The joys of a har­bour cross­ing

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Afloat - SU­SAN KUROSAWA

I HAVE just been in Hong Kong, which is al­ways a joy to visit. There is some­thing so cock­sure about har­bour cities, and par­tic­u­larly great trad­ing ports. I love the pur­pose­ful rush and scurry of ves­sels of myr­iad sizes and the pos­si­bil­i­ties to get out there on the water among it all, on fer­ries and sail­boats or, in the case of Hong Kong, on a tra­di­tional junk that could have ma­te­ri­alised out of a James Clavell novel with an opium-run­ning taipan at the wheel.

While the mo­torised tourist boat Aqua Luna is a 28m pre­tend junk, with crim­son sails that are just for show, it bobs about with a pleas­ing rhythm on the washes of big­ger craft and to be aboard is a lovely way to en­joy a Hong Kong sun­set or, if you time your slot just right, the nightly Sym­phony of Lights show that kicks off for about 15 min­utes from 8pm in a dis­play of lasers and search­lights that zigzag like light­ning strikes across at least 45 sky­scrapers amid rous­ing simul­cast mu­sic.

Aqua Luna has up­stairs and down­stairs seat­ing, but the bed-like lounges up top are the shot, with padded bol­sters and cush­ions. My voy­age, from the Hong Kong Is­land side to Tsim Sha Tsui on the Kowloon Penin­sula’s tip, takes place as the sun goes down in a blaze of or­ange, and it seems im­pos­si­bly ro­man­tic to be un­der those great batwing sails. Surely the wait­ers should be wear­ing pi­rate eye-patches and talk­ing to their shoul­der par­rots.

Jan Mor­ris, that un­par­al­lelled chron­i­cler of cities, has writ­ten of Hong Kong’s ‘‘im­pres­sion of ir­re­sistible ac­tiv­ity’’, and you feel this most on the har­bour, es­pe­cially when rid­ing to and fro on those dou­bledecker green-and-white Star Fer­ries, in ser­vice since 1888 and still zoom­ing strong, dis­play­ing those fa­mously dis­cour­ag­ing signs: ‘‘Do not travel with any an­i­mal or poul­try. Do not put any part of your body out through the bul­wark. Pas­sen­gers should not lie down.’’

Hong Kong has such an ap­petite for waterfront recla­ma­tion that you won­der if the two sides of the har­bour will meet one day. I hope not and so does Hong Kong tourism am­bas­sador Jackie Chan, who says he made his first har­bour cross­ing when he was seven, ‘‘dressed in a cow­boy cos­tume [with] 10-gal­lon hat and plas­tic six-shoot­ers’’. That’s my kind of pi­rate.

Surely the wait­ers should be wear­ing pi­rate eye-patches and talk­ing to their shoul­der par­rots

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