Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Asia's World City: Part 1

That is how Cathay Pacific calls the Hong Kong state. And indeed, it is a world city. Hong Kong's development and current state traces its roots in the deep water harbour. Hong Kong's location was unique, as it allowed smaller ships and barges from the Pearl river to ferry raw material upto the deep water harbour, from where it would be loaded onto the large ships for further transportation. Thus, being a port, Hong Kong was visited by lots of ships and its crew. Further, being a British territory for a long time, it saw settlements from various British colonies such as undivided India, some parts of the African continent, etc. And as Hong Kong transformed itself into a financial centre of the Asia-Pacific region, it saw further influx of various nationalities from around the world.

Hong Kong's economy is heavily loaded with financial services, followed by tourism. And they have pulled all stops out, to attract tourists to the city. The connect begins even before you have bought a ticket to Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) has a website in place for you to plan the journey. To start with, they offer free tourist visa on arrival for citizens of various countries. So, you can buy your ticket, take your passport and board the plane and enter Hong Kong in a jiffy. Even at the airport, the HKTB goes all the way to ensure that you get to know about the tourist spots in Hong Kong.

One thing that amazes you about Hong Kong is connectivity. The airport is around 25 km. from down-town, on a separate island. It is connected by Airport Express buses, which can take you to almost any part of Hong Kong and by Hong Kong's famous MTR. In effect, if traffic permits, you are not away from down-town Hong Kong by more than an hour.

If you are a tourist in Hong Kong, Tsim Tsa Shui (pronounced as chim cha sui) is the place to stay. Why? Because it has all sorts of accommodation options, ranging from budget hotels to luxury ones. And because of its proximity to most tourist locations in and around Hong Kong island. Also, staying in Tsim Tsa Sui lets you avoid the office crowd that pours into Hong Kong island. Tsim Tsa Sui also has connectivity to two MTR stations: Tsim Tsa Sui and East Tsim Tsa Sui, which further connect to the outer islands and other tourist locations of the SAR.

Must do in Hong Kong: Take a harbour tour on the Star Ferry to experience the colonial history and activites of Hong Kong. Go to the Avenue of Stars and take a picture along with Bruce Lee, Hong Kong's most famous international superstar. And on a clear night, if there have been no thunderstorm warnings, you can watch the Symphony of Lights show, which involves an orchestra of lights being beamed from more than twelve buildings from Hong Kong bay and Kowloon Island.

I will follow up more details about Hong Kong tourism in the next post.

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