Hong Kong impressions

My feeling about Hong Kong is a love-hate.

I strongly believe what cities must be fully  walkable, so I hated it, when I couldn’t walk from Kowloon train station to Jordan MTR, or also could not walk from Admiralty to the Cable car station. The problem was not even the absence of pedestrian ways, but due to extremely complicated multi level road design. Neither looking at the map nor standing there and looking around can help you navigate. The view is almost always obscured by something, so you have no idea where you are and where you are going. Even worse, because of so many people and vehicles, it is so loud outside that one can barely talk, so finding a right way is really challenging. On two occasions, it was easier for me to take public transport for one stop, for no other reason but to reach a more navigable position.

At the same time, I find Octopus card and the free mid-level escalators cool idea, and the streets around PMQ extremely cool and scenic. Must walk downwards to fully enjoy them though.

MTR stations are unnecessary huge, so you must walk long ways just to enter or exit. But at least there is no security check at the entrance, making them a little more convenient than Chinese subways. And I liked the way how interchanges between red and green lines are designed: the lines  run parallelly for 3 stations, if you change on one station, you continue to travel in the same direction, on the other station you switch to travel in the opposite direction.

I think, modern cities must be ashamed of such roads as La Rambla in Barcelona, Nanjing Xi Lu in Shanghai and the  lower Nathan road in Hong Kong. Neither Berlin nor London have such streets designed (and tolerated by powers to be) to rip off tourists.

Even outside of touristic routes, Hong Kong is very expensive. You must earn a lot just to live there. I didn’t see beggars or the very poor people that are typical for Shanghai.

Cars don’t honk all the time, drive less often under red signal, and there are almost no scooters. Still, turning cars don’t give priority to pedestrians and seem to park on walkways whenever possible. People cut you in line less often than in Shanghai, and more often than in Shanghai seem to mention the presence of other people (eg. don’t suddenly stop in the middle of a narrow place just to type into their smartphones, ignoring the people walking behind them). Still, many people would walk very slowly in narrow places and not letting other people to overtake.

I had read that people masses should be incredible in Hong Kong, but after walking on Nathan road as well as around the Central station on Sunday, I ‘d say that people are not more abundant or hostile than in Shanghai or in Venice’s San Marco.

Hong Kong inhabitants are much less Chinese than Shanghaers, many seem to be foreigners, or of mixed origin, or just have adopted western fashion.

I have thoroughly enjoyed PMQ, something like Haeckische Hofe in Berlin or Tian Zi Fang of Shanghai, but bigger and in the very charming houses, former living apartments of police officers.

The view of Victoria Harbour was strikingly different from the Shanghai’s Bund skyline. Shanghai is very elitist, you see maybe a dozen of huge names on top of skyscrapers. Hong Kong is very inclusive, besides of some bigger names, you also see many smaller ones, and hundreds of small lights. It is as if Shanghai would say, either you are super rich, or very poor. And Hong Kong says, work hard and smart, and maybe you can add your own small light to the hundreds of other middle class lights.

I didn’t like that everything is very small and narrow, especially that the stairs didn’t fit my whole foot and that the chairs were always so low I barely could sit. But it amazes me how well they are used to this efficient space design, because this definitely brings economic advantages to them. In a Starbucks shop there was a  long curved way  from the counter to the back door, which would have been used just as a corridor in Germany, but has accommodated 9 sitting places and 4 tables in Hong Kong.

Thus they can earn more money per square meter. Besides, Hong Kong has  generally high price level — it feels like you are buying water in the airport, all the time. (if you wonder how it feels buying water in Hong Kong airport: tiny coke bottle costs 21 HKD). These two factors combined should result in huge renting prices for property. I wonder if it is easy enough to invest in Hong Kong properly. Maybe not, because otherwise it wouldn’t have much sense to buy properly in Nuremberg for investment.

Many Chinese restaurants in Europe are run by emigrants from Hong Kong. By visiting Hong Kong I was hoping to understand their motivation: why did they left Hong Kong? Why do they sometimes  want to return back, after so many years?..

I didn’t found an answer.

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