Gatwick announces new flight service to Hong Kong and there are lots of exciting things to do once you get there…
Gatwick Airport announced yesterday (10 th November 2011) that it is to begin operating a non-stop daily service between Gatwick and Hong Kong from March 2012.
The move will give more travel options for businesses looking to explore opportunities in this emerging Far Eastern economy and will also appeal to holiday makers attracted to fast-paced cities with rich historical backgrounds.
Stress, it is true, can sometimes be associated with Hong Kong’s pace of life. Famous TV travel correspondent Alan Whicker, writing in the Daily Mail’s Travel Section in 2010, described Hong Kong as “fast, noisy and heartless” but actually lists Hong Kong as one of his favourite holiday destinations.
Whicker refers to Hong Kong as “a floating Manhattan” and is impressed by the way ‘she’ re-invents itself every few years, “adapting to new masters, new neighbours and new mores”.
Brief history of Hong Kong
The British Empire was one of Hong Kong’s recent masters, colonising the region after the First Opium War of 1839 to 1842. Apart from a period of Japanese occupation at the end of the Second World War, Hong Kong remained in British hands until 1997 when China regained control.
The handover ceremony was certainly memorable; with TV cameras lingering on Prince Charles, Tony Blair and tearful Governor of Hong Kong Chris Patten as the Union Jack was lowered and fireworks illuminated the skies.
“China will get the biggest dowry since Cleopatra,” Governor Patten said, adding, “We shall not forget you”.
Britain really hasn’t forgotten Hong Kong; there’s so much to do there…
Things to do in Hong Kong
- Travel up Victoria Peak
The best place to get an overview of Hong Kong is from Victoria Peak – the highest point in Hong Kong. The panorama from the peak features a jagged skyline of skyscrapers, boats dotted around pretty Victoria harbour and, on the outskirts of the city, mountains and sandy beaches where dolphins frolic in a world far removed from business pressures.
- Visit the world’s tallest hotel
If you do get the chance, don’t turn down the opportunity to visit the top floor of the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong – but try to take the lift rather than the stairs; the restaurant which is the hotel’s crowning glory is located on the building’s 118 th floor!
You might struggle to find the fourth floor; the number four is considered unlucky in China as it sounds like the Chinese word for “die”. This is why many Hong Kong buildings ‘miss out’ the fourth floor by not including it on signs and lift buttons.
- Watch the Rugby Sevens
While four might be an unlucky number in Hong Kong, seven certainly isn’t. The Hong Kong Rugby Sevens international tournament is held annually in the city in the last weekend of March (though in 2012 it will be held from 23 rd to 25 th March).
The competition with a friendly carnival-style atmosphere is the highlight of Hong Kong’s sporting calendar and attracts all the major rugby nations. With a greater emphasis on handling skills than the 15-man version of the sport, so-called lesser rugby nations often upset the bigger rugby nations.
Rugby ‘minnows’ Fiji have won the tournament nine times while humble Samoa has triumphed on three occasions. Even England has ended up on the honours board four times!
- Worship film history
Hong Kong cinema has produced many notable actors and martial artists, including Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Li. Its buildings also make superb filming locations.
The Man Mo Temple is one such building; it is also a reminder that people in Hong Kong don’t just worship commerce. The temple’s candle-lit main room featured in the 1960 film The World of Suzie Wong, which starred William Holden.
- Take the Kowloon Star Ferry and see the lights
The last word should go to Alan Whicker, who calls the ferry trip to the peninsula area of Kowloon “one of the most dramatic, scenic international journeys in the world. And certainly the cheapest too!”
The rickety 121-year-old ferry transports a mixture of blasé high-flying bankers and awe-struck tourists (marvelling at the sight of Hong Kong’s jagged skyline) across the Harbour each day.
If you find yourself on the ferry at 8pm you could well see the nightly Symphony of Lights – a synchronised display involving 40 of Hong Kong’s most beautiful buildings; playfully flickering and winking their lights as if to lure visitors into the heart of this seductive city.
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