I hate Hong Kong: A conflicted: love/hate relationship with my mistress


hong kong island at night

I hate Hong Kong, or I did, years ago.

This is one of the most common photographs taken in Asia. Every night of the week sees professional photographers, and people like me, with tripods set up on Avenue of the Stars in Kowloon, their lenses trained on the bright lights of Hong Kong Island.

How could you not take this photo? The clouds roll in from Victoria Peak, covering the skyscrapers. The phallic IFC2 building spotlights the sky. It’s freakish. It’s mysterious. It’s gaudy beauty. There are dozens of colorful metaphors I could use.

I hate you, Hong Kong. On your streets I feel like an adulterous husband sneaking guiltily around. How could I love the bastard child of opium-laced British Imperialism? I hate you, Hong Kong, and Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon, Central, Wan Chai, and Causeway Bay.

But this photo: I can almost forget about the bitter expats that fill your bars and the fact Jackie Chan is still allowed to make films. This scene: That is why I love you.

And hate you.

Update: This was written in the year that I loathed Hong Kong. Now I call Hong Kong home. Over the years my outright hatred softened until I learned to love the world’s greatest city. From vibrant central to the more sedate Sheung Shui – I love it all.

30 Comments Add yours

  1. Jennifer says:

    It’s breath-taking.

    Jennifers last blog post..Sometimes, I am lonely.

  2. Shawn W says:

    Oh! This one I understand completely!
    The Dallas area is hot, sticky, dusty, and crowded. The traffic is horrible, and living here is expensive. But the sight of the Dallas skyline will always mean I’m home.

    It’s beautiful, Stevo. How could you not love it?

    Shawn Ws last blog post..The Atomic Fur-Ball

  3. Ron In L.A. says:

    Nice shot Stevo but I can completely understand why you wouldn’t want to capture it. It’s almost too easy.

    R(etc… )

  4. cfimages says:

    So you sprung for a 40D?

    cfimagess last blog post..Catch of the Day

  5. The last time I was in Hong Kong was in 1983. I certainly don’t remember anything about it. 🙂

    RT Cunningham | Jollibee Philippiness last blog post..Jollibee: Another Philippines Success Story

  6. Stevo says:

    Jennifer: Thank you kindly.

    Shawn: It’s nice to know someone in the same boat.

    Ron: Maybe if I took it from a ferry in the middle of the harbor the easiness factor would be removed?

    Craig: In fact I did. Picked it up a week ago. Love it.

  7. I like it. Always love that sight. I love the dancing lights. Even Mr. Andie thinks that’s too superficial for his taste.

  8. What the hell have you been doing out there anyway?

    Wanda Rizzutos last blog post..A Few Words About Dingos And Some Other Stuff

  9. Stevo says:

    Andie: It is something to see.

    Wanda: Business, baby. TC of B.

  10. HeyJules says:

    What a beautiful image, Stevo. The mood you invoked with this image is breathtaking.

    HeyJuless last blog post..Crystal Ball

  11. It looks so cool, great shot!
    Someday I’ll get to visit, hopefully… It looks amazing.

  12. Stevo says:

    DLD: Welcome and thank you!

    Stevos last blog post..conflicted: a love/hate relationship with my mistress

  13. Unguided says:

    Have not been too many Asian cities but been to Hong Kong. It is one of the few cities that I have felt at home. An organized Istanbul, perhaps.

    Unguideds last blog post..What Makes the Internet Tick?

  14. Durbanbay says:

    For me its only love! Hong Kong is a great city. I am always glad to go back. Will be back there soon. I never get tired of that skyline and love to see it from the Peak too. I can’t wait to get back in September.

    Hope you enjoy,

    Durbanbays last blog post..New Zealand 04 – The Pictorial

  15. Justin says:

    That is an awesome shot! I have seen a lot of them very similar, but I can see why. I have never been to Hong Kong, but hope to make it there in the near future!

  16. Gary says:

    I took that photo too. I think sunset on the harbor in Kowloon was one of the coolest things I’ve seen on my trip.

    Garys last blog post..Cya Coober Pedy

  17. ybonesy says:

    I love the photo, too, but even more so with the text you wrote to go with it. It makes the photo more meaningful.

  18. Robin says:

    It’s a glorious scene, that’s for sure. You captured it brilliantly in words and with your camera.

    Robins last blog post..Sanctuary

  19. Stevo says:

    HeyJules: Merci.

    DLD: It is quite a site.

    Unguided: That’s an interesting comparison.

    DurbanBay: I have never been to the peak at night. I’ll have to give it a try.

    Justin: Let me know if you get there, we can meet up.

    Gary: I missed sunset, I’ll try next time.

    yb: Thanks.

    Robin: 谢谢

  20. I got the 40D too, and I love it. It’s amazing how well it will handle most situations.

    Great pic, it’s completely worth 10 Jackie Chan movies.

  21. Carrie says:

    Awesome capture and an extremely well-written post. It was worth the wait!

  22. OmbudsBen says:

    Some of the most amazing cosmopolitan areas are vital and unique because of their multticultural backgrounds, no?

    OmbudsBen´s last blog post..Glimpses of the Magic Kingdom

  23. allen says:

    the phallic building’s actually called IFC2

  24. Stevo says:

    Christine: Thanks, the 40D is great.

    Carrie: Thanks.

    Ben: Yes, but it’s the “superiority” of Hong Kongers that gives me problems.

    Allen: Thank you for that. Correction made.

  25. Edita says:

    Oh, I love Hongkong! I love that view Steve. Like you, I was capturing the views and sights every day and night I was in Hongkong – without the tripod. Hongkong is my kind of city. Everything is there…accessible, affordable, classy, foodsy (foodsy?), fun, diverse. I love shopping there…the big shops, the small stalls. The expensive restaurants..and the small vendors. You captured that breath-taking view of Hongkong lights. And ..the light show…every night at 8pm — it is like going to the fair.

    Keep up the good work – and the photos.

    (Edita) –

    Edita´s last blog post..Air Travel Guide to Best Travel Deals and Flights

  26. Stevo says:

    Edita: Thanks. I don’t know if you can call Hong Kong affordable…

  27. Rebecca says:

    I’ve been to Hong Kong. I lived in Tehran at that time, so Hong Kong was a little haven for me. If we think of it in terms of an Amusement Park rather than an incomplete fill-in-the-blank destination, it becomes much easier to hold it in some esteem. Your photo is beautiful, BTW, because of your “take” at that moment. If more people “hated” Honk Kong it seems as if it would become a better place, somehow.

  28. Wonderful picture. Is Kowloon home to the the walled city?
    .-= Joseph Condron´s last blog ..Love-Hate TV Review- Cutting-Edge Irish Drama That Shows The True Side Of Crime =-.

  29. Glad you learned to love Hong Kong. Make sure to stay fit and in shape.

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