Tucked away at the very bottom of mainland China, yet still retaining strong cultural and trading links with the West, Hong Kong is the archetypal borderland between two civilizations. Amidst spiralling skyscrapers and crumbling pagodas, the values of East and West intermingle – mixing up a heady concoction of cultures that’s neither truly alien nor totally familiar. Within this unique system, there’s a perfect chance for both sides to observe what the other has to offer – and the East has plenty of advice to offer us Westerners in terms of how we live our lives. Here we round up just a small slice of the wisdom we’ve gleaned on Hong Kong’s bustling streets, and tell you how best to apply it to your own life:
It’s no secret: modern life can be hard, and nowhere typifies this better than the dizzying vortex of efficiency that is Hong Kong. Long work hours, an ingrained work ethic and a rigid nine-to-five structure all contribute to a world most of us would feel is only all-too familiar. But while we in the West would vent our frustrations at our psychoanalyst or by chomping down Prozac, some parts of HK society still prefer the more-traditional approach. As in mainland China, acupuncture is often used here to treat a whole range of psychic illnesses; along with herbs and teas. Bizarrely enough, another big ‘de-stressor’ is thought to be foot massages – another practice imported from the mainland.
Tai Pan reflexology& spa (Hong Kong 2011)
Bizarre as it seems to us, the thinking behind this last one makes perfect sense: our feet are connected to the Earth, and the conduit through which the Earth’s energy enters into our bodies. A problem with our feet can translate into mental disaster, and a foot massage can be the perfect antidote to stress. A full-body Tui Na massage is recommended as well – by opening up the meridian channels in our bodies, our Qi is allowed to circulate more freely; translating to better mental wellbeing. And that’s before we even get onto the proven therapeutic benefits of meditation.
Keeping Fit and Looking Good
It’s a secret the mainland has had trouble keeping from its Westernised cousin: tea is good for you. As in, really good; as in it’s practically a wonder tonic. White tea, green tea and oolong tea are all known to help with weight loss and to have anti-ageing properties. Can such claims possibly be true? Well, scientists agree that green tea has some rather wonderful side-effects; such as reducing cancer rates, as well as helping those of us on an exercise-based diet burn off up to an extra 200 calories a day! What about the supposed anti-ageing benefits though? Well, that claim may need to be taken with a pinch of salt – but if you’re looking for a long life, Hong Kong has imported a tradition even more-helpful than tea: Japanese food.
Yes, simple, delicious Japanese food – as found in plenty of HK restaurants–may be the key to long life. According to the Guardian Japan has more centenarians than any other country on Earth – and it’s all down to their seafood, whole grain and vegetable-based diet. Luckily, good Japanese restaurants are two a penny in Hong Kong; so long-term visitors may yet live to see 100!
While some Hong Kong women prefer to go the Western beauty route, shelling out a small fortune on lotions and tonics; some of them still haven’t forgotten the old Chinese methods. Camellia nut oil, for example, is used almost-religiously in some parts as facial conditioning oil – and it works even better than moisturiser. It’s a classic example of the Eastern beauty method: plenty of natural products, applied with almost ritualised precision – and the results speak for themselves. Perhaps it’s time we in the West lost some of our fascination with chemicals, no?
Have you picked up any interesting tips on Hong Kong’s winding streets? Tell us about them in the comments below!
If this article has inspired you why don’t why not visit HotelClub’s Hong Kong Hotels section and start planning your journey of enlightenment!
Ally is a freelance writer with an interest in travel, beauty and well-being. If you have any tips I would love to hear them!
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