Revealing the fortunes of Asia's world city
I PUT my hands out on the small fold out table where a reading light highlights every crease of my palms.
An elderly woman named Teresa sits hunched on a stool studying my hands. A sign pinned to the brick wall behind us spells out her name in glitzy gold font.
Teresa grips my wrist and squints her eyes, rolling my hand from side to side. She leans down to inspect my palms.
The wise old woman is one of dozens of psychics, palm readers and fortune tellers lining Temple Street just off the busy marketplace in Hong Kong's Kowloon Island.
"You will marry in 2016 to a younger man, three children," Teresa tells me.
I'm not sure what to believe, after all, I've been single for years now, but I'm intrigued none the less.
We venture beyond the Cantonese karaoke singers and fortune tellers and reach the end of the market tents where high end shops such as Gucci, Rolex, Louis Vuitton and Chanel are dripping in modern design just metres away.
Lying at the heart of Asia and the southern tip of China, Hong Kong is not only one of the world's major business and financial centres, but a unique place where ancient Chinese traditions are interwoven with a cosmopolitan lifestyle.
We arrive on a balmy - and by balmy, I mean stinking hot- day at Hong Kong international airport after a Cathay Pacific red eye flight from Brisbane. I meet my guide Vivien and arch my neck out the window to look at the buildings towering above. Vivien tells me the Hong Kong philosophy that the higher you live on the mountain, the richer you are. And for Hong Kongians, space is everything. There's not much to spare.
We hitch a ride on the historic tram to the popular Peak lookout to see the true extent of this intricate city where mountains tower in juxtaposition to the man-made high rises.
Back on even land, we zero-in on this seemingly endless city of alley ways, streets and businesses and amble through the pockets of culinary delights. With more than 12,000 restaurants, the city will celebrate its credentials during the month-long Hong King Wine and Dine Festival in October.
Instead of dodging calories, we spent the next day dodging between delivery men pushing trolleys in old factory buildings as we get to know the underground arts scene which is thriving in industrial areas.
The former police married quarters in Aberdeen Street, Central, has been reborn as PMQ, a design hub that aims to raise the public profile of local design by giving designers more opportunities to build their own brands. We poke our heads into each door to see what's inside. Intricate cupcakes designs, modular furniture, funky clothing and even lifelike gardens in glass bowls fill the shelves.
Since the urban renewal, outer areas are now turning into fashionable up-and-coming districts. Away from the city lights I was spellbound by Tai Hung. Young corporate couples line the dinky cafés sipping lattes with poodles with bows perched in their hair sitting on stools.
Around the corner we can smell the waft of incense at a local temple, Lin Fa Temple. A woman in high heels kneels on the ground to give offering to the Goddess of Mercy. She then dusts herself off and goes about her day. Our guide points out a visit to the temple was still a relevant part of everyday life for Hong Kongians, even with the shift in social trends.
Something tells me Teresa was right in her predictions. Hong Kong I will be seeing you again someday.
Now, about that mysterious husband...
*the writer was a guest of Hong Kong Tourism Board, Cathay Pacific and Ozo Wesley Hotels.
GETTING THERE: Winner of Skytrax Airline of the Year award 2014, Cathay Pacific flies 11 times a week from Brisbane to Hong Kong. Return economy airfares start from $1,007 from Brisbane including taxes and surcharges. Visit www.cathaypacific.com.au.
WHERE TO STAY:
Ozo Wesley Hotel, located on Hennessey Rd, a prime business district between Admirality and Wan Chair subway stations. Walking distance to city highlights. Visit www.ozohotels.com/wesley-hongkong/
PLAN YOUR TRIP: