14 April 2007

Hong Kong

Having just returned from a week in Hong Kong, I am smiling. Is it the almost untrammelled free market capitalism? Is it the friendly kindliness that almost all of the locals displayed, albeit most trying to get me to part with $HK? Is it the fact that Easter was almost impossible to detect, as I was shopping at Causeway Bay at 9.30pm Monday evening and the place was more alive than Queen Street any night of the week? Is it the fact that I got 15$HKD for every £1? Is it the £280 I spent getting two high quality suits and five shirts at a tailor recommended to me by a good friend (who always dresses impeccably)? Is it the reliable fast and unsubsidised metro system? Is it the cheap and good Chinese food? Is it Air NZ upgrading me both ways to maintain my “never fly economy class longhaul policy”? Is it the complete lack of chavvy/bogan Brits (except a few in Kowloon around the markets looking to buy crap)? Is it the incredible range of goods you can buy at market prices?
I don’t care – it’s a fantastic way to break up a trip between NZ and Europe. It beats Singapore for shopping hands down, and climate – a perfectly pleasant 18-23 degrees not the stinking humid 30 degrees, as well not being the stuffy fear driven smiling face of nanny state.
Yes there were things to complain about, the smog, the annoying little South Asian men offering “copy watch” or “copy bag” every 15 seconds or so in Kowloon (glad I stayed on Hong Kong Island), the preponderance of utter crap in the night markets that would suit chivvy/bogan Brits to their white stilettos and baseball caps. However it has awoken me to some of the splendour of Chinese culture, the appreciation for education, hard work, respect for the elderly, and the fact that as I was taller than most people they simply got out of my way (and I’m only 5’10”). I wonder, do elderly people get mugged and murdered and raped there? Do children get neglected and ignored by whinging trashy parents demanding more money from the government while they sit on their arses?
In addition, I noted that there is no competition law in Hong Kong - though there is much discussion about it, but also department stores and malls have a tendency to have competing shops or franchises for similar products (e.g. bedding, clothes). It may be unconnected, but somehow Hong Kong has found ways to avoid free market capitalism being this monopolistic behemoth that so scares the left.
So given the variety of options to fly to Hong Kong from London, cheaply (particularly Air NZ, Virgin, BA and Oasis which all offer either premium economy or cheap enough business class to make the 12-13 hours tolerable), I can see HK being an annual trip.


Rick said...

Hmm, now. That's the first time I've felt like I might want to go there too.

Callum said...

It'd be an amazing place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there, unless I got a private island or something!