"Wealth will increasingly be defined by our ability to go offline whenever we want." - Fernando Gros
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Blog // Travel
April 17, 2006

Still In Hong Kong

and it sure makes a change from Delhi! In fact, moving here would be quite a culture shock. Not sure if little C is enjoying it or not. The ferries are fun, but it is not what she thinks of a city, very busy, insane traffic and a lot of noise. To be frank, it […]

and it sure makes a change from Delhi!

In fact, moving here would be quite a culture shock. Not sure if little C is enjoying it or not. The ferries are fun, but it is not what she thinks of a city, very busy, insane traffic and a lot of noise.

To be frank, it is not my ideal of a city either. It is commercial, high-rise and lacking in the two things that make a world city tick for me; culture and academia. Sure there is lots of money, lots and lots of money and with it lots of shopping (if your poison is fashion and gadgets).

However, there is more than passing odour of superficiality about this place.

Which makes me wonder how people live and enjoy Hong Kong. That is a question I do not really have answers for yet. There are a lot of ex-pats here (though the biggest ex-pat community is made up women from the Philippines and Indonesia who come here to work as domestic maids) and a lot of social clubs and sporting facilities. There are also not a few churches, some with impressive websites.

But how to live and how to live well, that is the question for us at this stage.

Responses
Andrea Chiu 17 years ago

Hi Fernando,

Thanks for the link to my blog.

You are right to point out the lack of culture in Hong Kong. I came here (nine months ago) with the same concerns as you. The truth is, culture is around us, it’s just not valued or respected as it is in other parts of the world. As you’ve noticed, this city is one that revolves around money. Culture and the arts doesn’t get the coverage foreign media gives culture. Even the young musicians I’ve interviewed seem to have an inferiority complex. But the good news is that this is changing.

To answer your question. I think part of the exciting thing about Hong Kong is finding the nooks and crannies where interesting things happen. I hope that when you and your family finally move here, you’ll find there are some cool things happening. It just takes a little more effort to find them.

Good luck with the house hunt.

Fernando Gros 17 years ago

Thanks for finding your way back here.

I look forward to doing some uncovering. As Hong Kong merges more and more into China I imagine that the Arts and Creative Media will be one of the ways the city can differentiate itself, at least I hope so.

HY 16 years ago

I always enjoy reading what people who first move here say about Hong Kong, and always feel the need to defend my home city. So forgive me if I’m biased. I’ll try not to be. 🙂

There is a passing odor of superficiality, there is too much shopping, there are way too many malls. People say the city doesn’t have a memory.

But it’s precisely because of these that when you get connected with all the artists and writers and just regular people who cares about our cultural development and our social issues, that you’re all the more affected by their passion, that they can still be so idealistic within this environment. The flicker of candle light can shine all the more in the dark right?

This place is also full of clutters, as Chris Pattern said. Tucked away between two high-rises, squeezed between two fancy restaurants, you suddenly see an old shop that has been selling sauces, and only sauces for 50 years. On the 3rd floor of a run-down walk-up building, you suddenly find a shop a few young local designers just opened, and next to it, a bookstore that sells imported Taiwanese books and a coffee shop with free board games. And then there are the islands, the beaches, the traditional villages.

Keep looking. When you find the pleasent surprises (and there are plenty), you’ll treasure them all the more.

Fernando Gros 16 years ago

HY, thanks for your thoughtful comments and for drawing me back to these first impressions. Hong Kong, is not a city that yields up it’s interesting features easily. I’m finding that one has to walk, ask, explore. Without a doubt the glossy-shopping-mall-controlled-environment-flagship-store thing masks the creative and locally rooted Hong Kong, which for me is far more interesting.

Coincidentally, L recently meet an expat who has been here for over two years (on HK Island and now Lantau), but admitted to having never been over to Kowloon/Tsim Sha Tsui. When sharing that story over lunch on the weekend we were stunned to hear a chorus of reply saying “well I hardly ever go over *there* either.”

I guess the challenge for someone new to the city, like myself, is to not let one’s experience of the place settle too quickly on the clean and convenient. I still have mixed feelings about this place, but I’m slowly learning to appreciate more of what it has to offer.

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