There are a lot of tourists here in Hong Kong. You can easily identify them. A tourist wears his backpack as a frontpack. He checks for his wallet as obviously and frequently as he’s able. His passport and money are in a bulge under his shirt. He stares at menus seeking something familiar and orders the fish and chips or hamburger. A tourist wears new tennis shoes, a camera, and a fanny pack.
I think they’re here to shop. For that, it’s paradise. The temperatures are mild (except for the height of summer) and there are limitless things to buy. Well, limitless as long as you’re looking for high-end brands. I should say that — aside from the fact that the “Wet Floor” signs are in Chinese — shopping malls in Hong Kong are identical to those in Las Vegas or Beverly Hills.
Of course, I’m glad I came. It has been interesting to experience this “Commercial Capital of Asia.” Sadly, virtually everything historical has been torn down and replaced with shopping malls and office parks. I did find the Man Mo Temple, which is nestled in amongst very tall apartments. It was an interesting remnant of Hong Kong’s past. I was invited to come in and look. There was more incense burning than in a freshman dorm. I tried not to gawk as people were praying.
There is definitely a lot of commerce taking place. You can almost feel the money flowing. There are huge numbers of people busy in finance-related jobs. You better get out of the way to avoid them as they go flying past in their helicopters and Maseratis.
Speaking of the people, the nicest people I have met have been Americans. Aside from Danny who was quite nice, I didn’t really feel welcomed here. And, even Danny probably would have been unkind if I hadn’t bought anything. I didn’t meet anyone from Mainland China. Interesting side-note: Chinese Soldiers stationed here are not allowed to leave their barracks (even when they’re on leave) because of the status of Hong Kong as a Special Administrative Region. I guess they don’t want the soldiers to shop.
Loads of locals wear surgical masks, too. That doesn’t exactly put you at ease.
In short, this is a big city without much heart. Maybe it has to do with its colonial history? Although I don’t think so. Cape Town was full of heart, but with a much more brutal colonial history. So, I’m not sure, but I’ll look forward to trying to learn more about Hong Kong from afar.
Have a nice evening, America! While you’re sleeping, I fly 1.5 hours to Taipei and then 9.5 hours to Sydney.