Well, actually Moscow is the New York of the east. That is at least what google says, when you google “New York of the east”. Very well then, I shall say that Hong Kong is the New York of the far east. Also, I have never been to Moscow, so this blog entry here is going to be all about HK!
I don’t know why, but “The New York of the far east” came immediately to my mind when thinking about an alias for Hong Kong – not only because there is an actual “time square” in the center of Hong Kong Island.
But first things first. Why did I go to HK in the first place? A very good friend of mine did his semester abroad at the University of HK. During this time, his company fell victim to a big fraud case, with a six figure value, while doing business in Hong Kong. From then on, he had to travel back to Hong Kong two times (to settle lawsuits etc.), on which he both invited me.
Soon after I agreed to join him we sat in an Emirates Airbus A380 heading to Hong Kong via Dubai. As big as my excitement was when we started so big was the disappointment or actually shock, when we got of the plane and into the cab in Hong Kong.
“I wanna go home” is literally what I said.
As I saw the uncountable, weirdly colored skyscrapers rising up in front of me, I was completely overwhelmed and felt a little uncomfortable. The very tight and smelly alleys surrounding our hotel didn’t really make it better.
Well alright, let’s go to bed and get a little sleep. Tomorrow everything will be better for sure! Sure, if better means having daylight and seeing the smog that is hanging over the town yeah – better.
First signs of improvement finally appeared, when we made our way to HK Island central. I have to say, that the Central Business District of Hong Kong is kind of impressive. Big nicely made up skyscrapers of investment banks and other big companies standing next to each other and forming a beautiful skyline with a rather western touch – that’s more like it! This plot twist had to be celebrated.
“Lets grab a cocktail”. And the good mood went away as fast as it came. 160 HK Dollars for a cocktail. That’s 20€. TWENTY! Now Munich already isn’t exactly cheap, but that to me was incredible.
After that next shock we grabbed a cab and went home, at least the taxis there are payable.
It can happen though, that you get a rather, how do I say this, interesting buddy on the driver’s seat. That means, that if he doesn’t race over hills and mountains with 100 km/h he will quite surely either talk with himself, burp, occasionally fart or cut his fingernails during the drive. Slowly I began to go insane.
We developed a coping strategy – taking it with humor. After those approx. three days of getting used to the city, things rapidly began to become better. We, more I, began to discover the different aspects of HK, and there are many. Just to name a few:
– Dragons Back: A hiking trail, approx. a 25 minute drive away from the city center with the metro at the coastal side with an incredible panorama over the southern Chinese sea.
– Kowloon: The other side across from HK Island with Mong Kok, many small charismatic markets and the Ritz Carlton rooftop bar – the highest in the world.
– Din Tai Fung: An exceptionally good Dim Sum restaurant
– Macau: True, that’s not Hong Kong but a must when you are in the area. It’s the Las Vegas of far east and has a very European (Portuguese) touch since it was a Portuguese colony. Macau downtown is stunning!
Long story short the time I had in Hong Kong for me was wonderful and I really wanted to go again.
Coincidentally, we just flew there again. And this time I actually didn’t want to leave at all. Meanwhile I can really imagine living / working / studying there for 3, 6 or even 12 months. Maybe not longer, that should be enough then.
Hong Kong is, compared to Munich for example, very progressive in a lot of aspects. Two would be payment methods and public transportation. When you arrive in HK you should buy the “Octopus Card”. It is a prepaid card, which can be charged at a lot of public places like metro stations or supermarkets. It then can be used to pay in various locations, such as Metro, Supermarkets and some stores. Centralized and uncomplicated.
That brings me to public transportation. You have to produce your octopus when entering the metro at an automated barrier. The amount you pay for the ride depends on where you leave the metro. So no ticket buying or stamping in advance. Moreover the Metro drives in a 2-3 minute cycle so you never wait long. Another nice thing is, that you cant fall on the railway, since they are all equipped with a glass wall, that only opens when a train is in the station.
The working culture is very target oriented and trimmed on success but also features long and funny after work sessions – work hard play hard!
It is hard to describe, but Hong Kong has a very own flair and it’s beautiful, although it can be hard to adapt to in the beginning. If this “initial phase” is overcome, you will face a wonderful city full of opportunities and fun. A nice interlink between far east culture, a financial world city and pure nature.
So, did you already book your tickets? 😀 😛