Hong Kong (Xiānggǎng; 香港)

What is Hong Kong? It’s a question that many artists, directors, writers and politicians have struggled to answer.

In a very broad sense, Hong Kong is a city of duality, an at-times schizophrenic place that is both Western and Chinese. On one side of the Harbour, British pubs blare rugby matches to their Western clientele, while across the water, lounges populated by lunching Chinese croon with singers belting out traditional Cantonese Opera. All the while, over on Graham Street, you can eat snake soup in one restaurant and Yorkshire pudding in another.

Yet, while there is a clear difference between the communities within the dried seafood-lined streets of the Western District and those of expat havens like Discovery Bay, Hong Kong has absorbed much of what the British brought and created a fusion of cultures that isn’t Chinese or Western, but something else altogether. The tea and food halls (cha chaan teng; 茶餐廳), serving cheap meals of sandwiches, noodles, fried rice and curries, are the result of Hong Kongese combining Chinese and Western style cooking. Local musicians sing Chinese lyrics over Western melodies, while local Triad films blend the furious action of talented Chinese martial artists with Western-style “cops-n-robbers” crime action. Ancient rituals and festivals dance down Hollywood Road as trams whiz up historical mountains and subways roar below incense-filled temples, mingling a swirl of old and new into a unique local culture.

But it’s more than just a juxtaposition of Western and Chinese cultures that defines Hong Kong. Truly, this city of multiplicity has so many fascinating characteristics born from countless corners of the world it eludes definition. Whether you’re into soaring skyscrapers, country villages, Muslim prayer sessions, dim sum, tango, haggling for a new suit, catching a cricket match, having some deer penis wine along with your whiskey or discovering bizarre dried sea creatures, Hong Kong has more than enough for everyone within its dazzling energy.

A poll once attempted to discover whether Hong Kongers felt more Chinese or Western. Their ultimate answer? “Neither – Hong Kongese.” In the end, the only answer to the question “What is Hong Kong?” is the one you find out for yourself. So get pumped, start packing those bags and come discover what Hong Kong is to you. One thing we guarantee: you will have a blast!