I hate Hong Kong, or I did, years ago.
This is one of the most common photographs taken in Asia. Every night of the week sees professional photographers, and people like me, with tripods set up on Avenue of the Stars in Kowloon, their lenses trained on the bright lights of Hong Kong Island.
How could you not take this photo? The clouds roll in from Victoria Peak, covering the skyscrapers. The phallic IFC2 building spotlights the sky. It’s freakish. It’s mysterious. It’s gaudy beauty. There are dozens of colorful metaphors I could use.
I hate you, Hong Kong. On your streets I feel like an adulterous husband sneaking guiltily around. How could I love the bastard child of opium-laced British Imperialism? I hate you, Hong Kong, and Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon, Central, Wan Chai, and Causeway Bay.
But this photo: I can almost forget about the bitter expats that fill your bars and the fact Jackie Chan is still allowed to make films. This scene: That is why I love you.
And hate you.
Update: This was written in the year that I loathed Hong Kong. Now I call Hong Kong home. Over the years my outright hatred softened until I learned to love the world’s greatest city. From vibrant central to the more sedate Sheung Shui – I love it all.