Hong Kong is one of the iconic exotic expatriate locales. The place has a vibrancy and bustle that one can feel. Because of the high population density, I wouldn’t want to live there, but for it is perfect for a week-long visit.
It is over 20 years in Chinese control since the British handed it over in 1997. Hong Kong is considered a special administrative zone by the Chinese and it has its own visa regulations, currency, flag, etc. However, it is definitely under control from Beijing. As they are doing all over the world, Beijing has put in much infrastructure, including the world’s longest bridge to the other former foreign colony, Macau, which I visited in 2015.
My friends, Malcolm and Ingela, former Hong Kong residents, showed us around so we got a good taste of the place. Crossing Victoria Harbor on the Star Ferry is according to my British friends, one of the things you have to do in life. After quick authentic fish n’ chips at the pier, we hopped on the 2.20 HK dollar old boat. We enjoyed the light show from the Kowloon side.
I wish I had come here 30 years ago, instead of at age 51. The night life in the hills of Hong Kong island was extremely buzzing with young expatriates partying, Maseratis parked outside of Hard Rock and young people looking for a good time. It would have been fun if I was a young, single man. We met a couple of young female Hong Kongers taking donations from UNICEF. One of them is attending the University of Toronto. Being teachers, we had to ask about her schooling. In her engineering program, she enjoys the relaxed nature of the mathematics compared to her high school in Hong Kong. She said they get 3 minutes in Toronto to work through a problem, but in HK, one gets 30 seconds!
The islands of Hong Kong are quite mountainous and that limits the amount of land that people can live. It makes the population density even greater. There are escalators to assist getting people from the harbor up the mountain through the restaurant and bar districts. We didn’t get to the most expensive real estate in the world, the luxury apartments in the “peak” on top of the mountains of Hong Kong Island. The scale of the office buildings and apartments on Hong Kong rivals Manhattan, but even closer together.
It was fun to pretend we were financial traders and bankers after work, sitting on the steps of the pier having a beer while looking at the Kowloon skyline. I think of the many Brits who did this through the years.
We only really saw the flashy, tourists parts of the city and I am sure there are poor and crowded apartment blocks. Nine million people squeezed into a small area is crazy and in the taxi ride to Lantau Island to Kowloon on my first night, the sheer massive walls of cubicle apartments is remarkable. So many people squeezed in such a small area. It must impact you view of the world. F
I was impressed with the internet connection in the hotels, convention centers, airport, etc. So much better than mainland China. It was cool to feel the power and rise of China, in the city and at the conference. Country number 66 in my life was fun to visit and I will fondly remember my brief time in Hong Kong.