Hong Kong is an open city

HONG KONG - just Hong Kong


by JANA KITZINGER on May 6th, 2017

After Shanghai highlights and Taiwan madness, we made our way to Hong Kong. Although we were given three additional hours at the airport in Taipei to search for a cool hashtag for the last stop on our media trip (defective plane ...), we simply couldn't think of anyone who would have done justice to this amazing city:
# 1 Right left right

Crossing the street in Hong Kong is a bit reminiscent of London - there are instructions on the floor everywhere about the direction in which to look for taxi cabs. Better that way, because there is left-hand traffic here! Hong Kong was under British rule from 1841 and was transferred to the People's Republic of China in 1997.

# 2 Not all China is created equal

Although Hong Kong is now officially part of China again, thanks to the contractual stipulation as a special administrative zone it has secured a special status until 2047. A largely independent government, free market economy and freedom of the press are just three of the main differences to the People's Republic. The Internet is also free here and can be used beyond the Great Firewall.

# 3 Occupy Central

When the Chinese government decided in 2014 to use a committee to determine the candidates for the office of head of administration and only then to submit them to free election by the people, the well-known “umbrella movement” was formed. The protesters used yellow umbrellas to protect themselves from police pepper spray. The action ebbed by the end of 2014 - three years later, however, it is still hotly debated, especially among the younger generation.

# 4 Different countries, different customs

SAR or not, the typical Chinese customs that we have already described to you here are also lived in Hong Kong. Not exactly the fine English way. We had gotten used to the - let's say - noisy table manners after Shanghai, but in the Airport Express we reached the limits of our tolerance: a passenger happily cut his fingernails, then filed them and spread all the remains on the floor of the train.
# 5 Reading the newspaper at work

If you work 12 hours a day, you don't have too much time outside of your working hours to read the newspaper, listen to the radio or watch TV. Publishers and radio and TV stations are also feeling this: the startup newspaper HK01 and the public broadcaster RTHK (Radio Television Hong Kong) both told us that their formats are usually consumed during business hours.

# 6 High cost of living

Spoiled by Shanghai and Taiwan, we were amazed when the prices did not differ numerically from those in Taipei - with the subtle difference that we no longer had to divide by 32, but by 8.5 to convert into euros. Hong Kong is one of the cities with the highest cost of living in the world; According to the DAAD, the monthly rents for a tiny room are between 8,000 and 15,000 HK $ - that's 1,000 to 2,000 EUR. The next time we're looking for an apartment in Hamburg, we'll keep this comparison in mind!

# 7 Living in a cube

In Hong Kong, over 7 million people live in just 1104 square kilometers. For comparison: Saarland is more than twice as big and is not home to quite a million people. Now at the latest, the horrendous rental prices are also explained.

"We're living in a cube", summed up our conversation partner at RTHK aptly.
# 8 Out into the green

A total of 263 islands belong to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, so on our penultimate day we got on the ferry and drove to Lamma Island. Get out of the narrow streets, the crowds and the stuffy air in just 30 minutes and get into the holiday feeling! Freshly caught seafood and sand between your feet was just the thing to end the trip.

# 9 Oversized Buddha

The second largest free-standing Buddha in the world sits on Lantau Island, the largest of all 263 islands in the Special Administrative Region. By the way, the largest is in Taiwan. We'd be happy to sit down there!

# 10 work in Hong Kong for two years?

Expats make up almost 5% of Hong Kong's population, most of them working in the financial sector. Mainly French and English from Europe are in the city. And you can tell: In the subway we were often not the only Europeans, we found supermarkets with German products on the shelves and in the SOHO district you have to make an effort to find a traditional Chinese restaurant.

# 11 Startup City Hong Kong

The number of startups in Hong Kong is still rather small in international comparison, but this is exactly what the administration wants to change and is investing immensely in startup funding. We could see that during our visit to Cyberport, a huge facility consisting of office and living space as well as shops for everyday needs. Established tech companies and startups work here under one roof. A few seats were still empty, especially in the fintech area. Who has a good idea?
# 12 Travel the escalator for 20 minutes

This is only possible in Hong Kong, because here there is the longest roofed external escalator system in the world. 20 escalators lined up one behind the other and 3 conveyor belts bridge the 800 meter distance and 135 vertical meters between the Central and Mid-Levels districts. We also liked to use the escalator for food shopping: drive past restaurants on the escalator and look around and if you like, just get out.

# 13 is virtual sport the new Champions League?

According to CNN in Hong Kong: yes! Because the eSports advertising market has not yet been developed, even though the target group of classic sports is getting older and younger viewers are showing more and more interest in eSports. Its own eSports league including all transmission and marketing rights and a social establishment similar to soccer, football, basketball and, and and ... that is the goal of CNN.

Voices from the off

Malte, what did you imagine Hong Kong would mean before you started your trip?

I didn't have any specific ideas, except Hong Kong as a melting pot of international cultures - more so than in other Chinese cities.

What was your favorite company visit?

I liked the visit to Hong Kong University at the China Media Project best: David's lecture was very interesting and has sharpened my impressions from Shanghai and Taiwan so far.

Your highlight and lowlight?

I actually only have highlights: Our hotel and the view from the rooms, the perfect weather on our last days, sitting in the park with locals on Sunday, the architecture and the cityscape: impressive skyscrapers, crumbling houses, old taxis, Teslas and small ones Trams take turns.

What were your impressions when you left Hong Kong?

My expectations for the melting pot Hong Kong were met. I think the city is impressive, scenic and architecturally well worth seeing. This feeling of surprise never left me; that here, for us almost at the other end of the world, there is such a place, with extravagant wealth (so many luxury cars!) next to very simple apartment blocks and bustling main streets where locals and expats go about their business.
Melanie, what did you imagine Hong Kong to be like before you started your trip?

Personally, I was very excited about Hong Kong, as I have family roots there. I was thinking of a colorful, international and open city where you can get a lot with English and, of course, good dim sum.

What was your favorite company visit?

Our visit to CNN inspired me to also become an investigative journalist. I also found it exciting what we were told about Hong Kong people's media consumption.

Your highlight and lowlight?

My highlight for me was the Temple Street Night Market - very large, colorful and typically Chinese and I was even able to bargain. My lowlight was many a company visit that went differently than I had imagined.

What were your impressions when you left Hong Kong?

Hong Kong is a very great city! Very mountainous, many islands, close to the sea, varied landscape. Between the modern buildings there are many older ones, which makes the city authentic. The city still has many little corners that you could discover with more time.
Hanna, what did you imagine Hong Kong would mean before you started your trip?

Due to the colonial era, it was strongly influenced by English and the financial center is world-famous. So a bit like Singapore, only bigger ?!

What was your favorite company visit?

The visit to CNN kept me busy. The Turner / CNN employees talked about their work so passionately that you felt the need to take part immediately, although I don't necessarily have to take a war or disaster report with me to experience it.

Your highlight and lowlight?

My highlight was an evening walk (after the best dim sum meal), which was only supposed to go to the escalators and then stretched further and further until we were sitting at the harbor. Somehow we ended up at Pascal's birthday party in a karaoke bar at the end of the evening.

Unfortunately, Lowlight was that I had to skip a day due to illness. Thanks to the skyline / harbor view from the hotel bed, I felt better again very quickly.

What were your impressions when you left Hong Kong?

I immediately felt at home in Hong Kong! Beijing needs Hong Kong's financial center and grants the Hong Kong people a lot more freedom, despite Beijing's increasing influence. Since Google Maps also worked and there were signposts on every street corner, I couldn't even deceive my sense of direction in Hong Kong.