Hong Kong’s size and natural beauty surprised Emilie Ristevski, who quickly realised she was going to need longer than she initially thought to get to the bottom of the city. “I had always had this preconceived idea that Hong Kong was just a concrete jungle,” says Ristevski, whose Instagram account Hello Emilie has a following of one million. What she found was so much more: “The city is surrounded by beautiful mountains and rainforest where you can undertake impressive hikes and take in incredible views.” The “photo-creator, storyteller and wanderer”, whose travel snaps took her from uni student to full-time traveller in just a couple of years, say the city’s sheer diversity and unpredictability make it a photographer’s dream. “My first night walking the streets really opened my eyes to how big and alive this city really is. Every street, every corner there is always something happening, something new and amazing to capture,” she says. Here, Ristevski shares her Hong Kong must-sees.
Ristevski recommends seeking out the city's unique markets, whether it’s the fascinating food at the Chun Yeung Wet Market, perfect orchids at the Flower Market or exotic birds at the Yuen Po Street Bird Garden market. At Hong Kong's markets, she says, “it’s easy to get lost in the buzzing energy and experience the Hong Kong way of life”.
Ristevski’s favourite spot for unique Hong Kong treasures is Cat Street Antique Market located on Upper Lascar Road (also known as Cat Street) in Sheung Wan. On this shopping street, merchants ply their wares and there are curios, antiques, jade, silk and art bargains to be found. "The market had a beautiful nostalgic atmosphere, filled with stacks of old treasures and piles of junk to sift through," she says.
Ristevski says Hong Kong locals take their food seriously. “You’re spoiled for choice,” she says. “If you’re feeling adventurous, go where the locals go: the traditional Lin Heung Tea House, one of the oldest Hong Kong style restaurants in the city.” At the decades-old restaurant in Central, you’ll find some of the city’s best yum cha, served at shared tables and ordered strictly in Cantonese (failing that, wild gesticulation can work).
"The atmosphere is busy and loud, with people shouting over the table and ordering food from trolleys filled with steaming hot baskets. It felt like a very authentic experience, and the old Hong Kong atmosphere makes it feel like you're stepping back into the 1930s – think old paintings, traditional hot water kettle and decor."
Ristevski loves the oasis of calm that is the Mira Moon Hotel. Located between Causeway Bay and Central, it maintains a respectful distance from the hustle and bustle of downtown while still managing to be walking distance from shopping, the Convention and Exhibition Centre and the Tsim Sha Tsui ferry. “If you’re going to Hong Kong, why not stay in the centre of it?” she says. "The hotel has a lovely modern feel with elements reinterpreting Chinese historic elements, the rooms are beautifully decorated and have great views of the city."
The 91 rooms in the boutique hotel are tastefully decorated according to four “phases”: New Moon, Half Moon, Full Moon and the Moonshine Suite.
As an itinerant photographer, Ristevski is always on the look-out for a great shot - and she found them in spades in Hong Kong. "One of my favourite places to shoot was the skyline view of Victoria Harbour from The Peak. Some of the best views I saw were on the Peak Circle Walk, which winds around the highest point on Hong Kong Island."
All images by Emilie Ristevski