When I was en route to Shanghai a couple weeks ago, I had a 36-hour layover in Hong Kong. Since it was the first time I’d been alone in the city since 1998, I wasted no time revisiting some places from my past I hadn’t seen in 18 years.
I stayed at the Regal Oriental in Kowloon City, across from the old Kai Tak Airport. The foreground used to be part of the old airport.
I used to pass this hotel every time I went to the airport either to fly somewhere or to take family and friends there by bus. There isn’t a subway station–yet–so it’s only reachable by bus or minibus.
The area around the hotel is bustling with Thai restaurants, dessert cafes, and other restaurants and shops. I love old store front buildings that hang over the sidewalk to provide shade. Kowloon City still has remnants of these old buildings. Note the pillars with the Chinese characters in the photo below and the grey building in the one after that.
After walking around this area for a bit, I headed down Prince Edward Road toward Ma Tau Wai, another district in Kowloon City.
This park is famous for an old boulder dating from the Song Dynasty (late 13th century), way before Hong Kong became a British colony.
Near the park and at the end of the area that marked the old airport is this cool control tower-themed apartment building.
Walking down Ma Tau Wai Road, I found myself surrounded by the round corner buildings I love so much in Hong Kong.
I love them all!
After I walked back up toward my hotel, I turned west on Argyle Street in search of the grounds of the Vietnamese refugee camp where I volunteered 25 years ago. I’ve heard there isn’t even a marker to indicate where the camp (former WWII POW camp, too) used to stand. So I had to rely on very old memories to figure out where I used to go every week for six months.
I walked up and down this street, but found nothing from the camp. The area looked familiar, but that was about it.
Back to the hotel. The rooms have been updated, but the lounge on the top floor may not have been. I imagine people sitting here looking over at the planes taking off and landing before the airport closed in the summer of 1998.
I also headed out to Shatin, where I used to hang out in college and grad school. I went back to the mall there and almost didn’t recognize it. It’s completely changed and there was nothing photo-worthy about it.
Besides walking around these familiar places from 20-25 years ago, I also met very close friends from my first year in Hong Kong 25 years ago. That day couldn’t have been any better.