China – Hong Kong, China – What Have The Chinese Done To Hong Kong?…

Jul 01, 2012 2 Comments by

China – Hong Kong, China – What Have The Chinese Done To Hong Kong?…

- The Guru

I have been to Hong Kong a few times recently and I thought it was about time I give you my take on this extraordinary place!  I first went there as a teenager at 18 years old and lived and worked there for 6 months.  What on earth have the Chinese done to the place?  It is changed for the worse beyond all recognition!

The short version is I loved it at 18 but now it is a mess….

The long version is at 18 years old I lived in a great place up on The Peak on Hong Kong Island.  It was an awesome apartment with views to the sea on both sides of the Island and I only had the privilege of living there because I was staying with my best friend and his father was some high ranking officer in the British Navy. I think he was the head of catering for the other officers – important stuff!  Anyway, that address, Mount Austen Mansions is probably priceless to live in today if you can get in there at all!

I worked in the NAAFI store by day in a big tower called HMS Tamar on the island which is no more… It’s now an insurance building of some sort.  I also worked in Mong Kok by night is a language school at 400 (and something) Nathan Road.  I was teaching some lovely Chinese people and then going out for fun with them afterwards.  Oh, those were good days and I miss them…

China – Hong Kong, China – What Have The Chinese Done To Hong Kong?…

China – Hong Kong, China – What Have The Chinese Done To Hong Kong?…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to the story now.  In those days, things were different.  You arrived at Kai Tak airport which was a small runway outcrop going onto the sea in Kowloon side.  It felt like it was all going wrong as the pilot had to take a very close run in over the mountains to lose altitude to manage to land properly or you were in the sea off the end of the runway!  I spent many evenings lying on my back on some tall building in Mong Kok with a friend or two watching the planes with their under carriages nearly scratching my face as they came in so low.  That is all gone now as the sparkling new Chek Lap Kok Airport on a nearby island has replaced it since 1998.  It is a nice airport but it is a very long way to get to your plane from the central area so allow an hour or so unless you have rollerblades on!

The journey in to from the airport can be accomplished easily by taxi or the high speed train.  I like the train but I don’t like the way the recorded woman’s voice cannot manage to stop telling you every two minutes that you are on the train!  I mean I worked that one out my dear…  You can get off in the middle of nowhere in the suburbs or go to Kowloon or Hong Kong Island.  Now that’s where it all gets interesting…

I made a trip to HK last year for the Chinese New Year (CNY) and it was miserable.  Apart from being freezing cold I stayed in the wrong place – Kowloon Side!  I actually was in a lovely hotel in Mong Kok called the Langham Place and it is a very nice hotel indeed but all around it is horrible.  Dreary shops in the shopping centres, swarms of people all shuffling aimlessly around smoking and chatting on their ear phones.  Ugghh… I never wanted to come back and I felt the magic of HK from my early days was lost forever.  I mean even the street markets serving food from a wok lit by a huge Bunsen Burner were gone!  In their place are a million gold shops…

We had cocktails in the Peninsular Hotel then saw the fireworks whilst shivering outside after an over-priced dinner in another swanky hotel on the harbour front and only the Star Ferry ride was nostalgic and fun.  Even the Peak Railway has been changed and is too busy and touristy now…

But then I discovered the bit they don’t tell you very readily in the guide books!  Unless you are Chinese visiting family, stay on the Island… Oh, what a difference!

The island life is a different ‘kettle of fish’ indeed. The last two visits I have made this year I have not set foot off the island and I have had a great time.  The Island side has its own lifestyle all of its own.  There are shops, bars, restaurants, offices, hiking trails, massage parlours, even the old trams and in fact all you need to hang out for a week without venturing away.

China – Hong Kong, China – What Have The Chinese Done To Hong Kong?…

China – Hong Kong, China – What Have The Chinese Done To Hong Kong?…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I stayed in a medium level, but good value, hotel in Wanchai district called the Novotel Century.  Rooms are a bit small and spartan but the location, gym and food are all awesome.  Within minutes you are in the entertainment areas and whether you are seeking good restaurants, great bars, live music or late night bars, it’s all there.  Of course, Wanchai is also the red light district but it’s tame and easy to navigate around.  Unlike Bangkok where every street is a series of available and pestering women calling you oh so handsome, here you only have to handle the odd couple of highly motivated girls trying to drag you in to an overpriced go-go bar – they are normally Thai too by the way!

Interestingly, the girls here are very diverse.  There are the local Chinese mainland girls coming down for some extra income or sadly having no choice at the hands of their evil pimp.  But also if you go into the late night music venues you see this amazingly eclectic array of international beauties.  I would not know the full details myself of course (!) but my friend reliably tells me there are corners of the bars where they all group – Thai girls looking snooty as they do on the left, Filipina girls looking happy and chatty on the right, Vietnamese girls looking very sexy anywhere, Indonesian girls looking like the girl next door and even Columbian girls looking like their bodies cannot take the weight of their ample chests!

Anyway, if that’s your thing, you’ll have a ball apparently…  If not, avoid late night drinking in Wanchai.  The great thing is that you can go late night drinking in many other areas of the island and there is an amazing array of bars, restaurants, clubs and more all frequented by a nice mix of Western and Asian clientele.  There are some seriously really pretty people here of all racial backgrounds and it is so nice to see them all mulling around together by day and by night…

China – Hong Kong, China – What Have The Chinese Done To Hong Kong?…

China – Hong Kong, China – What Have The Chinese Done To Hong Kong?…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the day, the Island life offers a choice of hiking up the side of the hills, visiting the harbours on the far side or working very hard in the business district if you have to.  And Hong Kongers really do work very hard indeed for the most part.  HK has the work hard, play hard attitude down to an art and you can just smell the success as you walk around.  Guys in sharp suits, yummy-mummies in their day-time exercise gear spending hubby’s money and charming mixed race folk all going about their daily chores.  The only downside to life here is the high prices and lack of decent-sized accommodation.  Everything is so cramped but I guess that is the charm of the place!

So in summary, I love Hong Kong despite what the Chinese have done to it and I highly recommend it for a visit but living in a shoe box and burning my way through my wallet in record time doesn’t make it viable for the long term.  Compared to Thailand for example, the cost of living is as much as four times as high so you have to be in good employment to survive the lifestyle there or it’s going to be very boring for you!  Let’s hope the jobs hold out as many seem to be in some danger right now and that could signal a big change in the lifestyle there.  For now Hong KOng island is still not too Chinese!

What do YOU think of Hong Kong?

The Guru

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I have traveled and lived all over the world - 95 countries and counting! I have information you can't find elsewhere and I share it here to promote healthy discussion about the world's people and cultures.

2 Responses to “China – Hong Kong, China – What Have The Chinese Done To Hong Kong?…”

  1. Jamie C says:

    Guru

    I have lived in HK for the past 25 years and I have to say that I disagree with you. I have not seen anything get worse in HK, on the contrary it is better year by year.

    The Chinese have brought more civilization to HK but then I am Chinese so I would say that!

    Good article though…

    Jamie Chen

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    • The Guru says:

      Hi Jamie

      I can imagine that being Chinese you like the changes but you must admit a lot of the charm has gone, surely?

      When I was there it was a really magical place. Now it has a feeling of industrial and function on the Kowloon side (the Island has kept its charm better) and places like MongKok used to be really fun at night with food vendors everywhere but now just jewellery and phone shops abound!

      The Guru

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