So yesterday CNNGo ran an article listing nine Hong Kong tourist traps, good and bad. I carefully combed through the list, paying particular attention to the ones they hated:
Avenue of Stars was built way after I left Hong Kong, so I wouldn’t know it anyway (it’s Hong Kong’s version of Hollywood’s Walk of Fame). They also hated the Giant Buddha and instead recommended Shatin’s Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastary. I spent five years in Shatin, so fair enough.
Next on the list were Stanley Market and Western Market.
Objection, your honor!
I love Stanley Market. And I have such fond memories of Western Market.
Well, maybe I don’t love these markets for what they sell, but the routes to reach these places are some of my favorites anywhere.
Back when I lived in Hong Kong, I boarded the number 6 Citybus to Stanley, one of the few single decker buses in its fleet, and sat along the right side so I could peer over the mountain cliff to the turquoise water below. I heard half a dozen languages on that bus and imagined I was cruising along the French Riviera.
As for Western Market, I can count on one hand the times I bought something there (a wooden mahjong set for my aunt, some paper cut-outs for friends back in the US, and a couple dim sum lunches). I know it’s no longer a typical Hong Kong market, but the building dates back to 1906 and, to me, has been restored quite beautifully. But it’s the walk from Central or the tram ride through the cramped streets to Western Market that I long for.
The tourist traps CNNGo loves include the racecourse at Happy Valley, Cat Street, Temple Street, and the Star Ferry. (Give me Cat Street’s kitschy Mao chazari and the Star Ferry and you can keep Happy Valley and Temple Street.)
And the one they can’t make up their mind about is the Peak.
Yes, the wax museum is tacky and yes, I wouldn’t go there to shop. But the peaceful pagoda overlooking the edge of the mountain, the clusters of skyscrapers below and the beautiful harbor beyond that, not to mention Kowloon and the New Territories, is a view I could never tire of.