Hong Kong may be one of the world’s most modern cities, but it manages to maintain strong ties to its past. Even if its landmarks look familiar, this oft-changing city often surprises visitors with something new, so here are five facts you may not know about Hong Kong.
'Hong Kong' is scent related
The name Hong Kong literally means “fragrant harbour” and it was the name given to a small area of Hong Kong – now Aberdeen Harbour – back in 1842. While some locals like to joke about where the term “fragrant” came from, the actual reason is believed to be as a result of factories which lined the water burning incense. There was an export trade for incense at the time, which must have been a blast to the senses!
It has a festival for ghosts
The Hungry Ghost Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar. The seventh month is generally believed to be the month that restless spirits roam the earth and is sometimes referred to as Ghost Month.
However, it’s the 15th day that is officially Ghost Day and the day of the main festivities. On this day, the dead are believed to visit the living, while the living do their best to ease any suffering of past ancestors. This practice, known as ancestor reverence, is based on the belief that the dead possess a form of existence that may influence the living.
Hong Kong has more skyscrapers
Hong Kong locals know how to live big – there are more Rolls Royces per person in Hong Kong than any other city in the world. Hong Kong also leads the race when it comes to skyscrapers, boasting more than any other city by far. In fact, Hong Kong has over 60 more skyscrapers than its closest rival, New York. It’s also one of the most densely populated areas on the planet and has one of the longest rail and road suspension bridges.
It also boasts a festival of bread
Cheung Chau Bun Festival on the island of Cheung Chau attracts tens of thousands of locals and tourists each year. It’s one of Hong Kong’s most famous festivals and the star attraction is food. Three giant bamboo towers are constructed some 18 metres high and placed outside Pak Tai Temple, then bun-snatching finalists are selected to climb the towers and strip them of buns. Traditionally, the higher the bun, the more fortunate you are.
The origins of the festival are said to date back to the 18th Century when a plague ravished the land and its people. The remaining fishermen prayed to Pak Tai and soon the area flourished again.
It's home to the longest covered escalator
Hong Kong is built on a hilly, steep and, at times, unforgiving terrain, prompting a unique solution to the problem of how to get around. The Central-Mid-Levels escalator and walkway system is an outdoor escalator system that is designed to make navigating the city quicker, not to mention easier on the knees. It’s the longest covered escalator system in the world (another record breaker for Hong Kong) and helps around 55,000 people a day navigate the city.