A huge container ship steams majestically by leaving a sampan wallowing in its wake. Russet sails begin to unfurl on a triple masted junk. High-speed launches, ferries, and catamarans all flash past in soaring showers of spray. The craft of every shape and size crisscross randomly in this intricate aquatic ballet. But as shades of purple and indigo begin to darken the Hong Kong sky the harbor assumes a more placid face. A constellation of lights illuminates the surrounding shoreline with a thousand glittering reflections. The waters are still at last.

Hong Kong explodes at night like a Chinese firecracker with brilliant color and noise. Tides of humanity ebb and flow beneath a maze of television antennae and washing lines. Neon signs transform the skyline into a dazzling jigsaw of lights. In shops and markets, people chatter animatedly bargaining for produce, jewelry, fabrics, toys, or a thousand other items, their voices adding lyrics to the vibrant rhythm of life.

The Lan Kwai Fong district located in central Hong Kong between Sheung Wan and Causeway Bay has long been established as the trendiest nighttime hangout for the young and successful. Formerly a flower market it is equally renowned for its upmarket international restaurants and discos. One can wander the cobbled streets partaking of liquid and culinary delights knowing that something equally exciting and different awaits next door.

Shopping in Hong Kong is a thrilling experience. Antique shops, arts and crafts emporiums, numerous markets, or the glitzy department stores of Hollywood Road and Cat Street all offer their own unique merchandise. In the tangled maze of the markets, fortune-tellers, hairdressers, jade merchants, songbirds, and porcelain vendors all vie for attention. Dried fish and poultry hang forlornly, octopi and squid are displayed in squelchy tangles of grey and white.

Electrical items, wicker chairs, and baskets are a tumble of diverse temptations, alongside more than thirty varieties of ginseng and other Chinese herbs displayed in glass jars.

But there is more to Heung Keung (Fragrant Harbour) than just shopping. Museums, historic sites, art galleries, pagodas, Chinese operas, discos, sports, nightclubs, exotic food – Hong Kong has it all. By the year 2005 Hong Kong will also boast a huge, state of the art Disney Theme Park.

Victoria Peak is a great place to commence sightseeing. The Peak Tram, which has shuttled passengers up the near-vertical climb since 1888, still exudes an air of Victorian solidity and elegance. From the 1,000-foot summit one can gaze out over a mass of skyscrapers to Kowloon, Lantau Island, and the New Territories, which together with the Outlying Islands make up Hong Kong, situated on the southeast coast of China at the mouth of the Pearl River, Hong Kong is home to six million people, 98 percent of whom are ethnic Chinese. Kowloon Peninsular is home to the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, the Space Museum and the Museum of History, and the vast shopping complex of Harbour City. Kowloon, which means Nine Dragons, is a vibrant part of the city with a maze of restaurants, bars, hotels, and cinemas scattered along Nathan Road.

Hong Kong archipelago consists of two hundred and thirty-five islands. Some are little more than a few rugged rocks jutting from the ocean. One not to be missed is Lantau Island, site of the new international airports. Lantau is twice the size of Hong Kong Island and is a breathtaking land of green mountains, swirling mists, surreal monasteries, and temples. In all Lantau boasts 135 monasteries, one of which, Po Lin, stands 2,500 feet above sea level. Here the world’s tallest outdoor bronze Buddha gazes serenely over the surrounding valleys.

Lantau’s small neighbor Cheung Chau has around 20,000 residents, many of whom are part of thriving fishing communities. Once a shadowy haunt for smugglers and pirates, the island is now home to a vibrant society of artists, filmmakers, musicians, and writers. Some excellent beaches are to be found along the southern coast. Peng Chau Island is much quieter with a number of excellent porcelain factories, few motor vehicles, and narrow, twisting streets where superb restaurants are the main attraction. Lamma Island is Hong Kong’s third-largest and home to the spectacular Dragon Boat Race.

The New Territories is a region of extraordinary beauty. In the Sai Kung district, a number of hiking trails take the visitor through magnificent scenery. The Tai Long Wan district further to the east unveils a surprising landscape of pristine beauty and a rugged, unspoiled coastline.

Hong Kong is the gateway to Mainland China and Macau. It is also home to some of the best entertainment, shopping, hotels, and restaurants anywhere in the world. Just about every tourist brochure one picks up nowadays trumpets old hackneyed phrases such as “A place like no other!” But those who are fortunate enough to visit the ‘City of Life’ will find that here these words possess an intrinsic truth.

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