Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hong Kong - Stanley Village

So for a half-Chinese Francophile (me) and a British-bred New York-o-phile (he), Hong Kong is place to find all our passions gratified.  After a day and a half of traipsing up hills and down, Mr. Paradis and I decided, as visitors from Honolulu, that Hong Kong, with its bustling international energy is like:  New York, but with better weather, London but with better food or better hi-rises - can't remember which, and Honolulu - but with pubs!

The weather in late march was gorgeous and balmy.  The legendarily oppressive humidity had not yet arrived.  It seemed like the perfect opportunity for a day-trip out of Hong Kong proper.  And I had heard of this quaint fishing village........called Stanley.  

There are many ways to get to Stanley.  You could take the bone rattling bus for a 45-minute journey.   (I did that.) Or take the hiking trail all the way to Stanley.  From the reservoir (via bus) above Happy Valley racecourse, it is possible to follow for FOUR HOURS a narrow sometimes paved path through woodland, along ridges, into deep gorges and up epic hills.......(which the Paradises ALSO did).  The dodgiest part is right at the end.  Your descent down the busy roadway along hairpin turns into Stanley Village is longer than you think it should be once you've left the official trail.  But you do get to peek into the back windows of fancy villas and admire someone else's swimming pools.  Which leads me to the third means by which one transports oneself to Stanley.

One could always DRIVE ONESELF,  or BE DRIVEN in one's shiny Porsche, BMW 7-Series, vintage Jaguar or perhaps in the Maybach - that one happened to purchase at one's recent stop into the dealership on the beach at Repulse Bay along the curving opulent road to Stanley Village.  Oh did I mention that riding this road and perhaps snoozing in the sunshine while one's beloved is manning the wheel of the luxury automobille of choice, one could be forgiven, for the impression on sudden awaking into the dazzling sunshine, that one was not indeed in the far EAST, but rather, in the SOUTH of FRANCE negotiating the corniches as in a Fitzgerald novel on the way to the Grand Casino?

If I haven't already said it, I'll just observe that the route is startlingly beautiful and it is lined with beaches and heartstopping views all along the way.  And you cannot stop yourself saying over and over again.  Jeez-oh-Pete -THIS IS THE LIFE!!!!

And then Stanley.  Charming.  Colorful.  Small.

Sweet.  And where you will find a little of everything one needs to make life a tiny bit SWEETer.

I couldn't tell you if it is the Chinese influence or the English influence.  But as anyone who's ever lived in a leafy English suburb at the end of commuter line would know, flower sellers are almost always the first thing you see amongst the "little parade of shops" when you come off of the train platform.  English husbands have somehow never left off the great tradition of having regular reasons for needing to buy spouse-soothing flowers FOR IMMEDIATE PRESENTATION on arrival at home!  So I'm giving the Brits credit for this particular Stanley delight.

Stanley Flower Seller Number 2

The Asian and Western lifestyles seem to be perfectly and harmoniously integrated here.

What would you say about this giant Mickey-D's billboard in lucky Chinese red, right alongside this

possibly ancient rustic shrine?

That matches perfectly the gaily colored construction barriers and hoardings.

But back to the Brits!  See what I mean about pubs?

And more pubs?

And does anyone in the UK recognize this familiar name?  Of COURSE you do!  Pizza Express is like the McDonalds or Starbucks of British fine pizza dining!

And what about this cheery Tuscan colored stopping place? With more cheery colored barriers!

I would have LOVED to stop here for a pot of tea and a big bowl of noodles.  (Yep, we ARE in Hong Kong AFTER ALL.)  But I was in too much of a hurry to get to the shopping!

Stanley Market is actually a fairly diminutive arcade of small shops which have burgeoned out of traditional hutongs in the oldest part of Stanley.  You WILL find a little of everything here.  Lots of gaily colored embroidered things.  Made into almost anything that you would consider wearing or bringing into your home.  And the prices YES!  They are so very RIGHT.

Out the ocean side of the Stanley Market, is a little intimation of how life could have been in this once-quiet backwater.

In the opposite direction along the sea front, the newer developments rise up.

And then, back to the pub for a swift half or two.  And back on the bus.  (Cause one four hour walk a day is quite enough.)

Past the cities of the newly "arrived",

Past the gathered of past - lives.

Into the lights of the will-survive's!  In Hong Kong, even a visit to a sleepy village is an epic adventure. 

In fact, one of the great pleasures of Hong Kong, more commonly known to Hong Kong natives than to tourists is the wide range of hiking options at the near outskirts of the city.

Next and last Hong Kong post, the Kowloon bird market.  See you!


  1. Hello! I really like these Hong Kong posts. You make me travel to a place I do not know. Lovely! Thanks! Have a great week.

  2. Oh, such joy! The colors are amazing.

    I adore your images of the produce/flower stands and kiosks. I want to dive into each one and explore.

  3. Both of you - I like so much what you do, so I am really flattered and pleased when you give me the thumbs up! Cheers!!!

  4. Fabulous photos together with sensitive observations and comments which totally captures the essence of Hong Kong.......I adore the place and am fortunate to visit there often. I've spent many happy times in Stanley around the market and the seafront eateries. The journey there never ceases to enthrall me with the hairpin bends and magnificent scenery. So beautiful....

  5. Thanks so much "anonymous" for your nice comment. Lucky you, getting to spend so much time Hong Kong. It was definitely love for me! But you can tell that!

  6. Of course I could tell that ! For me too. Anyway I'm even luckier cos I'll be re-locating there soon and guess where my new apartment will be ? You guessed.......Stanley. A dream come true !!