I am currently living in Hong Kong, which is to the south of China and to the northeast of Vietnam. It is considered a part of Southeast Asia. Follow along as I take you on a virtual tour of Hong Kong!
Hong Kong itself is divided into two distinct parts: Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsula. Follow along as I draw a map of Hong Kong with my words and see if you can draw a map to match my description! Then, check out a map online to see if your map is accurate!
Hong Kong Island is where most of the activities happen and where most people work. Hong Kong Island is effectively divided into two sections by a chain of mountainous terrain going east to west. Most of the people live near the bottom of either sides of the mountain, although some live on the middle of the mountain and some even live at the top. Living at the middle and at the top of the mountain is considered a show of wealth and power in Hong Kong because housing is so expensive there. The middle of the mountain is called “Mid-levels” and the top is simply called “the Peak”. Famous people like Jackie Chan live at the Peak, and from there you can see the entire city of Hong Kong and its bright sea of lights.
Most businesses in Hong Kong are located on the north side of the island, and it is a very busy area. The south side of the island is much quieter due to there being less people, and it is facing the South China Sea. There are multiple harbors located near the area, and the most famous one of them is called Aberdeen. In Aberdeen, many boats and ships are docked in its harbor, and it has been historically used as a typhoon (or storm) shelter for sailors trying to avoid dangerous waves. Going east from Aberdeen is an area called Stanley, which is known for its beaches and its grand scenery. There are many hiking trails here due to the beauty of the nature here, and many local Hong Kongers come to this area to hike and jog around. On the west side of Aberdeen, there is an island called Lantau which is connected by several extremely large bridges. Although hardly anyone in Hong Kong lives in Lantau Island, it is important because that is where the Hong Kong International Airport, or HKG, is located. On Lantau Island, there is a place called Discovery Bay where most people live. Interestingly, Discovery Bay is a neighborhood dominated by Westerners. Most people that live near the Discovery Bay area are either American or European expatriates that have lived in Hong Kong for a while. It is also where the famous Big Buddha of Hong Kong is located, which is one of Asia’s largest Buddha statues.
The Kowloon Peninsula is where most people live and do leisurely activities. Hong Kong Island is located to the south of Kowloon, and is connected to Kowloon by two bridges and several tunnels. Kowloon itself is also connected to mainland China. North of Kowloon is the famous port mainland city of Shenzhen, which is known for its quick growth in the past two decades. Kowloon is further divided into the Kwun Tong district and the New Territories, where my university is located. The New Territories take up the vast majority of the land in Kowloon and is where most of the nature is also located. It is located north of the Kwun Tong district and extends all the way to mainland China. Because of its proximity to China, it is very easy and convenient to take a train from Hong Kong to other cities in southern China. Within the Kowloon Peninsula, the Kwun Tong district is a more urban, commercial area where the majority of the people live. Kwun Tong faces the ocean on the south side facing the Hong Kong Island and away from the New Territories. Kwun Tong is one of the oldest regions of Hong Kong, and even used to be a small harbor for trade.
One thing is prevalent anywhere you go within the area: there are always people present. Even in the most rural of areas, there are tall buildings to be found. There is virtually no area in Hong Kong where you cannot glimpse a building at least ten stories high. In fact, many of the less wealthy people live in very rural areas in high-rise skyscrapers. You can’t see anything for a bit and then all of a sudden, bam! There are twenty skyscrapers that rise up out of nowhere. I found this especially ironic because these high-rise apartment buildings are so far out of reach from the rest of Hong Kong. My roommate, who lives in such a place, told me that these buildings were public housing estates. This means that the Hong Kong government pays for builders to build high-rise apartments and offers them to poor and middle-income people at a discount rate. Therefore, these apartments are often very ugly-looking and are not very luxurious in terms of style, comfort or location. As mentioned before, they are located far from the heart of activity; many people need to travel at least an hour to get to work in the morning during workdays.
One factor that I underestimated about Hong Kong is the humidity here. The heat and humidity in the summer almost controls people’s lives in a way, because they are limited by these conditions. When I first arrived in Hong Kong, it was wintertime so the weather was pleasant, dry and sunny. However, as April and May loomed around, I soon began to realize exactly why it was named as one of the warmest cities in Asia. Although it has not gotten extremely hot because it is still springtime, the humidity has nevertheless been absolutely unbearable on some days. On some days, the humidity was so bad that the mirrors on the bathroom walls were dripping with water and my friend had to throw away his clothes because they became moldy. Therefore, every public building blasts air conditioning to the point where people have to take jackets inside because it is simply too cold. I have been in some buildings where the air conditioning was so strong that I could see my own breath! Such is the result of living in such a hot and humid place!