Exploring Fine China – part 3

Greg Whitton travelled with us to China late last year and took some amazing pictures. Here’s the last of his three blogs, with a stunning photo of  Hong Kong as night falls over the city. See more of Greg’s work at gregwhittonphotography.com.

China - Darkness Falls, City Wakes

In complete contrast to the remote location of the Dragon’s Backbone, Hong Kong at the end of the Fine China tour is a juggernaut of a city, not so much in land area, but in how much is crammed in! I lived in Hong Kong for a while as a child so I was so excited to go back and immediately it felt familiar and welcoming when we arrived after our overnight train journey from Guilin. There is something about Hong Kong that gets under your skin. Ok, I forgot just how humid it can be, just walking across the street can induce enough sweat to fill a swimming pool, but apart from that, if you want to shop, in my opinion there is nowhere on Earth which has as much choice. It isn’t quite the bargain hunter’s paradise it used to be, prices are now almost equal with Western cities for most things (although food and public transport remains cheap or at least reasonable), but if you want a $1m Bugatti Veyron…hey there is one here for sale, a $5m diamond encrusted Tiara…yes, there are ten over there in different sizes, or if you just want to shop for a $2 Silk Tie, there are thousands down that street…well, you get my drift.

Considering all of the words you could use to describe a city such as Hong Kong, ‘incredible’, ‘crazy’, ‘amazing’, ‘exotic’, ‘frenetic’, etc, nothing really can give you a sense more than the view across Victoria Harbour from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island itself. The sheer drama of the skyscrapers makes them seem almost alive, and surprisingly they feel close, very close. When they light up, they almost feel like they are each playing a part in a technological ballet. This image was captured at dusk, when the majority of the lights had come on, but when there was still enough natural light to clearly see the hills that dominate the centre of the Island. For me, this scene encapsulates everything that Hong Kong is and everything that China wants to be.

A quick word about Shanghai. As part of the Fine China tour, you can finish here if you don’t fancy Hong Kong. We decided to get the best of both worlds and did Shanghai afterwards ourselves. Shanghai is a great place to spend a couple of days, cooler when we went than the rest of China, and somewhat refreshing. Shanghai had a really nice ambiance about it, more relaxed than any of the other Chinese mainland cities we visited, but somehow more advanced. A walk along the Bund at night is an essential experience for anyone travelling to China, the view of the Pudong new financial district across the Huangpu River, with its world-beating Skyscrapers, is stunning, especially when contrasted against the colonial architecture that remains prominently on the city side of the river. Nearby are the cities of Suzhuo, and Tong Li, with their quaint (in parts) canals that resemble eastern versions of Venice and are almost certainly less busy, even by Chinese standards. Suzhuo itself is also famous for its array of Garden’s all of which are different, and all of which are worth a visit, as well as its Silk industry. If there was one city in China (except Hong Kong) that I would not hesitate to return to, it would be Shanghai, most definitely worth taking the extra time over.

Greg Whitton

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