Hong Kong. The harbour is indisputably the essence of the city. The whole place has an undeniable energy about it – with the liveliness of both Hong Kong Island and Kowloon Peninsula balanced by the waters of Victoria Harbour.
I’ve been to Hong Kong three times in the past twenty years and each visit has revealed something different. It’s such a vibrant and dynamic place – with its mix of old and new, of colonial and traditional, of commotion and tranquillity.
My last trip there
My last trip was a work visit. My colleague from Melbourne, Sandra, knew a local who took us on a true Hong Kong neighbourhood experience. We immersed ourselves in thriving Mong Kok and went to one of the coolest and authentic cafes – one we’d never have found on our own.
The following night, Sandra led me to The Pool Terrace – high in a towering Tsim Sha Tsui building – for cocktails and a gourmet meal, where we had a panoramic view of the harbour and Hong Kong Island. We spent a memorable evening, transfixed by the harbour as it transitioned from daylight to dark.
In Cherry Blossom Footsteps
In my novel Cherry Blossom Footsteps, the whole second half is set in Hong Kong. Reflecting my love of the place, the book takes the reader around many of the city’s varied neighbourhoods, several less well-known places and on to explore some of the nearby islands.
Main character, Lauren, is on her first overseas trip. In just a few weeks her ventures include Tsim Sha, Mong Kok, Kwun Tong, New Territories, Central, Mid-Levels, Sheung Wan, Wan Chai, Causeway Bay, North Point, Stanley, Tai O, and Cheung Chau.
While Lauren has her own fun finding her way around, she’s also retracing some family footsteps. The story recalls her intrepid grandmother’s visit to Hong Kong in the 1960s.
My own interest in Hong Kong’s mid-20th century was sparked by Wong Kar-wai’s 2000 movie In the Mood for Love. The movie recreates the 1960s culture and atmosphere of a city in transition, with scenes in ‘modern’ offices and apartment blocks and dark urban alleys. It’s a love story between two jilted would-be lovers, played by Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung. Maggie is dressed in a series of exquisite cheongsam dresses, worth the price of the movie ticket alone.
The place to visit
Everyone who’s read the novel has said it’s made them want to visit, or revisit, Hong Kong. Those who had already been there said the novel covers parts of Hong Kong they hadn’t been aware of. In the past they’d stuck to the main tourist sites in just a brief stay. The book has inspired readers to get to Hong Kong as soon as they can.