A home away from home!
04.07.2008 - 06.07.2008 32 °C
When I moved to Taipei I was told that if I was feeling home sick I should visit Hong Kong. At the time I thought this was strange because, although I was aware that Hong Kong had been a British colony I had no idea to what extent it would feel like home. As I climbed onto a double decker bus at the airport, that proceeded to drive on left side of the road along streets with familiar markings and sign colours I felt very warm inside. The geography of Hong Kong is very different to the UK and the buildings are almost impossibly high, but the style and quirkiness of the shops, buildings and transport systems (ie. the Star Ferry and trams) reflect the traditional and historical atmosphere of England.
Coming from Taipei I was amazed and almost uncomfortable about the amount of foreigners (especially Europeans) walking the streets. Some were clearly residents but lots were tourists from an array of different countries. In Kowloon, where I was staying, there were hordes of different groups hanging about in the streets or trying to sell "Copy watch, copy bag" to everyone as they walked past. In central Hong Kong on Sunday there were an incredible amount of Philippino women (most likely nannies) sitting together playing cards in the subways or on the bridges connecting department stores. This was clearly their day off to spend with friends but with little money and no home of their own, they had few places to go. The Hong Kong Chinese are a breath of fresh air after spending so long in Taiwan. Their English is fluent and they show noticeably good manners in public. If they were in my way or caused me to bump into them they always said sorry and were much more aware of themselves and the people around them than the Taiwanese.
Hong Kong is a great mix of new and old, with beautiful and architecturally amazing buildings, and very traditional aspects like market-style roads and the tram system (both around town and the cable car to the peak). The City is very well developed for tourists and has every kind of restaurant and bar you could want. At night the streets come alive with music and drinking. Small bars open out onto the street and the whole area is full of people. In these areas I would say that about 8/10 people are Westerners.
Hong Kong is also good for shopping. I didn't have much money to spend but if I had, I could have bought clothes and shoes in all of the normal sizes from home. There is also an abundance of good food available and not at the inflated prices you would expect. When I worked out the exchange rate, most things were the same equivalent price as in Taiwan but with a much greater range and better quality products. Except for dairy products, which are equally expensive as in Taipei.
Hong Kong is a beautiful city with a lot to offer and I wish they needed me to teach there!