1. Many cab drivers, service crew personnel, etc. can barely understand, much less speak English.
Ten years ago, my friend had told me Hong Kongians weren’t friendly, but I chalk such an impression to their inability to be more helpful, what with the language barrier.
2. After getting a hang of it, the MTR train system was quite fun. It’s amazing what large amounts of capital can do, even when operations are conducted by governments.
This is not so much a testament to ‘good governance’ as it is to freeing trade. We have to consider that there is an opportunity cost even with the most efficient government infrastructure.
3. I didn’t eat much Chinese/Hong Kong food while there, but I actually prefer the ‘inauthentic’ stuff they make here in the Philippines. Labeling foods as ‘Chinese’ or ‘Filipino’ or whatever limits the evolutionary possibilities of cuisine.
4. At Harbour City, some big Indian guy went up to me and said, “You know you’re lucky,” and proceeded to give me favorable predictions for the rather near future. I was trying to politely get away but he kept ‘hooking’ me with harmless questions, and then finally he told me to give him HK$100.
|The scene just before being |
accosted by the fortune teller.
The fucker! He said it was going to charity, and that it’s bad karma or something if I refused. I ended up handing him $10 and told him I didn’t ask for his ‘service,’ and finally I walked away.
In spite of my annoying experience, there was no real threat to my life (it would have been different if he was armed, or had accomplices to detain me). At the time, I imagined someone might grab me, but that was a figment of my paranoia.
|Crummy view from my room.|
I wouldn’t consider his ‘livelihood’ a coercive one, but I don’t see it being tolerated for too long by private property owners, who wouldn’t want their customers harrassed.
5. All in all, I expected things to be more developed. The area where I stayed was a relative dump, with buildings half-constructed or abandoned, and garbage bags around. I guess I expected too much, but also, it goes to show that anywhere, a rich-poor divide remains.
Looking at the shops, I didn’t get the impression of the place being a financial capital. Why the disconnect in spite of the free flow of capital? I’d hazard central banking as one culprit.