I decided to take a trip to Hong Kong since I haven’t been to the city. Sure, I have been through the city several times in transit to Mainland China, but never had the chance to really explore it. At first glance, I don’t think that I was missing out on anything.
Keep in mind that this is my first night in the city, so my impressions may change when I get more time to explore the city. Let me address the main points that I have observed so far.
Guangzhou is a city that can be considered cosmopolitan and international for Mainland China. However, I found it possible to go days without seeing any other foreigners there aside from my coworkers.
Hong Kong is a totally different story.
It seems like just about every other person is non-Chinese. People from many different countries and racial backgrounds can be seen on just about any major street. This includes Africans, Europeans, Americans (of all races, I ran into several Black Americans in the same hostel that I am staying at), Indians, Filipinos, and many more.
Some people may enjoy this hodge-podge of different cultures, but it just isn’t for me. This is especially the case with the Indian peddlers that are always pestering passersby to buy their wares. Their sales methods are similar to the aggressive tactics that Nigerians were known for in Japan when they were selling bootleg hip-hop gear.
On a positive note (at least for my Black readers), the hostel that I am staying at is operated by an African man married to a Chinese woman. At least some of us are doing business in the East.
Just about everything here in Hong Kong is more expensive than Guangzhou, and Guangzhou is not exactly cheap by Chinese standards. This became noticeable the instant that I got into a taxi and the fare started at 22 HKD (about 2.83 USD). To compare, the taxis in Guangzhou start at 10 RMB (about 1.51 USD). The meter in Hong Kong goes up a lot quicker than in Mainland China too.
My hostel hit me for the equivalent of 130 USD, which is arguably a decent deal. The downside to this is that it is only a bed, toilet, and shower. I don’t even have space to do calisthenics in this room. From what I have heard, accommodations are cheaper at other times in the year, so it was probably a mistake to come here during the summer. It was unavoidable for me though.
The British Influence
Unlike Mainland China, where drivers drive on the right side of the road, Hong Kongers drive on the left side of the road, like in the United Kingdom. Double-decker buses are prevalent. What we Americans call the second floor of buildings is referred to as the first floor, like in the UK as well. What we call the first floor is called the ground floor.
Hong Kongers are also much more polite than Mainland Chinese. For instance, people queue up instead of fighting to be first on the metro. English is present on most signs throughout town, and foreigners that cannot read Chinese will find it easier to get around. It isn’t difficult to find people that speak English either.
When it comes to fashion, Hong Kong has China beaten for sure. The average person on the streets, male or female, is dressed a lot better than their Mainland counterparts. Shopping seems to be bigger here as well. As a side note, golf appears to be quite popular.
Hong Kong is Nothing Special
Of all of the places that I have been, Hong Kong just doesn’t strike me as having many benefits. Japan was amazing due to its cleanliness and polite people (as well as my infatuation with anime and video games at the time that I was there). Taiwan blended the cleanliness of Japan with the affordability of Mainland China for a great balance. China is a land of various opportunities.
Hong Kong just trikes me as gritty without the opportunity of Mainland. Expensive without the fascinating setting or tidiness of Japan. Hell, even multicultural without the familiarity or guns of America. It’s certainly not a place that I would want to stay in, at least given my first impressions.
Hong Kong is not all bad. The roaches here still fly, but at least they tend to be smaller than those found in Guangzhou. Also, it is nice to connect to the Internet without having to use a VPN.
I plan on checking out some of the other good points that the city professes to have, such as the statue of Bruce Lee and authentic dim sum. We’ll see if Hong Kong can redeem itself in my eyes.