……… Hong Kong like?
For the first installment of the ‘What is….’ series, I want to touch on what is Hong Kong like.
Hong Kong, The Pearl of the Orient, The City of Life, The Financial Hub of Asia, Shoppers Paradise, Food Paradise, My Paradise.
Many names can be used to describe Hong Kong the city beautiful and for me it truly is my paradise. Let me give you a glimpse as to why.
In 2000 when I first came to Hong Kong as a tourist, I immediately fell in love with this city. I’m a city person through in through and Hong Kong has of course major urban lover points.
What is the nature of the beast that is Hong Kong?
Hong Kong strikes you from the moment you hit the streets. You are inundated with sights and smells that you’ve never seen before. Don’t tell me that you’ve spent a lot of time in Chinatown in your respective country and it’s nothing new.
Hong Kong slams everything in your face at all times. The lights of the city alone makes Las Vegas seem like a blacked out city that didn’t pay its electric bill.
The smells of the city are amazing. Although now that I’ve been here for so long, I can’t smell the city as I once did.
Side Story: I was aware that I had taken up the smell of the city on my person and my clothes and what not a while back. As I was thinking about it one day and walking along Boundary Street in Prince Edward. I was walking behind some other foreigners but they were clearly here on business or something and hadn’t been here long or should I say long enough.
As we were approaching a shop which had a large dog that lived there. The dog smelled them as they walked by and followed them for a few feet as to get a good sniff of their foreign smell. As I got to where the dog was, he gave a quick sniff and walked away as to give the acknowledgement that I had a local smell to me that didn’t require any investigation. I took that as a pass that I had gotten to a point in my time here that even an animal with a sense of smell that is beyond so many creatures on earth gave me a nod of approval. Either that or I had spilled curry sauce on my pants or shoes and he didn’t like that smell.
Hong Kong has diverse smells that seem to change at every turn of the street. Some good and some bad (smelly tofu).
Location, Location, Location!
Hong Kong has some sort of commerce packed into every conceivable place all through out the city. People open shops under stairs with barely enough room to put anything. It is quite amazing to see how much and how many businesses there are here. That right there, in my opinion, says a lot for the type of mentality that Hong Kong people have as well. They are very business minded people.
Which brings me to the most important element of them all. Hong Kong People! Hong Kongers are some of the nicest people you could meet. Now when I say this, you need to understand where I’m coming from as some of you that are here may disagree. The city of Hong Kong has over 7 million people living in a very small livable area. Mind you that New York City also has 7+ million people as well but the livable area size is much bigger.
Having made the comparison of population between the two cities. Hong Kong had 11 homicides from January to August last year according to the Hong Kong police website. Yes, you read that correctly, 11. According to the the NYPD website, New York City had recorded 39 murders just in June last year. Obviously, cultural norms are different so is the fact that there are no guns in Hong Kong.
Now, you may be saying that a low murder rate has nothing to do with your earlier statement that Hong Kongers are the nicest people you could meet? Again, in my opinion, it is a mentality thing. The culture of Hong Kongers is mostly passive. They don’t get angry from the small petty issues of things that you go through in your daily life. I’ve bumped into people on the immensely crowded streets and they will say ‘sorry’ to me, even though I know and they know that I was in the wrong.
Also, because I have put the time and energy into my own learning of Cantonese, I feel that this changes my perception of Hong Kongers drastically as I’m able to interact more with the people of the city. But even on my first trip here I could see that Hong Kongers were really nice.
Another side story: During that 2000 first time in Hong Kong tourist trip, Michelle (girlfriend I came to Hong Kong for the first time with) and I were eating at one of the outdoor seafood places on Temple Street one night. We sat with some Hong Kong people and before you knew it, we were all sharing our food with each other. We didn’t know these people and they didn’t know us. But it didn’t matter. We were sharing that moment together and we were all happy.
Hong Kong life reflects those old Chinese cultural and moral distinctions that have helped to shaped this wonderful city. It does have its issues in turns of democracy in government or lack there of and the disparity of rich and poor is seemingly growing. The streets are crowded beyond the normal rate in most areas and it takes the patience of a Zen master to be able to not throw someone off the curb and into an oncoming bus for their lack of spatial intelligence, but that is also a wonderful challenge and an exercise in restraint. Most Hong Kong people live with their family until they get married and that has its benefits such as family bond and continued respect for the aged. It also breeds some immaturity among many as so many do not learn to take care of themselves. When you see a 40something year old man playing video games on his phone and reading comic books like a 12 year old you know that he is most likely still single and living with mommy and daddy. But again because of this being a cultural norm, it is not frowned upon as it would be in the West.
The city welcomes anyone that comes here with good intentions and seems to quickly weed out those that try to deceive Her. While a bit has changed recently with the democracy movement that wreck havoc on the streets for over a year and of course the new national security law that was brought in by Mainland China, Hong Kong and more importantly, Mongkok is still the same and growth and understanding will come from it all.
COVID-19 has somewhat brought Hong Kong to its knees in a way, as it thrives with tourists and business people moving all about the city and feeding the economy. Currently, only residents are allowed to enter the city and this has the city bare at times in places that are normally busting at the seems with people. But, like in other cities, Hong Kong is still moving and breathing and we will all be alright in the end.
So, when the world resets and settles in the near future, come to Hong Kong and experience it for yourself. Eat as much as your tummy can hold, laugh as much as your full tummy can stand and come to Mongkok and see what the King of Mongkok is talking about.