Hong Kong Island, Central District, as seen from the world famous Star Ferry. The Star Ferry takes commuters and tourists alike from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon and back across Causeway Bay. In the bay, the South China Sea is pretty calm most of the time. The water is polluted, but still very blue, which is hard to tell in this picture because of the clouds.
Hong Kong Island with a Kowloon bound Star Ferry on the right hand side of the picture. As you can see, the ferries are double deckers and look kinda rickety. Earlier this century, when the British still ruled, the upper deck was reserved for First Class passengers, while the "peasants" crowded the lower decks. Now it seems everyone is automatically loaded on the top deck, while the bottom deck goes unused except during rush hour when we saw one ferry with a few people on the lower deck. Unlike litgious America, there were no signs reminding you not to jump off the ferry or the hundreds of other disclaimers an American ferry would have posted. (I got the feeling that if the ferry sunk while taking the 8 minute trip across the bay, our relatives would have been given a sympathetic memo and that would be it.) The only thing signs directed passengers not to do was throw trash in the bay or spit off the rails.
Partly obscured by the Star Ferry dock on the left side of the picture, is the Hong Kong Cultural Center. Its style brings to mind the Sydney Opera House. On top of the skyscraper in the middle-leftish of the picture, barely visible I admit, is a Philips sign. Hong Kong is known for its free market mentality and almost every tall building on Hong Kong Island has some company's name in large neon letters attached to the roof. NEC, Panasonic, Sony, Ford and Canon are just a tiny fraction of the names we recognized. At night, when the signs are lighted, it is quite a feast for the eye.
This day Causeway Bay was a bit choppier than it had been. Many ships ply this bay, as it is deep and easy to navigate. There is a floating "jumbo restaurant" that is a big attraction in the bay, not shown here. The old Chinese boats, known as junks, are also occasionally seen in the bay, but not in near the numbers they used to be. You can see how the mountains of Hong Kong Island really trap the smog in the bay (left side of picture).
Right in the midst of the skyscrapers, bank buildings, slum dwellings and shops was this beautiful Japanese inspired public park! It was quite a shock to find such an oasis of nature in the middle of the concrete jungle. In Hong Kong, the planners even pour concrete over the sides of hills where landslides might be a problem. It is bizarre to see all the paved hills on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, especially coming from a nature-oriented state.
Hong Kong is not an old city by European standards; it was a tiny, remote fishing village until 150 years ago. There are not many historical buildings in this thoroughly modern city, but the Clock Tower at the Star Ferry Terminal in Kowloon is one that has survived the ravages of time and the severe lack of space that plagues Hong Kong.