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Hongkong Overview

Hongkong (Heung Gong in Cantonese, Xianggang in Mandarin, meaning "fragrant harbor") has the big city specials like smog, odor, 7 million elbows and an insane love of clatter and the city. But it's also efficient, hushed and peaceful: the transport network is excellent, the shopping centers are sublime which sell donkey outfits, the cuisine is legendary, and the temples and quiet corners of parks are contemplative oases.

The best thing about being in Hong Kong is getting flummoxed and fired by the confluences and contradictions of a Chinese city with multi-Asian and Western elements. It's about savoring new tastes, weaving through human gridlock and humming some dumb Cantopop tune while slurping your noodles.

From the vantage point of Victoria Peak , overlooking the world's busiest deepwater port, you can see a city geared not only to making money but feeling good about it. At night, it's like looking down into a volcano.

Despite its British colonial past, Hong Kong has always stuck to its roots, and the culture beneath the glitz is pure Chinese.  That didn't stop locals from feeling apprehensive about being reunited with the motherland when the British handed the colony to the People's Republic of China in early 1997, but their unease has largely evaporated.

Hong Kong is divided into four main areas - Kowloon , Hong Kong Island , the New Territories and the Outlying Islands . Kowloon and the New Territories are on a peninsula of the Chinese mainland, on the northern side of Victoria Harbor ; Hong Kong Island is on the southern side of the harbor facing Kowloon .

The city itself is centered around Victoria Harbor . The main business district is Central, on Hong Kong Island . East of Central lies the Admiralty commercial district; Wan Chai, known for restaurants and clubs; then Causeway Bay , a major shopping area. Towering above it all is the Peak, Hong Kong 's premier scenic outlook and residential district, which happily has plenty of public green space. In Kowloon , Tsim Sha Tsui (on the southern tip), Jordan and Yau Ma Tei are busy hotel and shopping areas, while Mong Kok is a bustling residential and shopping area.

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