A couple of weeks ago, en route to Hong Kong, I stopped by the fabric market in Shenzhen to order a suit. Getting a suit made in China is very cheap. I got a custom tailored suit made for $80.
Traveling to Hong Kong is not so easy.
I wandered out of the fabric market. I was going to ask one of the million chinese for directions to the subway station. But, I ran into a group of Filipinas who were happy to take me to the station.They were staying in a group home in Shenzhen while their visa’s were processed to go back to Hong Kong.
The border is a strange setup. Even though HK and SZ are technically part of the same country, you cannot travel freely between the two areas. Instead, you have pass through customs on the Chinese side of the river, then walk across a bridge to HK, and go through customs. The whole process took close to an hour. The average Mainland citizen cannot travel into HK. It takes a special visa.
(Until recently mainland Chinese could not even travel into SZ without a special visa. When you take the highway out to the SZ airport, you pass the now empty customs hall that would process Chinese coming into the city.)
One huge difference between HK and China is the censorship. I happened to travel on a certain anniversary of a massacre in the capital. (I hope that sentence is vague enough to avoid the censors. I still want to access this blog while I’m here.) SZ had no news about the anniversary and there were no protests. In contrast, the news program that was playing in the Subway in HK was showing video of the original event. I got off at the Causeway bay station, which also happened to be the rallying point for the protests in HK. There were at least 5,000 people in front of the station protesting, passing out literature, and talking about the anniversary. The paper the following day stated there were close to 115,000 people protesting in the main park a few blocks away from my stop. (There was also a large contingent of police milling the streets, but I didn’t see them intervene at all.)
In Hong Kong, I stayed with my cousin Matt and his wife Mitra. They have a cute little apartment in the happy valley area of Hong Kong.
This is their playful dog Oliver.
Hong Kong is a really fun city and interesting city. It has an incredible history. It was not much more than a craggy outcrop when Britain acquired after the First Opium War. From that beginning, it has turned in to an international powerhouse of a city.
There are people from all walks of life in the city from poor immigrants from South East asia to wealthy businessmen.
This guy and his kid were returning from a trip to Disneyland. He is an investment banker in Beijing and was telling me all about his new G class Merc, which cost him $250,000 USD with import taxes.
One amazing sight was the number of luxury cars that you see, because it is so expensive to own a car in Hong Kong, only the very rich have cars. Thus, the people who can afford cars can afford very nice cars. Every block I would see Porsche Carreras, Benz S Class, Maseratis, Bentleys and Rolls. It was crazy.
Here is an example: Ferrari
Since very few can afford cars, the public transportation system in the city is robust. It has a great subway and bus system. It also has this very entertaining double deck trolley system, which slowly pulls you through the city to your destination. Matt mentioned his firm rented one of the trolleys for a private party and had it pull him and some visiting clients through the city.
I was also in Hong Kong the night of the US-Slovenia Game. Yea, I said night because the world cup schedule here is late. The games are 19:00, 22:00, and 2:30 am. It has made watching the world cup a little troublesome, but I’ve tried to catch the big games. As for the night in HK, Matt and I went down to Wanchai, which is a large expat area. There is a horseshoe shaped road that is lined on both sides with foreign style pubs. We plopped ourselves down in a nice english style pub to watch the game. It was some good times. The place was packed with fans from both sides of the match. We a couple of good shouting matches of U..S..A.. v. Slo..ven..ia. Here is photo of the area during the day.
It is foreign enough to be interesting, yet civilized enough to be familiar. As seen below, you can buy black chicken from an outside vendor. (This guy was right next to a McDonalds)