Hong Kong: Kowloon

Hong Kong Island, full of towering skyscrapers, is what people envision when you mention this city's name. That's where the money is, and that's where the British people lived. But those in the know are also familiar with Kowloon, the "Chinese" city across the water. This is where the airport was for so long. This is where the infamous Walled City once existed, with its almost mythical population density. And this is where progress has come slowly, if at all.
 Kowloon is also where the flavor and culture is. For gentrified suburbanites, it's a scary, dirty place. But for the adventurous, there's something awesome hiding around every corner and down every alley. But you don't have to hunt for history. Right next to the Star Ferry terminal is the old clock tower. This is where the old Hong Kong railway station was, and while the historic building itself was torn down, the tower remains as a landmark. Nearby are several museums.
 I avoided public transportation as much as possible, not because of fear or disgust, but because Kowloon's streets are lined with interesting shops and factories.
 Just peaking inside buildings as I went from destination to destination meant that sightseeing didn't have to wait til "are we there yet" - this is some metalworking/pipe shop.
 And another shop was full of mannequins waiting to move to other shops.
 The buildings here are high, but old and run down. Air conditioners poke out of windows, laundry hangs off poles, and everything feels gritty and dirty. Greenery is almost nonexistent if you're not in a public park.
 But three doors down is a bakery with really beautiful cakes on display. Or a window selling delicious snacks. Or a shop full of toys or suitcases or clothes for old ladies.
Some areas of Kowloon are better for exploring than others. And with only a few days, I wasn't able to visit them all. But there is more to come here - streetscapes, markets, and more.

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