York too! I discovered the cocktail bar with 4-piece jazz band, overlooking Grand Central Station’s central mall, when I was killing my last hour in Manhattan – gutted; I’d go back, just for another ‘big chief’ there.

But it happened today too. With 2 hours left before I had to start thinking about the airport run, a friend inboxed me to suggest I went to Lan Kwai Fong (tick) and the Pawn (?) Luckily, he included a URL for the latter, so I looked it up and 20 minutes later, here I am. And I like it, a lot. Partly, this is because it gave me a reason to head underground into HK’s train system (like many things here, it makes our equivalent (the tube) look more historic than functional.) But the Pawn is probably my bar of choice in Hong Kong.

The Pawn

From the street, it’s just a small door leading to a dark unlit staircase. I did ask myself, is this safe / open? Could just be a prankful play on words from Mr Summerfield? But I decided to stop being a wuss and just go and find out. And I’m glad I did. The Pawn is a dining room / restaurant / lounge bar, with 4 original balconies seating those who want to watch the world go by outside. The menu is comprehensive and the style is elegantly easy – dark wooden floorboards, booths with throw cushions inside, small round tables, wooden shutter doors, and hip-height glass between me and the original balcony façade outside. The most expensive thing on the menu is a £400 vintage cigar! The clientele is mixed (I feel a little underdressed in my jeans and Superdry, but no-one cares). Definitely another one to bring the olds to when I meet them in HK in 3 weeks’ time – assuming dad gets past the outdoor basketball courts at Wan Chai, and mum can do the stairs – it’s worth it.

I could’ve stayed there for hours, but had to dash, Cathay Pacific calling… it’s Aussie time!Image

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