Imagine waking at 8 a.m. to the unfamiliar roar of hellfire distant booms. It's December 8, 1941. A few hours earlier, Japanese forces had launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, and the day before, Hong Kong was abuzz with holiday excitement. Christmas was approaching. Trees were in living rooms, presents were gathering underneath.
In Part I of the Wan Chai Heritage Trail, we touched on the tour's architectural highlights. There is, however, another element to the trail. Traditional sites are often an official location where political, military, religious, or social history is preserved due to their cultural and historical relevance.
In that long ago, somewhere in the whispers of a former world, Wan Chai was the first home to Chinese villagers living along the undisturbed coastlines of Victoria Harbour. The quaint little village is unrecognizable today, but as one of Hong Kong's earliest settlements, Wan Chai has a fascinating history with buildings from different periods scattered about the district.
What of this lush urban oasis? A bustling metropolis, tranquility of nature, neon-lit, east-west, frantic lives lived in overdrive. The most extraordinary thing about Hong Kong is its ability to transform itself from concrete jungle to pristine nature, seemingly within minutes. One of the most popular destinations to experience said transformation is Lamma Island.
It's no secret that big cities have a mental health problem. No doubt the frenetic pace, always-on culture, gridlocked roads and jam-packed subways all play a role. Studies have shown that incidences of depression are 20% higher among city-dwellers than those who live outside the city. Add to that the ongoing COVID-19 global health pandemic and a looming economic crisis and you have a recipe for a potential mental health crisis. But I have a secret weapon that helps keep me sane: trail running.
Fast-paced, bustling, and always on the go— they say a New York minute is equal to a Hong Kong second. The city is no stranger to the hectic demands of the corporate world. Revered as one of the biggest financial hubs in Asia, Hong Kong is home to hundreds of sizable businesses, banking institutions, and multinational corporations.
For the longest time, Kennedy Town or K-Town (not Koreatown or Kenosha, Wisconsin) was an almost mythical seaside locale. With enough distance from major commercial hubs without any convenient transportation links to brandish local mindsets with plenty of "Oh, man. That's way too far," excuses. Today, this major transport artery allows more people-Qi to flow through the Western District, and K-Town has become a go-to dining destination in recent years. Here are some of the best eateries to check out next time you head down to K-Town for some seaside contemplation.
Cheung Chau is an outlying island 10 kilometers southwest of Hong Kong Island. Literally 'Long Island' (長洲) in Cantonese but nicknamed 'Dumbell Island' (啞鈴島) due to its perceived shape – in truth, it's more of a blurry cartoon running man. Perceptions of form aside, Cheung Chau is perhaps the least known of the more famous island destinations in the city, the others being Lantau and Lamma. It's just as easy to get to via ordinary and fast ferry options from Central Pier 5 on HK Island and even other island piers like Mui Wo on Lantau and Peng Chau.
For over a century, Kennedy Town remained in sleepy isolation. A new MTR station in 2014 opened the gentrification floodgates, finally, blossoming from seedy colonial underbelly to world city district.