The past week have me in Hong Kong – a place very much like Singapore, except the lack of too many strict regulation/enforcement as well as a livelier culture. The living standards are quite very similar but the city presents a totally different path of evolution from Singapore. In Hong Kong, just as all human geographers postulate, the building front prices are the highest and most heavily utilized, as compared to Singapore where the government (as well as retailers and customers) will probably prefer to shop indoors. The city is shaped purely by capitalistic needs and thus space utility is really high in the Central. I realized that their shopping areas are severely restricted to the outdoor streets though there are lots of new shopping malls that feature a whole building of stores/departmental stores. Buildings, commercial ones are usually filled with retail activity on their outside, with tiny lift lobby that will lead upstairs, to the offices that the building’s primarily houses.
Perhaps because of this sort of intensity presented in spatial utility, with residence included (Hong Kong city-dwellers usually live on the apartments above the retail outlets) that allow bare elevated areas around the city. In Singapore, you probably won’t see the tall bare hilly areas but Hong Kong has abundance of them. They prefer to build private apartments on these hilltops, like those near the Repulse Bay. They don’t have public housing, at least not too much – but I guess the price gap isn’t that high relative to Singapore given our high ‘market prices’.
Like Singapore, the Places of Interests in Hong Kong is highly limited. I went to Ocean Park and Hong Kong Disneyland, both different in presentation, system and style but with the same sort of squeeze that we hate to experience, though they are less crowded compared to Japan’s Disneyland and Universal Studios, which are frequent by the locals.
Disneyland was more cozy, albeit small, and the Asian feeling is nice – that is to say that Japan’s Disneyland has a more foreign feeling for me. Ocean Park, in contrast, perhaps because it was raining when I went (and thus extremely biased against that place), lousy, in all kind of sense. You can’t really blame them. The place is old, not run-down but just a little outdated. The exhibits are ‘hi-tech’ in a sense and they give you lots of knowledge (the place was built for educational purpose initially) but presented in this arcane way like Singapore Bird Park or the Crocodile Farm a few years ago.
But there’s something we must admire about the place – their Mother Tongue retention. Perhaps, that’s just part of Cantonese Culture (even in Singapore, the dialect retention of Cantonese families are the highest), but the fact that the language operates almost at all levels of the place even when English is used very frequently in more high-end areas. I personally can only understand Cantonese a little, and speak no more than 50 words of it but the dialect variant in Hong Kong has taken an exceptionally interesting path that perhaps no other Chinese dialects in this world have evolved. They have lots of loan words from English and they have this very impressionistic use of their vocabulary. An example, ‘Qi Xint’, which literally translates to ‘Wires sticking together’, which is supposed to be a literal description of what happens to cause a short circuit, is used to describe a person behaving insanely. Today, this term, which originate from Hong Kong, can be spoken to the equivalence of our Singlish’s ‘Siao’.
On the other note, when they want to describe the fact that a couple’s relationship is on the decline, they use a phrase that literally translates into ‘Throwing Pots’. I guess you can visualize what happens when Hong Kong couples quarrel. Oh yes, the street food there are good, and in general, while the food prices in Hong Kong and Singapore are about the same, the food there always taste better – something not accounted for in the GDP.