We took the ferry over to the Kowloon side of Victoria Harbour a couple of times during our Hong Kong trip (see here). This former outpost of the Chinese mainland in colonial times is now reinventing itself as a tourist destination. It is a fascinating place to visit though not always the prettiest.
The ferry takes you across to Tsim Sha Tsui where a bustling waterfront and new arts complex greet you. We did a questionnaire for some school children out on an excursion – they were excited to practice their English with a couple from Australia! Somewhere in a Kowloon or Hong Kong classroom there must now be a picture of Monsieur and me on the wall as part of the kids’ assignment!
We wandered up one of the main streets, Canton Road, surrounded by a myriad of people, office workers – it was packed and extremely busy. The streets were lined with all the high end shops you could possibly imagine – Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Chanel to name just a few. However the place was in a state of flux and rebuilding – cranes and orange and white road bollards were everywhere. We didn’t have to look too far to see the poorer side of Hong Kong. Tower blocks with crumbling paint and in states of disrepair dominate the skyline. We were astonished that they were still upright.
There are numerous small streets with little shops selling all manner of food, delicacies and trinkets. The best time to come though is to see the famous night markets, the Temple Street Night Markets, which are a hive of activity after dusk. I’m reliably informed they are well worth a visit but for us this will have to wait for another day though we did explore the night markets on the Hong Kong side (see here).
At the end of the high street we skirted round the remains of the infamous Kowloon Walled City. Leased to the Hong Kong British Colony by the Chinese Mainland in the late 19th century it was once an infamous maze of seedy streets, opium dens, crime and prostitution. It was virtually a no-go zone and later controlled by Triad gangs in the 1950s to 70s. After much deliberation and debate it was finally demolished in 1993 and replaced with the new Kowloon Walled City Park. Beneath the skyscrapers and flyover you can just see the old walls peaking out across the road.
We didn’t go into the Kowloon Park itself but found instead the King George V Memorial Park not too far away. It was like many places we found in Hong Kong – a quiet oasis away from the noise and bustle of the city streets.
Kowloon is well connected not only by the ferry but also by road and the rail network, the MTR. It does take a bit of negotiating but is a quick and efficient way to get round Hong Kong and its environs.
All in all I was glad that we decided after some debate to stay on the Hong Kong side but it is well worth taking a look round Kowloon for another perspective. The markets and the museums that are housed in Kowloon are worth taking a trip across the harbour. Next week though we’re heading off to the Maritime Museum back on Hong Kong Island – one of the highlights of our trip!
Copyright © 2018 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved