Hong Kong really surprised me. I expected a cold jungle of skyscrapers but Hong Kong is a city full of greenery! Luscious greenery grows between skyscrapers, streets are clean and everything works like clockwork. You won’t meet a lot of people on the streets because the walkways lead either under or over the city through various tunnels and bridges, surrounded by the most expensive fashion boutiques. Chanel, Chanel, Dior, Lanvin … yes, happily two Chanel stores side by side because…well, why wouldn’t you? Moving around Hong Kong is basically a walk through a shopping mall. One luxury mall follows another and you rarely see ‘value’ brands such as H&M or Zara.
The All Action Chinese
Hong Kong truly is not China. Under each “noodle” text you will find an English translation, meaning orientating yourself here is no problem. Almost every local answered me in decent English and all trains have bilingual annoucements. I expected a humble demeanor from the Chinese but I was surprised by their kindness, friendliness and capacity for action. Nobody said to me: “I will ask the boss.” Everybody took responsibility, acted quickly and professionally and were customer focused to the maximum. It is quite scary to see such an activity, drive, education and language skills. Because the question arises – what will happen with us lazy and spoiled westerners?
Public transport operates like clockwork. Every minute a subway train (MTR) arrives and everybody boards in an organized manner, draws out their supersized smart phones and that’s it. They are all well groomed and friendly but polyester and catastrophic shoes still abound. I saw it all pretty easily; being a giraffe-like 180 centimeters, I had a clear view over everyone. Despite their short stature it surprised me that ladies have mostly very nice, long fingers and manicured nails. 95% of locals are slim and even the rest don’t struggle with bulging tummys and asses.
The Chinese know how to bleach and colour their thick, dark hair so their heads are a riot of colors. I even spotted green hair, worn long to the waist; super shiny and healthy. The biggest fashion craze right now seems to be large spectacle frames worn without lenses. They wore them purely as a fashion accessory, most commonly in a ‘John Lennon’ style.
In a sharp contrast to the jungle of glass skyscrapers is the bamboo scaffolding, bound together by tape alone. No screws or metal. Just bamboo sticks wrapped around a skyscraper and job done.
Hong Kong has 7 million inhabitants and the main districts are Kowloon, Hong Kong Island and the New Territories. Expats are concentrated in Soho on Hong Kong Island; New Territories are on the opposite side of the Pearl River neighboring directly with China.
Apartment for € 6,000
Renting an apartment in Hong Kong Island and Kowloon costs €5,000 to €6,000 per month. This is the largest living expense; other items such as food and transportation are not much more expensive than in Slovakia. However, if you expect a luxury apartment for this price, you will be disappointed. The apartments are very small; the rooms are often no bigger than 2 x 3 meters! Good old Petržalka! All, however, have spectacular views, spacious reception areas, security services and several large common areas. Each residential complex has the amenities of a small town; playgrounds, swimming pool, gym, lounge with massage chairs, even karaoke rooms, or piano rooms for private music lessons for kids living in the complex. Of course, the apartments themselves could barely fit a piano in!
You can find any restaurant possible here – Thai, Philippine, French, Japanese … Most popular seemed various types of noodles eaten with much munching and slurping. They generally use far less sugar in this part of the world. Even foreign confectionery manufacturers alter their recipes for the Asian market. What I was missing in the local diet was a choice of fruit. Growing fruit is probably not their number one priority or they just don’t like it that much.
I also found some serious handmade tailoring and domestic fashion designers. So for the next SuperStar or the Voice of CzechoSlovakia that my company, ExtravaDansa styles, you will be able to see some extraordinary pieces from the local makers.
Shark fin as an elixir
I also visited the local markets. Fish are usually sold with a still beating heart! If the heart is not beating, the fish will not be sold. Still alive, they will fillet the poor thing for you. You will also find turtles, snakes and frogs here. Your taste is your taste…
Even more fascinating was the market for Chinese medicines. You arrive there with you prescription and the ‘pharmacist’ will prepare your crab tails, dried shark fin and snake skin accordingly and off you go with your treatment! The seller will write down nicely how often and what to take and that’s it; as good as aspirin back at home.
Hong Kong was for me a really nice surprise. The culture is different, but the decency and willingness of people in many ways is superior to Europe.
The ferry takes you from Hong Kong Island to the mainland for Kowloon and New Territories. It goes back and forth every few minutes.
A delicious dinner for $40 – Hong Kong of course :)
Peking duck is a must :)
Pharmacy with medicines of a “bug type”. So, if you have a cough, your doctor will prescribe something like two cockroach feet for breakfast, a bite of a shark fin for lunch and before bedtime crushed millipede :). Well, who wouldn’t buy it! Healthy as a fish.
What you see in the picture is a jacket, sown with threads of gold and silver (not real of course). It looks excellently handmade. It was purchased and I believe that we will use it in the SuperStar this year (2015) for some crazy number.
Polyester- beloved material. Charming design indeed.
Swimming pool on the hotel roof overlooks my colleague’s windows!!! Veronika – Director of ExtravaDansa Asia lives in the house you see in the picture :)
At the airport, a mass of people going crazy. I look around to find out what was happening and it was some Chinese superstars… Guys looked stylish, I must admit.