24 Jul Asking myself to share my impressions about Hong Kong is tricky
Asking myself to share my impressions about Hong Kong is tricky. Hong Kong is a major first world city, and there’s very little I could tell you about here that wouldn’t be applicable to London, New York, Tokyo or any number of such places. That being said, I’ve reached the final stages of my internship here, so I’m starting to get used to the eccentricities of this east-meets-west Mecca, and I’ll try and share one or two of these insights for you now.
So it’s crowded. That in itself is not my most insightful revelation to date but it’s worth stressing. Everything and everyone in Hong Kong appears to be fighting for space and attention. It’s on every level. Underground, a person can fight their way through the MTR stations to find themselves well and truly immersed in a sea of commuters. On the streets your attention is constantly lurching from shop to shop, dodging people and public transport with alarming frequency. Should you find yourself a view of the Hong Kong skyline not eclipsed by a few hundred other tourists posing for photographs, you might catch a glimpse of the city skyline from above, and there you would quickly realize not an inch of space is being wasted.
To anyone who’s familiar with the uncanny valley, that might apply here. Hong Kong is very westernized, everything you would expect from any city in the world is here, at the right price, but the Chinese do tend to put their spin on most of it. It’s definitely strange the first time I had a Pizza Hut, Cantonese style – it looked somewhat akin to plutonium. You get used to ever-so-slightly bizarre things happening on a daily basis, like getting stared at by every Asian baby, or by people spitting on the streets by your feet. It’s certainly interesting, although I’m as yet undecided as to whether I could live here.
Writing this, I am entering into the final stretch of the internship here at a Swedish Multinational Company. In stark contrast to the majority of work I struggle through at university, both projects are either on or ahead of schedule. It’s a nice feeling, and it’s definitely teaching me the value of organization.
Some of the highlights over the last week have included an all you can eat Japanese gourmet buffet (octopus meatballs are definitely a thing.) We ventured out with one of other non-Absolute interns at our firm, a young guy named Johnny who reminds me more than a little bit of Eeyore from Winnie the Poo. Perhaps the best quote of the night (and a brilliant illustration of the cultural divide) was when we enquired as to Johnny’s weirdest meal. Expecting an answer along the lines of ‘grilled goat’s penis,’ you can imagine our shock when he replied: “Lasagne, it’s a noodle, but it’s a cake?”
Weekend activities definitely fell into the realm of ‘I need to recover.’ A group went to Disneyland, but as I’m not 11 years old I decided sleeping in was a far superior alternative. Unsurprisingly, there was a sizeable group of like-minded individuals and we opted for a Michelin star lunch as a day plan. Sunday was equally chilled, consisting mainly of leisurely strolls through Hong Kong’s temples. Honestly, they feel a bit false, but the relative tranquility is a welcome break from the relentlessness of the city proper. I finished my day with a browse through the pet shop district, seeing some rather distressed looking birds and some fish crammed into too tight a space to be healthy. Despite this I feel relaxed and ready for the final stretch. My next blog post will probably not be from Hong Kong, but by then hopefully there will be a bit more to say than this week.