Today’s Hong Kong: unique blend of Eastern, Western cultures

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July 7, 2012 – July 1 marked the 15th anniversary of the transfer of Hong Kong from Britain to China, making Hong Kong one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People’s Republic of China (the other is Macau, located across the Pearl River delta from Hong Kong). The city is celebrating the anniversary with events ranging from concerts to dragon-dance parades, all adding to the energy of this fascinating city.

Since the transfer, Hong Kong’s unique blend of Eastern and Western cultures (it was part of the British Empire for most of the time from 1842 until 1997) has been maintained through the practice of “one country, two systems.” Hong Kong has its own political system and judiciary, and a high degree of autonomy in most areas of governance and operations.  It remains a global financial center, a retail wonderland, and a place where you can enjoy dim sum and English high tea in the same afternoon.

Hong Kong, while densely (and vertically) populated, is also a place of extreme natural beauty. Take the tram to the top of Victoria Mountain for a breathtaking view of the city and harbor below. Hong Kong’s harbor is busy and interesting during the day, with all sorts of traditional and modern watercraft at work. But, the best time to cruise the harbor is at night, when the impressive skyscrapers are lit up by a fabulous light show.

If you’re traveling to Hong Kong soon, note that some 15th anniversary events will continue into fall. For example, the Museum of Art’s special exhibit on Emperor Qianlong will run through October 14. The display includes treasures from Beijing’s Forbidden City, most of them collected by the Emperor himself.

Hong Kong’s luxury hotels are a treat to visit at any time of year. The elegant Peninsula Hotel is known for its Rolls Royce limousines, white-gloved bellboys and high tea, complete with cucumber sandwiches and other English delicacies.

The luxurious new Ritz-Carlton Hotel has the distinction of being the world’s highest: it occupies floors 102 to 118 of the International Commerce Center. The hotel’s height gives it unmatched views of the city, the harbor and beyond. While each guest room has a spectacular view, you can also check out the panorama from the Club Lounge or one of the six restaurants.

To make your Hong Kong travel arrangements, talk with your travel professional.

Robbert van Bloemendaal, Blue Ribbon News special contributor and world traveler

This travel column was written by special contributor Robbert van Bloemendaal, an experienced world traveler, native of Australia, an Ambassador with the Rowlett Chamber of Commerce, and president of  Travel Leaders of Rowlett.

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