10 more things to love about Hong Kong

Mr Tall has spent a lot of time making snide remarks about things in Hong Kong. He's complained. He's made fun. He's had, to use Mother Tall's phrase, a smart mouth and a bad attitude.

This is no good, because the truth is, Mr Tall is very fond of living in Hong Kong, and right now, at least, would not want to live anywhere else. So, to promote balance at Batgung, to counterweight the yang with some yin, I'm following up Mr B's top ten list of things to love about Hong Kong with my own. He's already taken a lot of the best ones, so I'll try to avoid repeating his list. Let me underscore, however, his choices of the safety, the countryside, the salaries tax, the food(!), and the women(!!).

So, without further ado, my top 10 things to love about Hong Kong:

1. The water
As I am endlessly fond of reminding those more fortunate, I grew up over 1,000 miles from the nearest ocean. I didn't set eyes on a legitimate body of salt water until I was 18. Now I've got a great ocean view to greet my orbs every morning.

2. The urban intensity
My landlocked birthplace is also a really small town. Even after over a decade in Hong Kong, I can't get enough of the energy and intensity of this city's streets. I'll stop here, before I lapse into pure cliché, and use the words 'hustle and bustle'; (Mr B, please do that pillow-over-my-face thing like in 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest'; if I ever use that phrase unironically.)

3. The naked ambition
Western societies these days are saturated with pious moralizing about nearly every topic you can think of, from politics to race to education to the environment to art to food. Hong Kong people want to make money, eat well, and keep their kids whipped into shape, and sometimes this straightforwardness is utterly refreshing.

4. The sheer guts
Many of the people walking Hong Kong's streets risked their lives to escape China's totalitarian idiocies, especially in the 1950s and 60s. Many of them then worked so hard for so long it makes me whimper just to think about it; and thereby made Hong Kong the success it is.

5. Public housing markets
I am amused sometimes by Hong Kong expats who rave about shopping in 'authentic' street markets in trips to Thailand or Indonesia, but who would not be caught dead in a sealed coffin visiting an 'authentic' market in Hong Kong, i.e. the ones that snake through the lower levels of many of Hong Kong's housing estates. I love these markets, in particular the 'dai pai dongs' and 'chaan tengs', the on-the-street eating places that feature all kinds of weird and (sometimes) wonderful Cantonese traditional snacks and dishes. Mrs T, in fact, laments the fact that many of these places are closing as the older public housing estates are demolished and rebuilt.

6. It's a Travel Launching Pad
Hong Kong is a well-situated base from which to travel. It's about halfway between Tokyo and Singapore (not that those are the two premium destinations in these parts!) so it's a relatively short flight to all sorts of tasty Asian holiday options involving beaches, sun, sand, and girls in long, completely opaque bathrobes obscuring their bikini-clad forms (gotta cover my own bits in case Mrs T reads this).

7. The colonial legacy
One reasons it's relatively easy for expats to adjust to Hong Kong life is the enduring infrastructure the British left behind, from the public libraries to the well-maintained hiking trails to (what's left of) the rule of law. It balances off the 'foreignness' -- which, as Mr B rightly points out, is a good thing, but not in megadoses!

8. The hotels
Hong Kong has many top-class hotels, but they're not just for the rich and famous. Their restaurants and cafes provide stylish meeting places for lots and lots of Hong Kong people, even rubes like me.

9. The sense that you're 'living in the future'
It's not just the Blade-Runneresque Hong Kong cityscapes that create this feeling, it's also the edginess of Hong Kong's political situation on the margin of an ancient empire that may or may not explode or implode or who knows what in coming years. Keeps you on your toes.

10. 'Vitasoy Pure Soya Bean Extract: With No Sugar Added'
on my muesli in the morning. How Mr B can maintain his trim figure on that super-sweet malted stuff is beyond me!


Love the blog

It is quite surprising to be living on an island surrounded by water as I grew up where the biggest body of water was a lake.  I also agree about the 'living in the future' part as when I first got here, I felt like Arnold in Total Recall!  Check out my website my friend made about places for expats in hong kong at http://www.hkexpatmap.com.