Hong Kong, You Make It Easy to Love You

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Vibrant city-scapes? Lively mix of Eastern and Western tradition and culture? Hundred-year-old temples sandwiched between skyscrapers? Hong Kong – you really do offer a little bit of everything.

Never have I fallen for a city so fast. From first arriving and crossing a bridge into what appeared to be an amalgam of all great metropolises combined, to discovering the islands that make up this energetic hotspot – Hong Kong hooked me early and kept me wanting more.

Portrait of Portlandia

“Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather. ”
– John Ruskin

1467Touch down

1468Trainside Poetry: “I believe in the rule of opposites…”

1505The Good Mod

1511Coffeeshop Reads

1543Inside the Japanese Gardens

1547And then, the rain

1553One of the many reasons why Powell’s Books was top-notch

1581Sun peeks through

1594Relative to everywhere

I never thought a city could make me fall in love with the rain. I had always been ambivalent to its indecisiveness, halfway between a clear sky and a snowstorm. But the people of Portland welcome every drop. Instead of rushing inside when the leaking starts, they continue about their days, aptly pointing out that yes, “it’s just water.”

Kiwis and Cafes and Raptors

Home again. What a whirlwind of a week – full of hiking, exploring, getting lost in, and falling in love with two new places: New Zealand and Australia.

Wellington, heart of New Zealand

First off, let’s chat about New Zealand. Can I just say how incredible the little city of Wellington is? A town bursting with brilliant culture and knowledge-hungry individuals, this waterfront treasure is also New Zealand’s capital.

-Must Do’s-

Te Papa: Usually I won’t spend too much time in museums when travelling abroad since I think diving into the country itself is the best way to learn about its history. But for someone who knew very little about the Kiwi culture, the national museum, Te Papa,  was the perfect crash course to bring me up to speed. It gives you a run down on the native Maori people vs. Europeans, explains that a pretty giant fault line bisects the North and South islands (that’s led to about 4 earthquakes in the past two weeks), and shows that the people take great pride in their gorgeous land. That last one was learned through discussions with people at the museum, not off the notes lining the walls, but needless to say, this place was rad. Oh, and don’t miss the Collosal Squid!

Cafe Culture: Wellington’s well-known for its love of good food and even better places to eat it in. Every cafe has a feel all of its own and serves up everything from delicious mochaccinos with fresh homemade marshmallows to breakfast burritos with ridiculously fresh ingredients. Never a shortage of good places to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee or grab a bite to eat.

Wellington’s Waterfront: Vibrant both morning and night, the waterfront is the star of the town. Couples stroll together in the early morning, kayakers make their way into the water by noon, buskers come out to entertain with a song or two by mid afternoon, and runners keep the boardwalk alive well after sundown. And as if that’s not enough, the walk is also dotted with these quotes from writers carved into giant blocks of stone. Finding them all along the waterfront was a fun and wonderful challenge.

Botanical Gardens: At the top of the city sits these gorgeous sprawling gardens. You can take an hour or a few to wander through them and catch some of the best views of the entire downtown Wellington below. Little pink flower stamps mark out the way down the hill so you can find your way through the numerous paths.

Zealandia: Guys, this place was essentially Jurassic Park…minus the raptors. A billionaire botanist decides he wants to turn back the clock and restore New Zealand to what it was thousands of years ago, so he creates a park in order to do so. Did you know all the life on the islands evolved without mammalian predators? Neither did I. What this means is that the birds, reptiles, insects, and plants were the only ones duking it out until the Europeans dropped off a few rats and other hairy creatures on their first voyage there. Meaning the birds here, while not super capable in a possum fight, are some of the most intense and unique I’ve ever seen. And only a degree or two away from raptors.

Wellington stole my heart, but it wasn’t the only one. Stay tuned tomorrow for more about Australia!