Smart Travels 香港行 (5-6)

There are different kinds of natural forces and energies in our environment. We call these natural forces or energies the chi.

Most Hong Kong Chinese believe in aligning walls, furniture, and objects to create a natural flow of energy through their houses. I was curious about Chinese Medicine, so I signed up for a workshop with an herbalist.

In Chinese medicine, everything is considered to have the characteristics of either yin or yang. For example, herbs that are of cold and cool nature are regarded as yin medicines. And herbs that are of hot in nature are regarded as yang medicines.

According to this tradition, human organs and tissues also have attributes of yin and yang. When these forces are out of balance, a person will develop symptoms of disease. Certain herbs are thought to restore harmony.

A legacy of shipping and trade have made Hong Kong the city it is today. An interesting place to learn about South China’s seafaring past is the Maritime Museum in Stanley. Hong Kong’s deep and protected harbor has beckoned vessels since ancient times. But in the 20th century, the shipping industry mushroomed. In 1900, an estimated 11,000 ships docked here. Within 10 years, that number had doubled. Hong Kong continues to impress the business world with its import export prowess.

The single most fascinating thing is probably a present-day statistic that Hong Kong’s little Kwai Tsing container port, about a kilometer by a kilometer and a half, has the annual throughput capacity of every single container port of the west coast of the USA put together.

No question, this maritime muscle is not to be trifled with.

Yes, it’s hard for folk to know how big, a really big ship is, and to show them. We took Hong Kong’s tallest building, 420 meters, 86 stories, and stood the world’s largest ship on its stern right next door to it. Big ships are very, very big.

All of the commerce rolling through this port creates plenty of demand for high-end hotels. While Hong Kong is generally inexpensive, hotel costs are on par with major American and European cities. The hottest new place to stay is the Landmark Mandarin Oriental with a great location right in the middle of the central shopping district. The state-of-the-art rooms have sophisticated electronics as well as marble baths. And the oriental spa offers the ultimate in relaxation.

Visitors who anticipate nothing but shopping and crowds are often surprised at Hong Kong’s abundance of open space and natural beauty. If you’re willing to explore beyond the high-rise jungle of downtown, you’ll discover that much of the region is made up of rural countryside and unspoiled coastline.

There are plenty of easy day trips. We are checking out Sai Kung, an enormous country park popular with locals, as well as the culturally rich island of Lantau. Before 1970 Sai Kung Park was a remote area that could only be reached by foot or on ferry. Then development of a huge new reservoir brought in several roads and opened up easy recreation for Hong Kong’s workaholic residents. Relatively unknown by tourists, the park can be reached by a 20-minute taxi ride or by local bus.

Located near the edge of the park, the town of Sai Kung is a busy marketplace and convenient gathering spot for fishermen and local villagers. You can easily hire a sampan boat and take a relaxing ride through the serene waterways. Looking at these little islands, it’s easy to imagine how Hong Kong Island itself must have looked before the British took control in 1842. For thousands of years, this was a quite, remote corner of China, occupied by small settlements of fishermen and farmers, and the occasional band of pirates.


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