Hong Kong

Ben and I from our vantage point on Victoria's Peak.

Although we had already celebrated Ben’s birthday with a group of friends at our favorite hole-in-the-wall complete with free pitchers and a birthday cake, a few of Ben’s coworkers thought that his birthday was the perfect excuse to venture out of the country for a quick weekend trip. Destination: Hong Kong.

 

Now, depending who you ask Hong Kong is part of the People’s Republic of China. However, the truth is that it is as much part of China as it is separate. This lovely city belonged to the UK until 1997 when, in an act of goodwill, they handed it over to the PRC with the stipulation that Hong Kong could maintain its own government while it was gradually absorbed into the mainland over the span of 50 years. They call it the “one government, two systems” policy. Clever.

A view of Hong Kong and Victoria Harbor from the famous Victoria's Peak.

 

But besides a quirky new addition to our passports’ stamp collection, Hong Kong was a great time out of the city. Having never been to Hong Kong before, we were really surprised at how different it is from mainland China. It doesn’t even feel like you’re in China. It’s more like you are in a country that is 1/3 of China’s history and culture, 1/3 of Britain’s personality and etiquette, and 1/3 of the USA’s modernity and diversity.

 

In China we’re used to being stared at, in fact, it’s not uncommon for people to whisper ‘laowai’ and point us out to their friends, stumble, or snap a photo when we pass by. But in Hong Kong, there are tons of foreigners and more people speak English than Mandarin (Cantonese is the first language of choice).

 

Plus, it’s clean! People aren’t downing their drinks and tossing their bottles haphazardly to the side of a building and mothers aren’t helping their children pee onto the plants decorating the sidewalk Yesterday I watched a grandfather help his grandson pee into a potted plant less than 10 meters from a restroom- in my school! There wasn’t even the foreboding sound of an army of old men hocking lougies onto the sidewalk. Clearing your throat frequently may be considered good for your health, but it’s not for mine!

 

Oh! And people queue up! When getting onto the bus or metro, no one pushes or shoves to eagerly assure themselves a place.Instead, Hong Kongers line up politely and calmly file onto the metro. It’s heavenly.

 

Don’t even get me started on the clean air and smog-free blue skies we saw there.

 

Me connecting spiritually with Chén Gǎngshēng (Jackie Chan) at the Walk of the Stars.

However refreshing it was to see Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan’s homeland, it turned our love for Guangzhou just a little sour. Things that we had accepted as part of our experience we’ve begun to question and detest in a way that perhaps we wouldn’t have done normally. Luckily, the past month has made us come into a new way of acceptance. It’s the way it is and may be beyond our power, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to forsake our own culture by elbowing our way onto the metro… often. (When in Rome, right?)

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