When I was invited to visit a colleague at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), to present a lecture about my research, I jumped at the chance. I have visited Hong Kong once before, briefly, almost 20 years ago(!). So on this two-and-a-half day visit I was pleased to experience a bit more of this lovely city, listed as #44 on the New York Times’ list of 52 Places to Go in 2019. Read on, and check out the photo gallery.
CUHK is located in Sha Tin across the water and over the hill from the central financial district, which is on Hong Kong island. Even in this ‘suburb’ I was astonished by the number of high-rise apartment buildings – HK population is dense and housing is extremely expensive. On my first day I only had a few hours to explore, so I rode the metro/train into the city center – requiring three trains and about 45 minutes – to get a feel for the place. The train system was easy to understand, extremely efficient, and rather busy even in mid-afternoon. I had a lovely dinner with my faculty host in the hotel restaurant.
My second day was spent at CUHK meeting with faculty and students, presenting my lecture, and touring the campus. Eight faculty took me to lunch at an on-campus Dim Sum restaurant, which was a phenomenal experience. I must have tried 12 or 15 dishes.
For dinner I met up with a Dartmouth classmate, who has lived in Asia since graduation and in Hong Kong for over 15 years. He works in Hong Kong’s bustling finance industry, and hosts a regular Wednesday night dinner for his running club. This week it was at the Hong Kong Club, one of the oldest and most exclusive membership organizations in the city. Although I wasn’t quite expecting Swiss raclettes in Hong Kong, it was a wonderful meal.
On my third day I met early with a business colleague, a few stops up the rail line, and we followed my classmate’s directions up the steep streets toward Lion Rock park. Upon reaching the park we quickly found the trail to Lion Rock – although for the first one or two kilometers the ‘trail’ was really a steep sequence of concrete or stone steps. (Understandable for a heavily-used trail on a steep slope in a region prone to heavy rain.) The trail was well-maintained and, on this weekday morning, we saw only a few other hikers. (Mostly retirees out for their morning walk.) The sun was burning off the morning haze, and we reached the Lion Rock summit shortly before 10am. The view across Hong Kong – and behind us, toward CUHK – was spectacular. (See the photo at top of this post.) We continued along the ridge and then back down into the valley, where we met the city streets and headed for the metro. A lovely hike – from metro to metro = 5.2mi, 2h52m, gain 1600 feet.
Near the metro stop is the famous temple of Wang Tai Sin , surrounded by crowds of pilgrims from across China. My colleague helpfully explained the nature and purpose of this temple, and how the pilgrims were visiting to express their wishes and pray for them to come true.
After sharing tea and a small brunch, we parted ways. I was back at the hotel by noon, in time to get clean and packed and head for the airport, where I was to catch a 16-hour non-stop flight to Boston. I hope I’ll be back soon! Meanwhile, check out the photo gallery.
Some fun facts about Hong Kong, quoting from Wikipedia:
- Hong Kong became a colony of the British Empire after Qing China ceded Hong Kong Island at the end of the First Opium War in 1842.
- The colony expanded to the Kowloon Peninsula in 1860 after the Second Opium War, and was further extended when Britain obtained a 99-year lease of the New Territories in 1898.
- The territory was returned to China when the lease expired in 1997.
- As a special administrative region, Hong Kong’s system of government is separate from that of mainland China.
- Hong Kong is the world’s fourth-most-densely-populated region.
- [It] … has the longest life expectancy in the world.
- The territory has the largest number of skyscrapers in the world, most surrounding Victoria Harbour.
- It is the world’s seventh-largest trading entity.
- The Imperial Japanese Army attacked Hong Kong on 8 December 1941, the same morning as its attack on Pearl Harbor.
- By the early 1990s, Hong Kong had established itself as a global financial centre and shipping hub.
- Hong Kong was transferred to China on 1 July 1997, after 156 years of British rule.
- The Joint Declaration guarantees the Basic Law for 50 years after the transfer of sovereignty. It does not specify how Hong Kong will be governed after 2047, and the central government’s role in determining the territory’s future system of government is the subject of political debate and speculation.