Hong Kong has the big city specials like smog, odour, 14 million elbows and an insane love of clatter. But it's also efficient, hushed and peaceful: the transport network is excellent, the shopping centres are sublime, and the temples and quiet corners of parks are contemplative oases.
The best thing about being in Hong Kong is getting flummoxed and fired by the confluences and contradictions of a Chinese city with multi-Asian and Western elements. It's about savouring new tastes, weaving through human gridlock and humming some dumb Cantopop tune while slurping your noodles.
From the vantage point of Victoria Peak, overlooking the world's busiest deepwater port, you can see a city geared not only to making money but feeling good about it. At night, it's like looking down into a volcano.
Despite its British colonial past, Hong Kong has always stuck to its roots, and the culture beneath the glitz is pure Chinese. Mind you, that didn't stop locals from feeling apprehensive about being reunited with the motherland when the British handed the colony back to China in 1997, but their unease has largely evaporated.
Facts for the traveller
Off the beaten track