It has been an interesting few days so far in Hong Kong. I have been drenched in tropical storms, spent the afternoon with what seemed like half of China at the Ocean Park water centre and enjoyed the future retro coolness of the Toyota Crown taxis.
Shopping – Hong Kong is famous for its tailors like Raja Fashions, but with their tailors coming to the UK to take measurements and supplying garments by express mail from Hong Kong you don’t need to come here to take advantage of their service. Looking at the shops here Hong Kong-ese are very brand obsessed. In terms of streetwear: Bathing Ape seems to be the dominant brand on the people here.
BAPE wear costs the same as the BAPE shop in London. A surpising amount of the Chinese wear premiership tops. I have seen Chelsea, Liverpool, Blackburn Rovers and Norwich City over the past few days; but thankfully no Manchester United. Electronics is about the same price as home, maybe a bit more expensive than discounters like Morgans, eXpansys or EmpireDirect. Louis Vuitton accessories take on an almost religious experience for the Hong Kong native with the shops looking more like places of worship.
Taxis – London has its black cabs and Hong Kong has its red (or blue cabs for Lantau) with silver roof sections that remind me of the two-tone Ford Capris, Escorts and Granadas of the 1970s. These Toyota Crown Comfort models are descendants of the classic Toyota saloon cars that used to appear in the Yakusa films of the 1960s and 70s with big chrome grills and boxy styling. Inside the cab, the black vinyl interior would be right at home in the 1970s with the exception of the digital meter. However this retro styling is deceptive. The cabs have automatically opening doors to let out the passengers and mostly run on LPG (liquid petroleum gas – which is supposed to be more environmentally friendly than petrol).
Getting a licenced taxi here is cheaper than getting an unlicenced gypsy cab in London. With most of my journeys costing just a few pounds. The only cheaper transport is the famous Star Ferries that cost 2.20 HKD (about 15 pence) to cross from Hong Kong island to Kowloon.
Culture – Hong Kong doesn’t have the diversity of cultural outlets that London has, however it does have a lot to offer: the Hong Kong Art Gallery has a small but quality collection of Chinese art that is as good as the British Museum Chinese collection. Clubbing seems to be on a much smaller scale and way behind the UK. I saw one event advertised in July where they brought over drum and bass DJ Fabio to do an event.
Street life – Personal space is something that takes a bit of getting used to. I went to a water park yesterday and found children and adults zooming in and out of my personal space with the speed and dexterity of London bike couriers weaving through logjammed traffic. Children are generally better behaved than their counterparts in the UK. There is a park and childrens playground close to the apartment I am staying in that is free of both vandalism and graffiti. There is a homeless problem here, but it isn’t as visible as in central London, I only really noticed it when I went to Kowloon.
Weather – Although Hong Kong usually is 35 celsius plus during this time of year there is rarely a blue sky. Clouds boil up and there is often a deluge during the evening, so getting anywhere requires the cheap taxi service unless you want to get soaked to the bone. I found that five hours in the heat is enough to knock me for six.