We Put Hong Kong on the 52 Places to Go List. Things Got Complicated.

The 52 Places Traveler

The planned stops on the 52 Places Traveler’s trip around the world included a mainland China ski area — and Hong Kong. Neither was quite as expected.

Photographs and Text by Sebastian Modak

Our columnist, Sebastian Modak, is visiting each destination on our 52 Places to Go in 2019 list. His last dispatch was from Japan’s Setouchi Islands, where he took in a once-every-three-years art extravaganza.

On Halloween night, defying a ban on masks put in place last month by the police, hundreds of protesters assembled in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park just after sunset, wearing masks of Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, defaced to look like the Joker and mash-ups of Chinese president Xi Jinping and Winnie the Pooh, an often cited resemblance that had Chinese censors ban the jovial bear.

I followed a group of young protesters as they made their way across town shouting slogans and exchanging handfuls of candy, but we never made it to the Lan Kwai Fong night life district. Somewhere in Central, with no warning, the riot police fired canisters of tear gas into the crowd. I momentarily lost my companions and when I found them again they washed out my burning eyes with contact lens solution they carried just in case.

And then we went out for yakitori and beer.

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