Every city in the world, especially those not in Europe or North America, has been described as “a city of contradictions.” But whatever, Hong Kong is a city of contradictions and I’m not going to apologize for saying so. Yesterday we got on a bus in Hong Kong’s financial district, amidst gargantuan skyscrapers with claws protruding upwards, and in twenty minutes we were on a winding mountain road overlooking the South China Sea. Some of the buildings on that end were neo-colonial villas, others were gargantuan hotels and apartment buildings (one such building had a giant square hole in it, for better feng shui). Ultra-Western stores–HMV, Lacoste–rub elbows with tightly-packed Chinese markets; it’s like if you were in Times Square and then went a block and found yourself in Little Italy. It’s exhilarating and disorienting. If everything wasn’t in English as well as Cantonese I’d be overmatched.
We have a great hotel room in Kowloon that faces across the harbor to Hong Kong island. The skyline is gorgeous, it’s colorful enough without the laser light shows the buildings display every night. A number of the skyscrapers show animated Santa Claus displays, because Christmas (often rendered “X’Mas”) is huge here. Carols play everywhere, store clerks wear Santa hats. You’d think that going to a Communist country would be a good way of escaping this kind of thing.
My time isn’t free so I can’t give the full story, but I’m having a really good time. Hong Kong is a really exciting city, and it’s not at all difficult to communicate or get around. It’s great being with my family, and it’s great just being on vacation. We leave for Tokyo on Saturday, which I’m thrilled about; I’ll try to blog again from there. In the meantime, I’ve got to get on a ferry.