Mystified by Hong Kong? The city offers a series of cultural programs to help Westerners explore Chinese culture. Meaghan Mulholland has the details.

Thumbnail image for Photo: Hong Kong Market

Hong Kong‘s reputation for glamour is well-established – from the Peninsula Hotel’s fleet of Rolls Royces, to the So-Ho clubs packed with models and bankers, to the dramatic neon pinnacles of its iconic harbor skyline.  As a result, I was warned by more than one well-traveled friend that Hong Kong is “not the real China” when I told them I’d be living here for the summer. “It’s too Western” they said, “too expensive” compared to other Asian destinations; the recommended I not linger too long. But I arrived in Hong Kong determined to look beneath its dazzling, diamond-encrusted, Louis Vuitton-monogrammed exterior and discover what else the city had to offer. 

I’ve been delighted to discover that in addition to its lavish malls and luxury brands, Hong Kong boasts a wonderful array of interesting, affordable, and authentic attractions – from night markets to junk-boat rides across the Harbour, to museums, incense-shrouded temples, secluded beaches and hiking trails. One of my favorite discoveries has been the Hong Kong Tourist Board’s innovative “Cultural Kaleidoscpe: Meet the People Programme,” which offers free classes in various aspects of Chinese culture, ranging from tea appreciation to Tai Chi.

The classes are taught by local experts and usually last around an hour. They’re held on various days of the week in locations around the city, and signing up is simple – just stop by the Tourist Board’s office in Tsim Sha Tsui or Hong Kong Island and register for whatever interests you. One morning not long after my arrival, I was trying Tai Chi along Hong Kong’s waterfront promenade; the next day I was making egg rolls and moon cakes at (Read more...)

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