Travel in Hong Kong: Meet the People

Hong KongThe fragile cup is warm in my hand, a soothing comfort against the chilly December air that attempts to slip under the doors of the Lock Cha Tea Shop.

But I am not here for warmth, but rather to learn about Chinese tea. I refocus on Mr. Ip, a local tea expert, as he discusses China’s love for the revered drink.

One must understand the tea’s qualities, he says, as well as the culture and tradition that surround it. There are intricate rituals involved with drinking tea, he explains, delicately pouring the liquid into several cups.

Then it’s time to sample. I try to grasp what I’ve just heard, but it’s hard for me — a tea-drinking novice — to understand the drink’s subtleties. Yet as I sip the warm brew, I almost feel as I am drinking a bit of China herself. Thousands of years of knowledge have just slipped down my throat.

Such treasured experiences are not what I expected from my first trip to Hong Kong. In fact, this bustling city is not at all what I imagined.

Mention Hong Kong to almost anyone and certain images come to mind: Crowded streets filled with businessmen hurrying to the office, tall skyscrapers blocking the sun and hundreds of stores open late for good shopping.

Yet that picture is incomplete without the people of this vibrant city. The area’s 6.8 million residents come from all walks of life — fisherman sailing their sampans into the harbor, vendors selling dim sum (dumplings) from carts as they talk on cell phones and villagers living in tiny stilted homes along the waterways in the outlying islands.

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