So here is the promised Insta-diary post! I took many, many photos in HK on my phone and most of these were published on Instagram. It took me an age to edit down the pics to use but as you can see, it's still a pretty picture heavy post...
HK is a bustling city where old meets new and every corner is an instagrammers dream. I tend to take the shots of the same places like the crossing at Sogo in Causeway Bay, Times Square, the skyline from Tsim Sha Tsui and the fruit stall near my family's apartment. Day to day life here is so much more vibrant and gritty compared to back home in my leafy, English suburb!
Dim sum is essential when you're in Hong Kong. The Cantonese delicacy has always been a weekly staple in my diet and HK dim sum is of course, much better than anything in the UK. There are definitely some rubbish dim sum places in HK but while the dim sum chefs in the UK learned their skills long ago in HK, a lot of dim sum chefs in HK have improved and honed their skills further and literally bring new ideas to the table. A necessity in HK where Dim Sum restaurants are everywhere. Not forgetting the fact that the food industry is fast moving, cut throat and where rent can soar astronomically and restaurants are forced to close.
In HK there are a million cute things. From the overwhelming kawaii packaging of beauty products to the different public artworks which mean that photo opportunities are hard to resist. There are ALWAYS queues in Times Square for giant plastic inanimate objects which are prime targets for selfies. Also, every other person in HK seems to own a dSLR and I saw many people toting around their 5D's to take photos of the public art works (it was elephants while I was there!). I also returned to the Studio Ghibli store in LCX, Harbour City to say hi to giant Totoro again.
Most days my routines consisted of hanging out with friends. I spent time with Kit and Sam where one of the highlights included Disneyland Hong Kong in the sweltering heat. I attended my old uni classmate's beautiful wedding at the stunning Shangri La hotel. It was perfect and I was reunited with friends from Taiwan/China/Malaysia that I have literally note seen in years. It was emotional and makes me pretty eager to visit my Taiwanese friends especially! This time, I made sure to spend some time doing some more cultural things, like checking out the exhibition at Asia Society, whose sharp angles and green forest are a feast for the eyes and the exhibition was awesome too. I drank a lot of tea at Sam's pinterest-worthy apartment, finally visited PMQ and checked out lots of beautiful lanterns for the Mid Autumn Festival.
The food! As you guys know, I'm totally into my food. I've eaten pretty much all my favourite foods in HK including won ton noodles, crispy roast goose, Xiao Long Bao dumplings at Din Tai Fung, tonkatsu, sushi, Korean BBQ, Toasted buns with butter/condensed milk at the local cha chan tent (HK style cafe), nordic style food at a restaurant in a warehouse (in the middle of nowhere) and custard moon cakes. The latter are completely unavailable in the UK and the box above were pre-ordered in April by my food-loving family. Crazy!
Catch ups with friends and family always revolve around food and drink. Stops at coffee shops are routine where I had my favourite Taiwanese bubble tea with Michelle, lots of iced lemon tea and some milky matcha with brown sugar jelly. Yum!
Mornings and evenings of course, are always at my family's place over in North Point. Being super central, I'm really lucky that I can even walk into Causeway Bay if I wanted (probably the equivalent of Oxford St area in london) I managed to walk home one night and was amazed how close I am! It's so nice to eat with family at home, drink my grandma's Chinese soups, watch and criticise the TV shows with the family and watch the sun set opposite the apartment, over Kowloon. So that's it! My round up is done for another year. There are talks of a big family visit next Summer so I will hopefully be back again soon.
I'll admit it seems a little strange to publish these nostalgic images when HK is experiencing such turmoil and unrest right now. A less rosy, different side of Hong Kong has been weighing heavily on my mind over the last few days. Images of students and HK citizens bracing themselves against tear gas and alleged rubber bullets (just a scare tactic I hope) due to the pro-democracy student protests and Occupy Central movements. At the time of publishing this, the first image of Causeway Bay is vastly different and rather than full of shoppers, it is now fully occupied by protesters. I have friends who have joined the cause and I've been following it closely on Twitter. I'm amazed at the peace - there has been no looting, no fires or vandalism which are all things we usually associate with protests. Instead I've seen images of people sending supplies of water, googles to protect from tear gas, recycling rubbish, singing old school Cantonese songs and even a small group of classical musicians entertaining the crowds. Even though I didn't grow up in HK, I still like to call it home and it makes me so proud seeing the united and passionate crowds. On the other hand it's seen as a massive inconvenience for commuters with some believing the cause is unrealistic and a losing battle with China. I am not going to pretend I know all about the politics in HK, but I believe change IS possible...