After a hiatus of nearly four years, setting foot into Hong Kong SAR stirred a mix of emotions—curiosity, excitement, and a touch of apprehension. The region had experienced considerable challenges recently, including the significant social upheavals of 2019 and the subsequent onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic. Both events had profound implications for the local economy and way of life.
Speculations from various media outlets concerning the potential impact of the extended Mid-Autumn and National Day holidays on Hong Kong’s economy only intensified my uncertainties. Would my journey as a mainland tourist be met with hostility?
However, a five-day sojourn across Shenzhen, Hong Kong, and Macao reshaped these initial perceptions. The infectious enthusiasm of locals during the National Day fireworks over Victoria Harbor, the familiar comfort of Hong Kong-style milk tea, the delightful taste of freshly baked polo buns, and the bustling activity in shopping areas painted a picture of resilience. The Greater Bay Area, a sprawling metropolis that encompasses nine cities and two SARs in Southern China, was evidently reclaiming its vibrancy and putting the recent tumultuous past behind.
Transportation and commerce have also evolved. The integration within the Greater Bay Area is deepening, facilitating smoother travels with advanced self-service kiosks at customs and the widespread acceptance of e-payment platforms like WeChat and Alipay.
The pinnacle of my journey was the National Day fireworks display at Victoria Harbor—a spectacle that had been on hiatus since 2019. The skyline illuminated with breathtaking fireworks was a testament to the city’s resilience and hope. The hours of waiting were made pleasant by the panoramic views of the cityscape and the gentle autumnal breeze. The display was a feast for the senses, and the collective joy of the spectators was palpable.
Beyond the fireworks, the city offered a myriad of experiences. A ride on the historic Star Ferry presented an unparalleled view of Hong Kong’s iconic skyline. A leisurely stroll through neighborhoods like Central, Sheung Wan, Sai Ying Pun, and Wan Chai unveiled the city’s unique blend of modernity and tradition. These areas, with their timeless landmarks and streets replete with history, encapsulate the spirit of Hong Kong.
Art enthusiasts would be remiss to bypass the M+ Museum and the K11 Museum, the latter known for its unique fusion of art and commerce.
Macao, while offering a contrasting experience, was no less enchanting. Some describe it as an intoxicating mix of luxury and serenity. The Cotai Strip dazzled with its luxury resorts and shopping avenues, while the tranquil Coloane Village provided a peaceful retreat. Macao’s culinary landscape, a blend of Portuguese and Chinese influences, offered delectable treats, from the famed Portuguese egg tarts to the spicy African chicken.
In essence, Hong Kong and Macao, with their mix of bustling streets, serene corners, rich history, and modern amenities, are more than ready to welcome the world once again.