I have been a little slow at posting about my trip to Hong Kong. Apologies. I have been distracted by a project I have been working on (which I will post about in a week or two), and MERS of course more recently. Hong Kong made a largely positive impression on me.
One thing that had me salivating was the mingling of nature within urban landscapes. Seoul doesn’t have much nature within the city, unless you want to climb a mountain. But mostly you’ll find people getting drunk off the path, not communing with nature. There are some parks in the center of the city, but most of them are concrete bike path spased with some flat lawns for picnics sprinkled in between. (The exception to this is Seoul Forest which is in the north eastern corner of the city– therefore, too far for me to enjoy often. Taking public transit makes that journey about 90 minutes one way.)
In Hong Kong, the landscape was much more interesting thanks to the bay, but also thanks to the many parks and gardens. My flatmate and traveling companion for this trip wasn’t terribly fond of Hong Kong (she is secretly Korean and couldn’t bear to be out of Seoul for so long).However, when we stumbled upon a flower show in Victoria Park, she was delighted. Near the tennis courts, a large portion of the park was covered by tableaus made of hedges and flowers, and there were tents full of flowers from local schools and professional florists.
We stumbled upon another park in the posh central district. It had wide flat lawns where clubs and study groups were meeting, people were practicing music, eating lunch, and enjoying the warm spring weather. Trees and shrubs gave shade, and large fountains refreshed the scene. What struck me most was how feminine the population of these parks was. There were three women for every man in the park. And many of the women were part of Hong Kong’s large and diverse immigrant population. Women from the Philippines, Indonesia, mainland China, even some western countries, were all enjoying some green in the middle of the city.
On Hong Kong island we found a Botanical Garden and Zoological Park that was free and open to the public. It ended up being a steeper climb than we anticipated (we should have taken the bus instead of walking the whole way), but when we arrived, it was gorgeous. There were many primates in the zoological park as well as birds, and small mammals.
The garden had tropical native plants of Hong Kong. In their greenhouses were gorgeous orchids.
The park was full of family enjoying time together as well as people looking for a quiet retreat to eat their lunch or get some exercise.