Why HK?


“Among all the countries, why chose HK?” I asked my foreign friend as we were wandering around in Tsim Sha Shui.

“Some years ago, I went to HK and I LOVED this place.”



I don’t understand why people want to move here, to be honest. HK got many social problems like overcrowdedness and political interference from China. We aren’t the most literate place. We have one of the most expensive properties on earth. There should be no reason for foreigners to come here.

Two buildings in Kung Tong. A modern, well-built one on the left which seems to have a garden on the top left corner. An old, dirty one on the right which seems abandoned.

😦 Miserable living condition and Lack of Life Education

On Tuesday today, I decide to wander around between Kung Tong and Yau Tong.

In the morning, people flock from the Kung Tong MTR station. Some dress in proper, formal shirt, some in casual clothes. But, they all come here for the same reason — work.

That’s people in HK: work, work, and work. Most employers and employees aren’t aware of work-life balance. Some even are workaholics. That’s an extreme. Finding our meaning of life or even interests aren’t in our school’s teaching list; A massive series of academic subjects is (aka. Chinese, English, Mathematics, Chemistry, Liberal Studies….).

Things won’t just happen themselves. For students, they won’t discover what they like unless they tried it. Some lucky ones have the chance because of their educated parents; most don’t. Until the society forces them to dedicate their lives to money, they live in their virtual reality or fantasy. Then, one day somebody tells them they have no time to think about their interests and dream anymore. Like walking dead, they can only work, eat, sleep, and poo every day.

Most don’t want to work. They want to do things they love. Who wants to work, anyway? But, what are the other options apart from work? Interest? No. ‘If I don’t have to work, I’ll stay at home all day and do nothing.’ That’s what people will tell you.

And, you aren’t allowed to do so either. The society will push you to work. Lunch and transportation are examples. The living cost is so high that people would spend all their money they earn from working for 1 hour in one lunch. ($50 for hourly wage and $50 for a lunch)

How about transportation? You’re the lucky ones if you only pay under $10 for it. For most of us? Although I’m not working, I could feel the pressure when my student octopus card became invalid (which halves my MTR transportation fee). I live in the far north. And, if I travel to the heart of HK, I have to pay $20 (plus $20 for the return). Then, in total, just to have my lunch and travel to places, my two-hour wage would have been robbed. That’s why people in HK have to work REALLY hard to earn just some cash.

😦 Overly Practical Mindset and Materialism

Also, Hong Kong people are schizophrenic. They don’t want to be controlled but they want rules that can be followed. They want to try a new restaurant but they are scared to have found that the food is nasty. You’ll find that we’re constantly thinking against our own will.

It’s rather hard to explain our subconscious mind in words. I personally think there are some reasons for it. Thus, I chose these photos from Kung Tong.

Badly-maintained one on the left and polished one on the right.

This is where we live. You’ll see our buildings are mixed, good ones and bad ones. We don’t have much free space. Buildings are squashed. We see these views every day. Maybe that doesn’t quite prove anything.

But, if one has a little bit artistic sense, I believe one may not put something old and new together. It’s like you wouldn’t produce an album which has songs in 20’s and 90’s, let alone randomly putting buildings to the place we live.

However, we’re too practical. Disregard whether buildings complement each other or not, we’ll fit people in because there are people not having cheap apartments. Resources are insufficient to cater everyone in HK. Thus, in the moment we were born, we need to snatch our things wherever possible. Otherwise, someone will take it for you, including opportunities for earning money.

This mindset can be also explained by that fact that we pay little attention to arts. We think arts is totally abstract. No real value comes out of it. We think business and science are some ‘real, tangible, hard’ subjects so parents encourage or force their children to study those. I think it is a shame

Therefore, this mindset makes HK people never satisfy. In our mind already exists a sense of esthetics. But, on the other side of our brain, we think that’s not pragmatic. We love arts? Maybe we should love money.

It links up to the education part we’ve just discussed too. Dream won’t guarantee you success nor wealth. Many people don’t bother to teach finding your own passion. A safe accommodation and food are far more important than that.

So, our culture shapes us to be a meaningless pile of mess. A walking body on the street.

Industrial buildings.

We make the most 99.999% of our resources. Apartments are built like lego bricks. We have too many people but only one lego base. Thus, we establish everybody’s ‘wonderful art piece’ on the same base, and up every corner of it. Poorly planned. Squashed. Contrasting. In a word, mess.

But, is Hong Kong ugly? Is Hong Kong that bad?

