HK Alphabet :: S

S :: Star Ferry
To get from Hong Kong Island over to Kowloon, you have several options: road (underwater tunnel), train, or the Star Ferry. Guidebooks regularly call the Star Ferry "one of the most scenic ferry crossings in the world" or some other such superlative description. I don't know if any of that's true, having little basis for comparison. But I do know that any chance I get to ride on the Star Ferry, I take it.
First, some geography. Not everyone realizes that Hong Kong proper is actually an island, while Kowloon and the New Territories are on the mainland. (Mainland China, that is.) Lantau, Lamma--these are also islands, and there are some 200+ more. Which means that there are lots of ferries plying Victoria Harbor and the South China Sea, along with sampans, junks, and yachts--all of which we have had the great pleasure of enjoying in our years here.
But the Star Ferry is special. Perhaps because it is not primarily a pleasure boat, but simply a means of transportation, a commuting vessel. (Once upon a time, of course, it was the only option for commuting across the harbor.) And what a way to commute! A few minutes of slow travel, a few minutes of gentle lilting and a beautiful skyline.
It is, unfortunately, but a few minutes. It used to be longer--20 minutes, at least, when my dad used it for his daily commute 40+ years ago. But they've been reclaiming land like mad, growing Central out into the harbor, and so consequently the ride has gotten shorter and shorter.
The boats themselves are lovely too, as from a different, more gracious era, from the stars on the seats to the wood floors. But my favorite feature on these iconic green and white ferries? The seat backs that flip back and forth, so that you can always face front, no matter which way the boat is going. And while there is certainly value in a rower's claim that you can only steer your course by watching where you've come from (as this blog, in fact, helps us to do) there is equal validity in facing the future boldly. And perhaps for me now, in these days of nolstalgia and farewells, facing front is what I most need to do.

1 comment:

Frieda Smith said...

This blog made me very nostalgic. I think that I can identify with your feelings. The tug of the wonderfulness of HK coupled with the pull of home even if we were settling somewhere we had seen before! You are leaving the birthplace of one child and the only home that one really knows. The ramifications of the coming return of HK to China left us feeling that we would never see HK again. Thank you for sharing your adventure with us through your blog, Skype and opening your home to us (no matter how tiny) for weeks at a time!