Having spent a delightful night at our hotel, we started off the day with a bus ride to the border control station located on the brim between mainland China and Hong Kong. The huge border control station handles immigration checks and also serves as a terminus for Hong Kong’s MTR commuter railway and sees several ten-thousand Chinese commute to their workplace in Hong Kong every day.
Our first stop in Hong Kong was at the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau, which is responsible for overseeing the full and faithful implementation of the “Basic Law” (Hong Kong’s de-facto constitution). The Bureau coordinates and promotes closer ties with mainland China. We were greeted by Principal Assistant Secretary Tang who held a presentation about the principles of “One Country, Two Systems”, according to which Hong Kong is governed. The insights gained were manifold: despite Hong Kong being a democracy, there is no process of general elections by the public. The Bureau is responsible for negotiations with Mainland China and, for instance, holds talks with the central government to allow HK to hold elections through universal suffrage as soon as 2012. It came to us as a surprise that, despite being a government official, Mr. Tang was surprisingly open and critical towards certain aspects of Chinese influence on Hong Kong.
We then headed up to Victoria Peak, a 552m high hill overlooking the city. Fortunately, we didn’t have to walk, but instead used the so-called Peak Tram to get up to the summit. The funicular was built back in 1888 and is considered a marvel in engineering, being the first of its type in Asia. Interestingly, the roll stock in use nowadays was manufactured by Swiss company Von Roll. The view over the whole city was limited in visibility, yet wasn’t at all less impressive. Whilst riding back towards the city centre, our bus drove down Peak Road which is one of Hong Kong’s most expensive residential streets.
After a boat cruise, we enjoyed our lunch on a floating restaurant (apart from us, HM Queen Elizabeth II once dined there too) stocking up on energy for the afternoon sightseeing and shopping spree.
After dinner, we met at the harbour to witness the “Symphony of Lights”, a light and laser show. Being installed on 44 buildings, the laser show was breath-taking and its technology seemed impressive. After a colourful final glimpse of Hong Kong’s skyline, we took the Mass Transit Railway back to China, taking with us many impressions of and new insights into Chinas first Special Administrative Region.
After a busy, colourful and fun filled day, we left HK again for mainland China taking back many impressions from two systems in one country.