Travel to Asia: A new understanding–Hong Kong

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With this series, we re-introduce our Soulful Travel Guide, Becky Burns. It’s been awhile since her words have tickled our pages, but she’s back! Becky retired in 2017, lives in Florida, and continues to travel widely. Join her on this insightful and heartfelt review of a trip to Asia. You’ll love it!

Travel to Asia: A new understanding–Hong Kong

In early March, I had an opportunity to visit Asia. The trip involved me accompa-nying my partner, Robert, as he was involved in some business ventures. I had time on my own, as well as time with him and others.

We began our trip in Hong Kong, spent a few days in Taiwan, and then spent an extended week in Japan. During our time in Taiwan and Japan, we had the invaluable services of two women from Robert’s company, who provided us access to places we would likely have never found on our own. Some of these were incredible local restaurants, some were shrines not typically visited by outsiders, and some were guided tours by local people, eager to share their history and their stories. During the last week of the trip, we also traveled with a business partner of Robert’s and his wife, and were able to see through their lens as well. 

To say that this trip altered my own lens would be an understatement. I’m offering stories, on a soulful level, of a trip that changed my understanding of life. To me, it encapsulates why all of us travel, as we see new places and are touched deeply by what we’ve experienced. Thank you, as always, for traveling with me. 

Travel to Asia: A new understanding–Hong Kong

Mongkok street

My introduction to Asia occurred in Hong Kong. A vibrant place, seeming to have its own pulse, which was quick, steady, and in constant motion. Everything worked in Hong Kong. We wanted a ferry across the harbor — we were there. We asked about the subway stop for a recommended restaurant—we were there. 

I loved this city, as it just absolutely was the definition of a city. 

We stayed in Mongkok, which isn’t a typical destination for tourists, but it proved to be absolutely full of life. Gritty, sparkly life. Walking down the street, we encountered every hardware shop known to humanity, and I’m quite sure if you needed a screw to a motor built in 1941, you would find it on this particular block. There were men blow torching engine blocks on the sidewalk - not a problem. 

Mongkok. From Travel to Asia: A new understanding–Hong Kong

Hong Kong grit and grime

We walked to the Mongkok market, which had an array of fruits and vegetables I’ve never seen before, and nobody spoke English, so most of these remained a mystery. “Are those Lychee?” I wondered…and what about this? Oh, a mangosteen, my daughter said later after viewing the photo. Be sure to eat one. Yeah, sure. Fresh meat and fish, some still alive and awaiting their fate, were everywhere. Some were smoked and dried and set swinging on strings in the breeze, and got me wondering how they’d be ingested, never mind digested. Holy Moly. Now, this was a market. I highly recommend staying off the beaten track in Hong Kong. I shudder to think what I might have missed had we opted for the Mandarin Hotel…ha!

Mongkok Market. From Travel to Asia: A new understanding–Hong Kong

Mongkok market

Mongkok Market. From Travel to Asia: A new understanding–Hong Kong

Take your pick

Mongkok Market. From Travel to Asia: A new understanding–Hong Kong

What is this?

Mongkok Market. From Travel to Asia: A new understanding–Hong Kong

And, what is that?

The Fishing Village

We took a bus to the Aberdeen area, which is the site of a fishing village of sam-pans or junkets, old fishing boats that are also vessels that travel, tour, and provide shelter. Sadly, a vibrant community of Tanka people has dwindled down to just a few boats. Most of the harbor has been cleared by the Chinese government, which took over Hong Kong from British rule in 1997. Fancy yachts now dock there, seeming to mock the poor man’s fishing village that had endured for centuries. When an old man pulled into a dock in his wooden junket, we willingly jumped onboard for an hour tour along what is left of this historic place. I noticed many charms and altars set up inside the boat, probably for protection. I found my heart aching for a livelihood gone too soon, and for a world that won’t know or understand this life. 

The Fishing Village. From Travel to Asia: A new understanding–Hong Kong

What's left of a village

The Fishing Village. From Travel to Asia: A new understanding–Hong Kong

View from our junk

The Fishing Village. From Travel to Asia: A new understanding–Hong Kong

An old floating restaurant

The Fishing Village. From Travel to Asia: A new understanding–Hong Kong

Altar at Aberdeen bus stop

The Tourist View

There aren’t many times I recommend a common tourist activity, replete with throngs of people and busses unloading faster than tickets can be sold. But going on “The View” tram up to Victoria Peak to see the dazzling skylines of Hong Kong is not to be missed. Even on a misty cloudy day, one felt as if this was truly the top of the world, looking down on creation, of sorts. 

The Tourist View. From Travel to Asia: A new understanding–Hong Kong

Victoria Peak

The Tailor

Tailors are a dying breed, one might think. But not in Hong Kong. Everywhere we walked, men came up to Robert and offered him a suit, a shirt, a custom jack-et…whatever he needed. But Robert already had a tailor in Hong Kong, and was hoping he was still there after all these years. We were walking down the opposite side of the street, and this very tailor happened to be standing outside his shop, recognized Robert, and began waving at him to come over. After 14 years, this man seemed to be waiting for one of his finest customers to return. (Robert not only had several garments sewn there, but over the years brought many additional customers into the fold, as they say!) We looked through bolts of fine fabric from Japan (not China, he kept saying) and three new shirts were ordered, ready the next day. 

At the tailor's! Travel to Asia: A new understanding–Hong Kong

Tailor shop

The Travel to Asia: A New Understanding Series

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Becky Burns, our Soulful Travel Guide, is a retired educator living in Sarasota, Florida. Her travel stories provide an interpretation of her trips around the globe on a soulful level, where she muses about coincidences, connections, and life lessons. You may follow her here at wandering educators, where she posts periodically.

All photos courtesy and copyright Becky Burns

 

 

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