A Creative Holiday in Hong Kong : Catherine Heath
5 April 2019
I go to Hong Kong twice a year with my family to visit my grandparents. For me, a holiday is an opportunity to get away from daily life, forget about things that stress me out, and be more creative generally. I take my Moleskine notebook with me and draw things that I see when I’m out and about in a foreign country.
Hong Kong especially is a very unique city, and I always discover more each time I go. It is an amazing mixture of towering urban architecture and green mountains. It’s also an island surrounded by the glittering blue ocean, with a subtropical climate.
Walking around the streets, you can see old and new Hong Kong mixing together to create an inspiring landscape. You can get lost in the crowds, dream over a hot drink, or try delicious exotic food – snake soup, anyone?
I'm not adventurous when it comes to eating, though. I avoid the chicken feet that are considered a delicacy here, and stick to the most western-like food possible – luckily, dim sum fits the bill.
Hong Kong street culture
It feels like there is always something to do. Hong Kong street culture is actually really inspiring because so many of the shops and restaurants are open to the outside. Sometimes the front of a shop will just be a see-through plastic curtain, and people casually sit on the street eating their food – often noodles with chopsticks. You can discover many many small restaurants and cafes selling traditional foods, all manner of teas, and it’s pretty cheap too.
People mingle and hang out in the streets, sometimes on one of the many footbridges that cross Hong Kong's busy main roads. It's fun to see all the cantonese people who are often very well-dressed and quirky. They pull off the craziest outfits that would look ridiculous at home.
The Chinese written characters are also splattered on signs and posters all over the city, more like pictures than a written language. The Chinese characters are part of the oldest and most widely used written system in the world, and reflect China’s evolving culture and history.
You'll often also see religious shrines built into the sides of buildings, even the many tower-blocks. Many buildings have nooks and crannies that are purposely created for shrines. The shrines often have candles, incense and small statues. I like how spiritual life mixes casually with the everyday hustle and bustle of the city.
Hong Kong shopping
Shopping is the main pastime in Hong Kong. The shops and cafes stay home really late so there is always something to do at night, even if that's just walking around and drinking everything in. Many shops and other businesses have resident cats, sometimes just sleeping on the counter. I really like how informal Hong Kong is even though it's such a modern, wealthy city.
My favourite place to go is the giant bookshop Eslite in Hysan Place. They've done an amazing job capturing what it feels like when you're shopping for a good book – inspiring, cultured, daring. Even though I could buy the same books online or at home, I always want to buy something from Eslite, so I can keep that feeling with me a little longer.
In my drawings, I hope to capture some of the spirit that I experience when I go to places like Hong Kong. It takes me out of my daily routine, lets me look at the same issues in a new way, and I feel more alive.
As J.R.R. Tolkien said it, “Not all those who wander are lost.”
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