Hong Kong is a pleasure, but also a pain.
The urban mass of humanity, the heat and humidity make it not exactly comfortable.
The mixture of East and West, the extremely urbanized city in proximity to nature make it fascinating to see.
We went from Hainan to Hong Kong just as a tropical depression (almost a typhoon) moved over the area. Our original flight (to Shenzhen, from where we took a ferry) was canceled; regular tropical downpours followed.
Not a good time for a city trip.
It begs the question: How do you still have fun in Hong Kong when it’s regularly pouring rain?
Well, three ways: Timing, attitude, good gear.
Timing: Hong Kong Through the (Breaks in the) Rain
When everybody is out and about, carrying an umbrella because it’s pouring rain, Hong Kong is little fun.
The mass of signs above your head, the crush of people around you, can be fascinating when you can just watch with a bit of detachment.
When you carry an umbrella that constantly gets caught on signs above your head and seems of little use because other people’s umbrellas move yours and pour water on you, anyways, it’s just a mess.
With all the humidity, just taking a jacket instead doesn’t quite work out, either, it just makes you get wet inside from sweat.
The rain tends not to be all that constant, though.
So, there are breaks in the rain you can well use.
Find places indoors that you want to go. Take either bigger streets that have wider walkways somewhat covered by building awnings above, or take smaller streets with fewer people, and you can move quite well to the places that will have you out of the rain again.
Partly we, mainly I, went out to go some places offering matcha desserts and to take photos, and that worked out quite well through the rain:
My wife and I managed to go to some of those places, e.g. Nakamura Tokichi in the Miramall, during breaks in the rain. Having only to walk straight down Nathan Road from Nathan Hotel, which we stayed in, it was easy and dry enough to get there.
I also went for a photo walk around there in pouring rain, and moving through side streets alone with an umbrella above and good shoes below worked out well, too, while hardly anyone else dared to venture out.
Attitude: How Much Do You Want It?
The deluge that was coming down was sure to be a challenge; the hiking trails I wanted to go were definitely out of the question.
But, if I couldn’t go on the hiking trails, I at least wanted to learn what I could about the matcha desserts that had become so popular in Hong Kong, and I wanted to see if I couldn’t find some interesting motives for my practice of photography.
With only three full days in Hong Kong, no time was to be wasted, all the more so as I always enjoy getting here (and my wife doesn’t…).
That did it, too. Out I went, even in the worst of what was coming down.
Things could still have turned out feeling like a waste of time and a bad idea if they had become less than comfortable. Things were not all that comfortable.
The matcha desserts were great, and since I managed to not get completely wet and uncomfortable, I could see it all as good fun.
Gear: There Is Bad Weather… But Also Good Gear
The usual truism about there not being bad weather, only bad gear is a tad old; there comes a point when things just don’t work anymore.
The situation in Hong Kong and the gear I had was quite nice, though, and thus served as a good reminder of the comfort to be had in good things:
My wife went for short trousers and plastic sandals, simply getting wet feet and not bothering to care during the little time she wanted to be outside and in the rain.
Many Hong Kong women could be seen in rubber boots, no matter what they were wearing otherwise.
I went out in some of the worst rain, in shoes that I got sent to Haikou…
Strange story, but I noticed those shoes which are really meant for light hiking, the Unico from the Italian start-up Naglev, at the OutDoor fair, asked them if I could get a pair to test and review, and promptly got them straight from the factory in China.
There will be a lot to say about these shoes, but suffice it to say now that the Unico truly turned out the unique pair I needed for my travels:
Waterproof, high enough to protect well from the water, comfortable enough to walk around in for hours, sporty enough for use on a trail, and good-looking and well-functional enough, over all, that I used them as my only shoes from Hainan via Hong Kong and back to Austria.
A pair of thin, quick drying pants (my Veilance Voronoi, again) and a similar shirt, a waterproof jacket just in case the umbrella wouldn’t be enough (the usual OR Helium II open for ventilation), and the downpour was fun to walk through and take pictures while others didn’t have quite so much fun in it…
Malls, of course, were dry anyways, as museum would have been if we had wanted to go to any of those… but you can go wherever you want, just: in the breaks between downpours, with a fitting attitude, and with the right gear.
Even all that would not have helped for the trails, when they were flooded, but the very last day in Hong Kong looked like it might just work even for that. Out I went, chancing it… and you’ll see how that turned out in the next post.