One of the most iconic images of Hong Kong is the sight of the Star Ferry, crisscrossing the harbor since the 1880’s.
A ride on any of the ferryboats offers amazing views of the city’s waterfront and skylines.
The crossing from Tsim Sha Tsui to the central city has wonderful views, but the most stunning trip is from Lantau to Hong Kong Island. The view from the water seems almost like a dreamscape of impossibly tall buildings in extraordinary settings, backed by mountains peaks. All these millions of people, sounds, smells, lights, and colors coalesce into sensory experience that can seem both exhilarating and overwhelming.
The ferry ride from Lantau is only a half hour, perhaps even less if you don’t account for embarking and disembarking time. You might think that essentially, it’s just a commuter ferryboat, but the ride is extraordinary, as your little vessel sails through greenish-blue waves past rocky crags of dormant volcanoes, and past island-sized oil tankers and container ships.
Here and there, a traditional junk is still sailing, like a time-warp relic, with complicated wooden hulls and strange sectioned sails, sometimes colored dull red. Then, after this exciting ride through the ship traffic, in the distance you see, as if rising straight out of the ocean, dozens of skyscrapers. It seems like a fantasy, to suddenly have buildings that reach the sky rising up from sea level.
NYC from the water is also spectacular, but the sudden drama is absent, because you see the buildings gradually rising up, from miles out to sea.
If you happen to be crossing Hong Kong harbor in early evening, the “Symphony of Lights” is an added bonus, perhaps the largest sound-and-light show in the world: music, colored lights, lasers, and spotlights shooting up from dozens of buildings all around the harbor. It’s a magical experience. You can ride boats around many East Coast cities or Great Lakes burgs, but this dreamworld effect is exclusive to Hong Kong and Hong Kong alone.
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