I’ve never really believed that big cities could be beautiful. Dynamic, electric, inspiring? Sure. But beautiful? Not so much. The essence of beauty seemed far too lofty, too delicate, to allow itself to be captured and entrapped in towering cages forged from steel and concrete.

But the ride from the airport into the heart of Hong Kong, it is a revelation.

Perched on the top of a double-decker bus, we make our way across roads slick with rain, the water glistening atop the asphalt, refracting rays of light that grew increasingly stronger as we approached the city’s core. We cross bridges stretched across water so black it looks like liquid obsidian, slick and glimmering, capturing the light from the world and swallowing it deep. Boats resting in the harbor look like steampunk spacecrafts, preparing not to travel from port to port, but instead poised to tunnel through a vortex, a blackhole, into another galaxy.

As buildings begin to protrude from the earth like manmade stalagmites, forming the skyline for which the city is famed, I feel like we have entered a futuristic fairyworld. The cascade of lights across their building’s facades make them look as though they have been sprinkled with shimmering diamonds. Or perhaps they are merely acting as the scaffolding for dainty 21st century fireflies, softly glowing against the inky night sky. Watching the lights dance and twinkle at unthinkable heights, it seems as though a pathway clear up to the heavens has been lit for those brave enough to climb, to soar.

I had fretted that arriving in the dead of night is always the worst way to meet a city, the cloak of darkness disorienting and masking a place’s true form. Not so in Hong Kong. At night, the city bursts brilliantly to life. Its tapestry of lights reveals a vibrant elegance that is utterly mesmerizing, and somehow never garish or brash. My senses are ensnared, the riot of flickering lights mirroring the frenzied firing of the synapses in my buzzing brain.

Gazing on Hong Kong at night, I can’t help but fall a little bit in love as I witness a slumbering city— a sleeping beauty—awaken.

I think we’re going to like it here…

Written by: Stephenie Harrison

In another life, I moved from Toronto, Canada to Nashville, TN to pursue my doctoral degree in Psychology. That chapter of my life is now finished, but I did earn the right to demand you call me Dr. Steph (though I respond just as well to plain old Steph). I am an avid reader whose book collection is rivaled only by my many pairs of cute shoes. I also like to knit, hold impromptu karaoke parties, and try new and unusual foods. Generally not all at the same time. I also really love to learn languages, which may explain why I took 3 years of Latin in highschool. I'm turning over a new leaf, so instead of looking forward, I'm going to work on enjoying the present, so the country I'm most looking forward to is whichever one we're in right now!

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Read comments (9)

  1. November 14, 2012 at 8:33 am
    Nov. 14, '12

    Beautiful writing Steph! I never pictured Hong Kong like this, but you’ve won me over!

    • November 18, 2012 at 12:24 am
      Nov. 18, '12

      Thanks, Rika! I didn’t expect to respond the way I did to Hong Kong, so I tried my best to paint a picture with words… but nothing beats actually being there!

  2. November 15, 2012 at 4:20 pm
    Nov. 15, '12

    It’s interesting which cities will just grab ahold of you like that. I remember feeling that way the moment I stepped off the train in Venice.

    I’m sure video just can’t capture it for someone who has never seen it. It was strange to watch, though, because especially the tunnels and highway sections – it reminded me a LOT of SanAntonio! I would not have expected that at all!! Once you were off the highway, it reminded me of NYC or of images I’ve seen of Tokyo, which I’m sure just shows how much video can’t really capture the essence of the things around you.

    • November 18, 2012 at 12:26 am
      Nov. 18, '12

      Yes, it was doubly interesting that I loved Hong Kong so immediately, given the lukewarm response we had to Tokyo!

      For me, watching the video Tony made takes me right back to HK, but I can see that it might not do the same if you’ve never set foot there! I was expecting it to be a lot like New York & Tokyo, but I loved it so much more. I love NYC, but I think Hong Kong is more vibrant and exotic, and somehow manages to feel small yet sprawling all at the same time. Haven’t been anywhere quite like it!

  3. November 17, 2012 at 9:53 pm
    Nov. 17, '12

    I could not visit Hong Kong due to time constraints and only got to roam about at the airport while our stopover. It was wonderful!

    • November 18, 2012 at 12:38 am
      Nov. 18, '12

      One day you will have to visit Hong Kong! It may not be the most veggie friendly city on the planet, but it’s still a seriously great time!

  4. December 5, 2012 at 10:54 pm
    Dec. 5, '12

    Hi Steph! I missed you! It’s wonderful to visit here again and see that you’re still actively blogging and sharing your adventures with us. I’ve been to Hong Kong a few times and I agree with you, it’s so alive, even so late at night. I remember walking the streets way past midnight with my brother and sister and never feeling like it was curfew time. Hope your day today is wonderful!

    • December 8, 2012 at 2:54 am
      Dec. 8, '12

      Claire! So good to hear from you! One of these days I will write a book review for S&TI! again, but for now I am focusing my efforts on getting 20YH as up to date as possible… it’s a never-ending battle really! 😉 Maybe the next time Tony & I are in the GTA we can meet up; I’d really love that!

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