🙂 Mysterious Downtown

Some days ago, my foreign friend and I got no sense of direction of the restaurant we wanted to go. He halted and checked Google Maps in the middle of the street. Then, left-turned into a dark alley where I saw rubbish bags, sewage, rats and graffiti on the walls. I was scared to death, eyes busy looking at the floor to confirm I wouldn’t step on anything disgusting. That’s the first experience I’ve been in a dark and dirty alley in HK.

An alley in Kung Tong. It’s super clean compared with the one I’ve been in Tsim Sha Shui.

If it’s not him, I’ll never go into one of these alleys. Looking for the lights is what I usually do and I believe HK people too. It’s safe and never go wrong. If anything happens, we’ll find an MTR station somewhere.

He moved to Hong Kong two months ago. But, he seemed to know HK better than I did. He already hiked many mountains, hills, and reached several peaks in HK.

We reached to a random place where the buildings are just exactly the same and crowded. He double-checked Google Maps. Then, swiftly, he walked right into the flowing group of people. I walked doubly fast than I normally do to catch up with him.

“I feel like I’m the tourist and you’re the guide,” I said, following him though I didn’t like walking this fast.

The back entrance of the building in the alley. I don’t think anyone will use this?

I don’t remember what he exactly said. I only remember one word: downtown. Then, I suddenly realise the beauty of it.

We can see everywhere is unorganised. On one side, that’s where the rich live. And, on the other side, that’s where the poor live. You may not have this question, but foreigners may: how can everyone live so close together?

Furthermore, HK is one of the wealthiest city in the world. Needless to say, we can all see some modern, state-of-the-art quality. But, you should as well expect to see the total opposite of it. What you see here are often contrasting: alleys and skyscrapers, scruffy people with a white vest and well-dressed people with ties and suit. That’s where the mystery comes from.

High-rise buildings and bad-looking buildings in Kung Tong.

🙂 Productiveness and Bustling streets

We kept walking really quickly until an HK couple blocked our way. They walked -casually, I would say – not fast but not too slowly either. But, the roads for pedestrian are so narrow that only fit two people. Therefore, we walked two steps and had to stop for a moment to let them move a little bit further. And then walked and stopped. Walked and stopped again. If those two didn’t give way or somehow walk a different path, we had to walk-stop-walk-stop.

So he got really impatient all of a sudden. He started to moan to me about that couple, saying it was annoying to wait for people to walk. Blew a loud whistle to indirectly express his anger, sending a signal that they should get out of the way. Yes, it successfully called their attention, but they just turned their head and back again, with not even a sign of puzzlement.

Yau Tong. Roads and cars are everywhere.

After having our dinner, we saw an obese, ball-like, middle-aged, foreign man which inexplicably agitated him. I asked him. He said, ‘It’s okay for people to be a bit lazy. Nevertheless, if a person has a normal brain and basic level of energy, at least they’ll be able to walk, naturally preventing them from being that ugly and fat.’

Another nice point about HK is we walk fast. Despite the slow-walking couple I mentioned, we are well-renowned for our speed. When walking, we cannot waste one minute or one second. People keep producing at work. We got impatient if the food is not on the table after perhaps 5 minutes. We demand speed and effectiveness. I wouldn’t say it’s 100% good but it certainly is something distinctive about HK people.

Marlboro Knitters Ltd in Kung Tong.

🙂 40% of Green Areas + Heritage

If truth to be told, there’re lots of historic and natural places in HK. As our city has modernised, apartments have been mostly built in the centre of the city. People are not aware of these valuable places. Even for me, I wouldn’t have gone to the undeveloped area if it wasn’t by chance.

Tin Hau Temple in Cha Kwo Ling, Kung Tong.
A house in Lei Yue Mum.
Lei Yue Mun (Sam Ka Tsuen Ferry)

HK people, including me, should pay attention to one thing, though.

“Too noisy,” my foreign friend said, while we were walking along the Tsim Sha Shui Habour.

I separated and categorised every sound I heard. Cars. Buses. Vans. And I said, “ah, I’ve never realised it’s that noisy before.”

At the end of my spontaneous walk to Lei Yue Mun today, I went to a peaceful place where I can clearly hear the sound of waves hitting rocks. It’s quite windy so I stand by the seashore while the breeze trying to bring me to another unknown place.

Lastly, I recorded the sound at the exact place where I took this picture.

Ma Pui Tsuen, Lei Yue Mum.



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