Hong Kong | Building Porn, Ghosts & Hong Kong History

Being hot and humid during Typhoon season, I was looking for a mixture of out- and indoor activities during my latest trip to Asia´s world city. And found myself searching for the coolest Chinese cemetery, one of the most photographed buildings in the whole world and a trip back in time through Hong Kong´s varied history.

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The weather forecast had actually been more than chastening when I packed for my two days trip: Day temperatures around 30 degrees celsius and lots of rain and thunderstorms. If you have Hong Kong on your travel schedule in September, make sure to bring lots of t-shirts to change into, an umbrella and definitely a sweater for those extremely chilled building insides.

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I was prepared for the worst and had actually planned for a layover full of indoor activities such as a museum and trampoline park visit, or trying out one of the local´s highly popular escape room pass-time games.

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In the end, it was only on arrival´s day that it poured down. But the humidity almost killed me. Though that did not keep me away from checking out these three truly cool hotspots.

 

Hong Kong Museum of History

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Founded originally back in 1962 as a city museum and art gallery, the current location in Kowloon´s Tsim Sha Tsui district was established in 1998. Closed on Tuesdays, the museum covers an extensive exhibition about the history of Hong Kong. From the early beginnings about 400 million years ago to the reunification with mainland China back in 1997, it is a very interesting walkabout that takes you through neatly decorated scenes of traditional Chinese culture and that gives great insight into local traditions and customs. The admission is free and it is definitely a great place to learn something new even if it is not raining outside. The current (September 2017) special exhibition showcases wonderful artifacts from the time of Emperor dynasties and costs 20 HKG$ (2,50€)! If you enjoy handcrafted Chinese treasures, a definite must see!

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Tsuen Wan Cemetery

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Located in the Tseun Wan district about 30 minutes by metro from Hong Kong Island (Kwai Fong station), the permanent cemetery was just recently featured as a filming location in the blockbuster movie “The Ghost in the Shell” with Scarlett Johansson. It is a little foot walk over there from the metro, but the cascade layout with the tombstones sitting on several terraces lining up the rock that the cemetery stands on is absolutely worth a visit. It was around noon when I came here and it was completely windless. The air was so humid and hot, that I was soaked without even moving. Normally being not a big fitness deal at all, walking up the stairs to the top of the rock seemed almost like an unbearable obstacle to overcome. My shirt was completely wet when I reached the top (thank god I always carry a second one in my backpack), but the panoramic view onto the Tsuen Wan skyline and the cemetery itself were absolutely magical. I was almost all by myself. Just a huge number (maybe 40 or 50) of dragon-flies were dancing in the air above me. Some were curiously coming closer just as if they were trying to find out who happened to pay visit here and it almost felt like that they were the friendly souls of long departed bodies welcoming me to their new home. What I did not know was that I actually did pick the Day of the Chinese Ghost Festival (Zhongyuan) for my excursion which is believed to be the day when the gates to the other world open, allowing spirits to cross the borders. My co-worker Hui told me later on, that very religious Chinese people do not leave the house in the evenings of that particular day (September 5th). It did feel a little weird knowing this afterwards, I have to admit, but I did not feel any negative energy while I was walking around. Quite the reverse.

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Yick Cheong Building

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Also referred to as the “Monster Building“, this impressive cube-piled residential complex is only a short walk away from the Kwai Fong metro station in Quarry Bay. It has been a film set for various hit movies and is probably one of the world´s most popular architectural structures photographed. I remember having seen photos of it in magazines when I was a child, so it was more than clear that I had to see this amazing place myself. The building features a small interior courtyard which opens up to a one-of-a-kind bottom-to-top view that has been snapshotted by some of the world´s most prestigious photographers and it truly is an almost surreal structure that reminds some people of the legendary Kowloon Walled City.

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If you are looking for the ultimate Afternoon Tea location, check out my latest post about the Ritz-Carlton inside the world´s seventh tallest skyscraper with unparalleled views over Victoria Harbor. As always, my time in Hong Kong passed like nothing and I truly cannot wait to be back for my next city exploration in one of the world´s most exciting and thrilling metropoles there is.

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