Panoramic view from Devil's Peak one day in late November
Panoramic view from the edge of Causeway Bay Typhoon Shelter
Some years ago, I happened to be in Hong Kong when the air pollution was so bad that I seriously wondered whether I could ever live here. Making things worse was that this was back when smoking was still allowed in restaurants and bars in the territory; and at one old school Chinese restaurant that I was taken to by a family friend, the air was so smoke-filled and well nigh unbreathable that I actually got nauseous and had to stagger out of and leave the place midway through dinner!
Happily, Hong Kong enacted a smoking ban in indoor public spaces on January 1st, 2007; and four months after that happening, I moved to the Big Lychee. Over the more than 10 years now that I've been here though, there still have been times when I've found myself in a nicotine smoke-filled bar since it seems that certain local bars are happy to flout the law and don't seem to have been shut down or otherwise heavily penalized for doing so. Still, it does please me tremendously that there now is a wide choice of bars and restaurants for me to spend time in without inhaling second hand cigarette smoke and having the clothes I wear into them smell rank for days afterwards.
Unhappily though, there still are days when the air pollution levels here have been on the dismal and even alarming side; often thanks in no small part to the north winds blowing polluted air from Mainland China over here (though it's not like there aren't such as coal-powered power stations, sulphur-emitting container ships and thousands of petrol- and diesel-fueled vehicles on this side of the Hong Kong-Mainland China border). Often, the powers-that-be seek to pin the blame on typhoons for the hazy and smoggy conditions that regularly precede their arrival but what of those other days when the smog levels are high but there are no typhoons any where near Hong Kong?
As I've stated before on this blog: beautiful (blue) skies should not be uncommon sights in Hong Kong. But because they can't be taken for granted in this part of the world, especially in the cooler months of the year, I've become one of those people who can get uncommonly happy when beautiful bright blue skies are seen over the Big Lychee -- as has been the case several times these past few weeks despite it now being officially autumn, if not winter here in Hong Kong!
Honestly though, when you see sights like those in the panoramic photos at the top of this blog post (which, more than by the way, can be enlarged by clicking on them), it can be difficult to stop oneself from beaming broadly and feeling like so much is right with the world. Put another way: Hong Kong really is beautiful, especially on days with visibility so high -- since the air pollution's low -- that you can clearly see that it is so.