Most long-term readers will know that Hong Kong has a special place in my heart and the last few years have been incredibly depressing to see it ravaged by political unrest and then the pandemic which imposed harsh rules which left the city virtually inaccessible until November 2022.
With some trepidation and excitement, I made my way back, first in October 2022 and then again in February 2023. The former required both pre and post-arrival covid tests from people dressed in hazmat suits while the latter was surprisingly “normal” whatever that means anymore.
It surprised me just how fast people were prepared to shrug off three years of isolation though I imagine the trauma of it all will be felt for many years to come in various ways we have not yet anticipated.
Despite all that had happened, it felt good to be back and on the surface, the city seemed much the same as before albeit slightly quieter than before. I mostly only had time to explore during the evenings and this post collates a few snaps I took while reacquainting myself with Asia’s world city.
First opened in 1842 but closed in 2003, Central Market has recently been renovated and luckily many of the original elements of the Bauhaus building have been retained. The site would probably have housed a skyscraper and been privatised, had a plan to auction off the land not been halted by the city’s bourgeoning heritage conservation movement.
Tai Kwun is another example of a successful urban revitalisation project, having turned the former Central Police Station, Central Magistracy and Victoria Prison into a centre for heritage and arts. Having sneaked in to explore the site before it was renovated back in 2011, it was good to see that much of the original interiors have been sensitively preserved.
Three of my team members are vegan or pescatarian so on our last evening we headed to YEARS in Sham Shui Po where I unexpectedly had the best fake-meat meal I’ve ever tasted. It gave me hope for a tasty and more humane future!
I don’t have anything particularly smart or insightful to say about the place Hong Kong finds itself in now but I’m happy it’s reopened; bruised but very much alive. I strongly recommend reading Indelible City by Louisa Lim for a fascinating look at the city through the eyes of its own people.