First night in Kennedy Town

The sky looked fantastic as the plane slowly lowered for landing at Hong Kong airport. Still hovering in the air, I could see streaks of white clouds like wisps of whipped cream strewn around an aerial worktop by a sloppy confectioner. All around, the sky was livid and the ocean waters underneath also formed a rather dim backdrop.  What looked like an impenetrable layer of clouds from above, was soon pierced by the bulk of the aircraft to reveal another more earthly and familiar landscape, but not half as fairylike. The city loomed in sight, in a weather that seemed stormy.

The humidity and the heat had already announced to my sticky body that I had moved to a tropical zone, but it was upon reading typhoon alerts at various spots in town that I was brought around to the fact that the different meteorology involved phenomena unusual to me. Today the warnings were high, but when the storm eventually came, it only poured some heavy but not lasting rain and the sky soon cleared up.

I am to meet my host in Kennedy Town this evening, a district located on the western side of Hong Kong island. You first have to cross the arm of the sea that divides the Kowloon peninsula from the island and this can be done on board the Star Ferry, among other options. It leaves from an old pier that dates back to colonial times and the boat itself can’t be any younger. Passengers can board the ferry either on the lower or the upper deck and pay a slightly different fare accordingly, which is in turn raised by a further trifle over the weekend. As much as the boat itself, this fare system is a relic of an era gone-by.

Another remnant of colonial administration are the tramlines that pass from Central and lead away to the suburbs. The wobbly double-deck cars are somewhat anachronistic for their slow motion in comparison to faster buses, but are such a characteristic feature of this city, especially when they cross the jungle of soaring glass-and-steel buildings and glaring shop fronts.

I was unsure whether I would manage to wait until the evening after a long journey, but now that I am in Central I am excited at this new aspect of Hong Kong and forget about my tiredness. A.’s flat is on the 24th floor in one of the incredibly tall towers that make up large parts of Hong Kong. A warm reception makes me feel at home, even in this completely different setting.

Living units are tiny, in proportion to the huge number of city residents and the limited space available; I have the initial impression of being in a beehive, then perceive a slight uneasiness due to the awareness of being trapped on this high storey as if I were suspended in mid-air. The harbour lights glimmer in the distance, and right below the windows, a perspective of converging lines from neighbouring towers points to a minimized high street. I really feel privileged to be so kindly hosted in this nice flat and see Hong Kong from inside and… above.