I’ve always found Hong Kong to be such a fascinating city. Don’t you agree it’s such an incredible mix of the East and West, the old and the new, the rich and the poor? A Hong Kong Trip to me is to instantly experience so many different things at the same time, along with all sorts of fabulous food to go with. In my opinion, this former British colony is not only a must-visit for any traveller, it’s a city worthy of any bucket list too. What you’d encounter here would be unforgettable, as well as unfound anywhere else in the world.
A Brief History of the Former British Colony
Hong Kong has been inhabited since prehistoric times, but it remained largely unknown and unmentioned internationally till the First Opium War. After that disastrous fracas, Qing Dynasty China was forced to cede Hong Kong Island to the victorious British Empire in 1842, followed by Kowloon in 1860 and a 99-year lease of the New Territories in 1898. Happy with its possession of one of the best deep-water harbours in the world, the British established a crown colony, which then steadily grew and prospered. British control of Hong Kong would continue till 1997, when all three territories were returned in full to the People’s Republic of China.
What the Name Means
The name “Hong Kong” might be confusing for new visitors. Translated as “Fragrant Harbour,” it can refer to both the first island ceded to the British and the entire ex-colony. Generally speaking, usage of the name under most situations would denote the various territories as a whole. In daily conversations, however, some locals might still use the name to refer specifically to Hong Kong Island. To give an example, “crossing over to Hong Kong” could mean going from the Kowloon area to Wanchai, Central, etc, by crossing over crowded Victoria Harbour.
Sleeping Dogs, Our Travel Vehicle
All game screenshots are owned by United Front Games and Square Enix London.
United Front’s Sleeping Dogs was my first proper open-world game. With embarrassment, I share that I didn’t have a clue what open-world meant till I played Sleeping Dogs. For that matter, I didn’t even know about the game beforehand; I downloaded it for free from Xbox Live Gold.
Five minutes into the game, and I utterly captivated. Not only did the game contain spectacular action and an engrossing story, Sleeping Dogs reproduced the best of Hong Kong Island with astonishing flair. Whereas Hong Kong sights have appeared in games such as Bujingai, never before has the fragrant harbour been rendered on such a scale, and with such detail and sound. To share again, Sleeping Dogs was the game that inspired me to someday write articles about traveling the world through video games. Till today, I regularly replay it, mostly just driving around the vast areas while listening to the in-game soundtrack. Every time, it really feels as if I’m having a Hong Kong Trip from the comfort of my living room.
Sleeping Dogs is a classic Hong Kong gangster triad story. Protagonist Wei Shen is an undercover Hong Kong-American police officer tasked to infiltrate the powerful Sun On Yee Triad. His combat prowess soon captures the attention of the leaders of the triad, and he is promoted to the rank of a branch leader. As the triad descends into internal war over who is to be the next chairman, Wei Shen becomes embroiled in the power struggle between the two most powerful Red Poles (commanders). This lands him the golden opportunity to cripple Sun On Yee for good. On the other hand, the slightest mistake could result in a horrific death at the hands of the triad’s most notorious torturer.
Our Guide for this Hong Kong Trip, Officer Wei Shen
“Follow me closely in crowded places. Don’t do what I do not tell you. And enjoy yourself.”
Sleeping Dogs Hong Kong Trip Itinerary 1: North Point (北角)
The starting area of Sleeping Dogs, North Point (北角), or Pak-Kok in Cantonese, is a mixed-used urban district in the northeast part of Hong Kong Island. Densely populated like the rest of urbanised Hong Kong, the area has a variety of architecture ranging from public housing estates, to luxury apartments, to public infrastructure like ferry piers.
North Point is typically not on the itineraries of packaged Hong Kong trips, travel operators preferring instead to bring their guests to the more famous street markets in Mong Kok and Jordan. I wouldn’t say this is right or wrong, but having been to North Point a couple of years ago, I found the area more serene and localised than the touristy areas. This is a good, convenient place to get a feel of how Hong Kong residents typically live. Nowadays, it’s probably where a lot of attractive AirBnB offers are found.
Update Nov 8, 2017: Check out my new photos of the night market!
Sleeping Dogs: North Point