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The diaTribe blog is our occasional take on life, the universe and everything. Observations on current affairs, the environment, politics, humour and music/gig reviews. Travel diary and extreme sports stories, along with the usual rants/raves are also chucked in for good measure.

September 2010
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Hangin’ in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Markets

Well, it’s almost time to fly again.

I’ve spent the last 5 days in Hong Kong, braving the drippy-wet humidity levels, the bursts of torrential rain that are always a part of the Typhoon season and for some reason a large influx of extremely fat, loud, crass aussies, in their “best” clobber (i.e. grotty old Bermuda shorts, tank tops and floppy sandals…Jeez, what’s with that?)

That aside, it’s been a fun trip as always. As well as the previously reported trip to Macau, I also found time to visit the Avenue of Stars, visit the Wong Tai Sin temple and the Hong Kong Museum of History…in between the usual window shopping on Nathan Road and the great food at any number of restaurants, cafes and street stalls, all located just off the main drag.

Although my hotel room was a little bit small, the hotel itself was fairly reasonably priced, had all the usual facilities, along with a few small extras (like free bottled water at reception and free internet cafe access) and was located conveniently close to Temple Street, home of some excellent seafood restaurants and the night markets. Also within spitting distance was a 7-11, a foreign exchange bureau offering reasonable rates, an airport shuttle taxi stand and a decent wee cafe/bar. They also gave me a reasonable deal on a late checkout. Excellent!

Despite the still-reasonable hotel prices (especially compared to the UK!) I couldn’t help but notice that prices in general have risen significantly in the last year or so. Hong Kong seems to have shrugged off much of the recession doom-and-gloom and is enjoying something of a mini-economic boom…which inevitably leads to increased property prices, rents and – eventually – increased consumer prices across the board. That, plus the extremely shitty GBP value has made the trip more expensive than expected, but not hugely so.

There are also other subtle changes; a few more elderly homeless people are visible, especially at night. A significant portion of the previously rather straight-laced market area has been taken over by adult entertainment shops, flogging DVD’s by the score. The copy-watch and tailor touts are more prevalent than they were, but hey – this is Nathan road after all. wink

Still, the place remains clean and tidy – much more so than it ever was under British rule. The TV abounds with a whole range of public-service ads, broadcast during prime time and which deal with everything from fire prevention, to rodent control, to new anti-smoking legislation and cultural heritage preservation. Citizens are invited to take part in a range of public consultations on a variety of planning issues which will affect their lives and everywhere, there are PR campaigns expousing the benefits of physical fitness and a good education.

By western standards this may seem a little nanny state-like, but it’s not pushed down your throat. The authorities seem to have found the right balance between stick and carrot and for every issue that involves a penalty, there seems to be one which espouses benefits.

Perhaps it’s the humidity and the heavy rain, or perhaps it’s other thoughts on my mind (or just the censored aussies), but this trip I never quite seemed to “click” with Hong Kong, in the way I always have done before. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but for the first time in all my trips here, I’m looking forward to heading out.

That probably says more about me than Hong Kong though…

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2 Comments for: Hangin’ in Hong Kong

  1. Visitor Comment # 1
    Daphne Morris : (Visitor)

    I know what you mean, sometimes it’s possible to get too much of a good thing. I always loved Bangkok and visited it regularly, but the last trip I made made was the same as you describe.

  2. Author Comment # 2

    It was better on the return trip when Su and I stopped over for a few days – maybe it was just the humidity. ;-)

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