Following Fernando’s series on Hong Kong Favourites, I’ve decided to step in and add my own list. Being very critical of Hong Kong – or at least of the locals and their lack of manners – I thought it would be a good idea to balance the negativity with some positive feedback. I won’t go as far as scrambling desperately for 25 items, as it might be a stretch. But there’s a few.
This is by far the best thing that happened in Hong Kong, at least to me… Being able, first as a Frequent Traveler (sic), then as a legal resident, to enter and leave Hong Kong through a subway-like gate, using just my thumb (and identification), without any human interaction, is nothing short of a miracle. Every country should be this way.
By Immigration, I mean the policy of letting in (or not) people to stay – and the people managing that. Not the procedure of letting people in and out at airports and ports. That’s what #1 was for 🙂 For someone who’s had to deal with the not-so-latent racism and the chicanery of Korean immigration officers, both at airports and at the local version of the Immigration Department, dealing with Immigration in Hong Kong (mostly in their Wanchai HQ) is surprisingly pleasant and efficient. I am not saying HK is free of racism or chicanery – a friend who married a Pinay (not a maid, even) had to go something like 5 times to Immigration to prove they were really married (Shall we shag here and now? he asked) and that he could really take care of her (Do you think 80K a month is enough? How much do you make?). But generally speaking, people are treated fairly, and efficiently. And after seven years you might be able to apply for PR.
- The food
While Cantonese food is not my favourite, it is indeed pleasant, and one of the things that makes living in HK bearable. But what’s really good about food in HK is that it’s not limited, like in some countries I’ve been to, to the local cuisine and some immensely bad crypto-Western fodder. There’s a lot to eat, and it’s usually authentic. I get easily bored if I have to eat the same food several days in a row – Koreans don’t, they actually need to eat the same thing every day. Sad sods. Nepalese, Indian of course, Thai, Malaysian, Jordanian, real French and Italian, Sichuan, etc, etc…
- Cathay Pacific
I don’t travel as much as I used to, but when I did – 200+ flights in 2.5 years – I really came to appreciate CX’s (and its sister airline Dragon Air, aka KA) service. Pleasant people, outstanding lounges, comfortable seats, regular upgrades (to first class too…). This experience was reinforced by the regular trips I took to France with Air France. Now that is a bad airline with outstandingly bad service.
- Kam Tin 錦田
I looked into moving there last year – it was actually hard to find a place, as people living there seem never to move out, and when they do, the flat is snapped up quickly. There’s an MTR station nearby, and lots of buses, so it’s convenient enough. The area is quiet, tucked away from the big developments, while not being completely isolated. The advantages of both living in a city and in the countryside. And it’s home to Kat Hing Wai, my favourite walled village.