In my next life, if I have a choice, I want to live in Hong Kong. Of course, I will expect to be a wealthy ex-pat and not native or a wage slave. Whoever is responsible for perpetual re-use of the universe’s limited supply of atoms might be able to accommodate my wishes. That would be preferable to returning as a worm or plant.
I have been fond of Hong Kong since my first visit many years ago. Some aspects remain constant, but much changes. On my first visit, this was still a British colony, but all things Chinese still made an imprint. The combinations was unique and fascinating. Most Brits were arrogant, and most Chinese were humble. I was fortunate to mingle in each world and take what I wanted from each (as well as be cynical!). The melange made Hong Kong interesting, the sum being significantly better than each of the parts. The free trade economy brought together people, goods, and habits from most of the world. One could find anything and everything to please one’s palate or fancy.
Hong Kong now belongs to China, but much remains the same. The police and customs officials were the same uniforms, but the insignia have been changed. Taxis look the same (and not all are permitted to drive to and from Hong Kong Island), but not all drivers speak English. As in Japan, it is best to carry a card with the address of the hotel in Chinese. Shopping is still a primary driver of the economy, except that many--if not a majority--of customers come from China and not Japan and US. Leading luxury brands have outlets here, like Starbucks has outlets in New York City...and not tiny ones. Each carries the latest collections. The difference to Singapore is the many local people patronize the shops. People dress better than in most, if not all, countries. People are well-dressed and polite.
Luxury hotels are very luxurious, but competition for upscale patrons in intense and those patron expect to be pampered. Service is excellent, because staff is large and well-trained. Food is always excellent and not over-priced, as is often the case in such hotels. Each is an oasis of tranquility is a sea of humanity. The contrast between upscale shopping malls and street markets in significant, but each has its appeal.
Hong Kong continues to be a place of commerce, as it has been since the beginning. At every turn, foreigners are talking business with Asians and Asians are doing deals with Asians. I recall those days and am happy to be a simple tourist with nothing to gain and nothing to lose...except a few dollars for a good hotel, a decent meal, and a “thing” or two.
I am happy to see that Hong Kong has changed, but remained the same. It continues to be fascinating and a city to which I will be happy to return. I am certain that the Star ferry will continue to ping back and forth between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island...if they do not fill in the harbor to erect more sky scrapers...
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.