THE fragrant harbour. This is the English translation of the word Hong Kong that has been under British colonial rule for 156 years until the United Kingdom transferred its sovereignty rule back to the People’s Republic of China on July 1, 1997.

Before 1842, the name originally referred to a small inlet -- now Aberdeen Harbour/Little Hong Kong -- between the island of Ap Lei Chau and the south side of HongKong Island, which was one of the first points of contact between British sailors and local fishermen.

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The reference to fragrance may refer to the harbour waters sweetened by the fresh water estuarine influx of the Pearl River, or to the incense factories lining the coast to the north of Kowloon, which was stored around Aberdeen Harbour for export, before the development of Victoria Harbour.

Another island, Kowloon Peninsula, meanwhile means Nine Dragons in English.

Hong Kong has always fascinated me since I started enjoying movies of Jackie Chan and all other modern Chinese films where tall buildings of the former British colony are shown. Hong Kong would be in the top five of my most favorite destination outside of the Philippines-- that was before August 23, 2010.

Left Davao for Hong Kong on August 13, Friday, for a three day, two-night tour.

The original plan was to visit Disneyland Hong Kong. But upon arrival at Central Hong Kong, where most of the big and high end stores are located, I decided to forego of the original plan and just shop shop shop on the very night I arrived in the island.

Everywhere I turn -- SALE. Indeed, Hong Kong is a haven for shoppers. I am never a shopaholic but whenever I see the word "SALE" I could not help but check it out.

The tour also brought me to the jewelry company that's been associated with Jackie Chan. Almost all items were on 50 percent discount. Needless to say, I ended up buying five pieces of jewelry that were all under lifetime warranty.

We also took a sampan ride. Enjoy champoy at Victoria's Peak. Enjoy the view at Victoria Harbour. Then back to shopping and more shopping.

On my way back to Davao, I ended up siphoning all of the money in my wallet down to the last centavo. But it was all worth it. Now it's time to save again for another trip. Hong Kong again perhaps? Or maybe not that soon, considering the August 23 hostage-taking incident in Manila that led to the demise of eight Hong Kong residents and one disgruntled Filipino cop.

By the way, our tour guide, Jackie (not Chan), shared some juicy tidbits about the former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo who has been to Hong Kong in several occasions. Jackie said he met the First Gentleman several times but not once did he see former President Gloria Arroyo with her husband.

Also, Jackie said, Arroyo has this habit of dropping off in one area during tours.

"Are you meeting someone beautiful here in Hong Kong, sir?" Jackie asked Arroyo in jest which the latter just dismissed with a laugh.

The territory's population is 7.03 million. There are 7,650 skyscrapers in Hong Kong, putting the city at the top of world rankings. The high density and tall skyline of Hong Kong's urban area is due to a lack of available sprawl space.

Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, at 6,200 people per km. The territory's 1,104 sq. km. area consists of Hong Kong Island, the Kowloon Peninsula, the New Territories, and over 200 offshore islands, of which the largest is Lantau Island.