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Blog // Technology
February 8, 2011

Hong Kong Favourites (20-16)

Last time out I wrote about five places I like in Hong Kong. This time I’d like to highlight five things I like about living here. 20. Weather Signals. Hong Kong has a smart refuge-oriented storm and typhoon warning system (important given how this city depends on maritime trade). When rains or storms reach a […]

Airport Express Station Central Hong Kong

Last time out I wrote about five places I like in Hong Kong. This time I’d like to highlight five things I like about living here.

20. Weather Signals. Hong Kong has a smart refuge-oriented storm and typhoon warning system (important given how this city depends on maritime trade). When rains or storms reach a certain level, everything bar essential services shuts down, which creates a giant choreographed drama as people leave their work to travel home – or, head to the movies, dine out, or socialise with friends. It’s the only place I’ve ever lived where office workers stare at weather forecasts hoping that winds will intensify, clouds will swell and that longed for T8 storm warning will be hoisted.

19 Safety. No major city is free of crime, but it has to be said that Hong Kong is a very safe town. Both the official statistics and my personal experience lead to believe this city is safer than anywhere else I’ve lived. In fact it’s easy to take for granted how safe Hong Kong is, once you’ve been here a while.

18. Airport Express. Hong Kong has an excellent underground rail system. And, the jewel in the crown is the Airport Express (pictured above). I love being able to check my bags in the centre of town well before my flight (even the night before), then hoping onto an air-conditioned carriage for the 24 minute ride out to the airport.

17. Photography. It’s probably no surprise that I fell back in love with photography while living in Hong Kong. Photography is perhaps the most popular creative hobby in this town. From amateur food reviewers snapping images of every course of their meals, to weekend groups in the local parks, Hong Kong is a camera-loving city. Sure, most people will say no when you ask for a photo and the occasional security guard will give you a hard time when you set up a tripod. But, compared to the difficulties faced in other cities (especially London!) this is a friendly place for image-makers.

16. Octopus Card. Many cities have tried to implement rechargeable smart cards for handling fares mass transport systems. But, Hong Kong’s Octopus Card is the leader of the pack. Easy to buy and use, easy to setup recharging from your credit card and with customer service that puts most local and international banks to shame, I just love the Octopus card. As a bonus, you can use it pay for groceries, parking, random visits to Starbucks or McDonalds and even at upmarket eateries, like Robochon’s Salon de The. Moreover, some buildings and schools use Octopus for access and security. It’s just a shame you can’t pay cab fares with it.

Next week I’ll add to the list with five lesser-known favourites.

Responses
Paul 12 years ago

I’d agree with all of these. And they show an insightful understanding of the positive side of Hong Kong that many do not see (or simply overlook).

The Octopus card system is really a marvel and on a recent visit both my father and a friend (both former independent businessmen) were amazed by the fluidity and ease of use of the system (and the fact that the US has not adopted such a system).

The weather signals are funny to me as an ex-Floridian where a Hurricane approaching out in the Atlantic is cause for everyone to wish for it to turn away. Here it is cause for everyone to wish for it to come closer.

ps. #19 has a typo and is listed as 29.

looking forward to the rest….

    Fernando Gros 12 years ago

    Paul – thanks! It’s fascinating to me that everyone seems to have responded to the Octopus comment. I’ve been in the same situation with visitors to Hong Kong being wowed by the system.

    Oh and thanks for mentioning the typo (now fixed). Serves me right for making last minute changes to the order.

Javier I. Sampedro 12 years ago

I feel identified with the point about photography. Before coming here, I used to take pictures not so often but it was in here where I bought my first DSLR and got into it. Every corner in the city has something special to be photographed.

Even sometimes my girlfriend, kind of angry, as I carry the camera on weekends when we are going to walk around and she says: “we have past several times in here, what makes so interest taking pictures again and again”… I guess is the feeling of finding something new, different vision or unexpected.

And adding something about the Octopus, wish I could enjoy it in Spain but I guess that is asking too much 😀

    Fernando Gros 12 years ago

    Javier – oh in a perfect world we could take Octopus with us everywhere!

    And, I definitely agree that Hong Kong is a rewarding place to take photos. Not just the touristy shots, but also the things we see walking the streets.

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