It has been an interesting three weeks to say the least. I have already eaten more rice than is probably advisable for yearly consumption, explored the most densely populated place on the planet, and had two Chinese girls ask to get their photo taken with me for some unknown reason. The culture shock for Hong Kong was actually worse than it was moving to Japan which surprised me. As strange as some of my instances have been I have also had some truly extraordinary moments filled with wonder and awe. I think I’m going to like it here.
As unknowingly novice as I still am, I have compiled a short list of things about Hong Kong that jumped out at me right away.
No, it’s true that I haven’t visited every big city, but I would be willing to bet a pretty penny that there isn’t a better subway system in the whole world than Hong Kong’s mass transit railway or MTR. Not only is it always on time and frequent but it’s dirt cheap! You can travel anywhere in the city for less than US$2.00. Yes, it’s crowded and the claustrophobic should avoid it during rush hour, but it is beyond convenient for the majority of residents who do not own cars. (Also, the taxis rarely know where they’re going and the mini buses are roller coasters from hell, so the train is your best bet for public transit.) Oh, and did I mention that they have full wifi service on the trains? You can be 50 feet underground (or water) in a metal tube and still be tweeting about how much you hate Mondays.
For a city with upwards of 7 million people this place is insanely clean! I mean it! Whether it’s the above stated MTR, a dark alley way, or a open air market, people throw their crap in a bin. I am amazed after living in Los Angeles that a city of this size can stay this beautiful. I thought it was only Disneyland that could be rubbish free. I mean, being real, it is still a city and there may be some crumbs here or there, but overall I am in shock that it is even possible. The truly incredible thing about the cleanliness of this city is due to the next item on this list.
There are crowds and then there are Hong Kong crowds. It’s no shock at all that Hong Kong is home to the most densely populated place on earth. There are people coming out your eyes, ears, noses, and butts in Hong Kong. You can not escape the masses of bodies surrounding you. It’s kind of exciting sometimes and totally aggravating at others. Since moving to HK I have developed walking rage since I have no vehicle to indulge my usual road rants. People walk slowly, diagonally, staring at their phones, and stop without warning in the center of the walkway. If you are the type of person who likes to get places fast, maybe Hong Kong isn’t the best option for you.
I have never seen a place with so many malls. Literally there is a mall on ever corner it seems. There must be some dark magic that keeps all the stores in business because I can’t see how it’s possible. Many of the malls seem to be categorized in districts as well, meaning that all the shoe stores are next to each other, all the backpacking stores are in one corner and all the beauty product chains line one wall. The malls also have crazy impressive Christmas displays as seen above. I must say that I’m going to be sad to see the season and all the reindeer and snowmen go, but apparently dragons show up for Chinese New Year which is so much more badass.
Just google ‘safest countries in the world’ and Hong Kong is always on the list. I knew that going into this adventure but I also knew that cities always feel creepy for a single girl walking home alone at night, right? Wrong. It seriously feels fine strolling alone at 1am (not that I’ve done that, Mum). While living in Los Angeles I was told repeatedly not to make eye contact with guys because it could get you into trouble (which I think is way overboard but I was warned none the less). But having that mindset makes you feel like you must be on guard 24/7. In HK they have had less than 100 homicides each year since 2001, which I think is amazing for a city of over 7 million. I mean, have common sense of course, but if you want to move abroad but are worried about safety then HK is definitely somewhere to look into.