Horsing around Hong Kong
“Is there anything worth seeing on the other side?”
Map unfurled, the two visitors gestured at the skyline as the city lights flickered on across the harbour. It was a valid question but also a remarkably silly one, and I listened intently as a solo traveller tried his best to answer their query. Had they asked me, I wouldn’t even know where to begin. What were they interested in? What kind of sights did they want to see? Aspects of traditional culture? Street markets? Or the island’s less-trumpeted beaches and hiking trails?
Eventually the three exchanged names and trooped off, leaving me wondering if they would get a true picture of Hong Kong. Perhaps they would catch a glimpse, huddling over dinner on plastic stools at Temple Street Night Market. Or maybe they would see the unexpected natural beauty from a double decker bus, travelling the winding coast road to Stanley. But nothing could match what Bama and I had experienced during the past 14 days.
Soon after our joint trip to Bali, my parents kindly offered to host Bama over the Chinese New Year holidays. Our friendship was forged two years ago on his first visit to the territory, and this time I took Bama to many of my favourite places around Hong Kong, while discovering some new gems along the way. Together we hiked to the secluded beaches of Tai Long Wan, ate fresh seafood on Lamma Island, watched the Chinese New Year fireworks, and explored historical villages in the New Territories.
What has made Bama’s visit even more special is the timing – so far he’s enjoyed an inside look at the traditions of this festive season: tasting dishes prepared only for Chinese New Year, wandering the annual flower markets in Victoria Park, and receiving his first packets of “lucky money”, or lai see (also known as angpao in Indonesia). For me, it’s been a real joy to usher in the Year of the Horse with my close friend and travel companion; to show Bama the four corners of Hong Kong at their very best. ◊