There are 236 islands in the South China Sea united in this “Special Administrative Region of China”, which was the name given to Hong Kong after 99 years of lease to the United Kingdom, which began after the Second Opium War.
Victoria, a neighbourhood that was named after the Queen at the time, is the heart of the island. This is the departure point of the Star Ferry, which was inaugurated in 1898, and sails for ten minutes to the Kowloon Peninsula, the cultural centre of the region, with wonderful museums. The view during the brief crossing is spectacular, and takes in some of the most aggressive architecture of modern, industrial and hi-tech Hong Kong, with impressive headquarters of banks, financial institutions and the Stock Exchange and Treasury buildings.
The Republic of Singapore has been independent since 1965 and is part of the Malaysian Federation. A city-state on the Equator, it has a population of about four and a half million people, three and half million of whom live in the ultramodern capital.
The history of the city has always been tied to trade and finance, since the area has no raw materials.
Both Hong Kong and Singapore offer the opportunity of tasting cuisines from all over the world in the many international restaurants that are as common as the traditional ones. Among the specialities of Chinese cuisine in Hong Kong are Cantonese dim sum (fried or steamed ravioli and dumplings with a number of different fillings), Peking duck, Chiu Chow cuisine and spicy Szechwan cuisine. Regional Cantonese cuisine is the most common in Singapore, where seafood is very popular. Not to be missed is the delicious chilli crab, in a spicy tomato sauce and served with a small hammer to break the shell. Among other traditional dishes are braised pork with soy and spices (babi pong tay), chicken stew with black walnuts (buah beluak byam) and a mixture of about ten different vegetables cooked in spiced coconut milk (chap chye lemak). Laksa, a spicy soup with coconut milk, noodles, tofu and bean sprouts, and chicken with steamed rice are probably the most popular dishes. Desserts are very colourful and sweet.
Tai Chi: meditation and movement
Tai is a Chinese word that means high or tall, whereas Chi means energy, strength, breath. So Tai Chi is the strength or energy that allows us to reach a state of supreme well-being. According to Chinese medicine, the human body has twelve channels and eight main points through which Chi flows. The 12 channels are like rivers that distribute Chi through the body and link the extremities with the internal organs. The eight main knots can be compared to small reservoirs that control the distribution and circulation of Chi in our body. When there is an imbalance or an interruption in the circulation of this energy, then an illness appears. The flow of events is controlled by the interchange of two opposing forces, Yin, passive force, and Yang, active force. Tai Chi is based on passing from a state of Yin to one of Yang, or vice-versa. The consecutive movements form a harmonic dance that rebalances the body’s energy.
Not to be missed
In Hong Kong
- Victoria Peak. A tower located on the island of Hong Kong from where you can enjoy a truly spectacular view.
- Po Lin Monastery. Situated on the island of Lantau, the monastery houses the largest statue of Buddha in the world. The monastery is on top of Mount Ngong Ping and affords a superb panorama.
- Kowloon. A tour of the Kowloon Peninsula offers visitors local culture and history, as well as great shopping. Of particular interest are the Bird Market, with beautiful birds, and the Jade Market selling minerals.
- City walks. The best way to get to know Hong Kong is certainly to take long walks or organised tours to explore the most interesting parts of the city.
- The ethnic neighbourhoods. The cultural and cosmopolitan essence of Singapore is very present in fascinating neighbourhoods such as Chinatown, Arab Street and Little India. Each of them has its own unique and intense atmosphere.
- Jurong Bird Paradise. A true paradise for bird lovers. This 20-hectare park contains more than 600 species and 8,000 different birds.