|Typical Hong Kong street|
It presents an interesting contrast to Singapore. Both places are city-states, made up of densely populated urban centers interspersed with a significant amount of parkland; both are new cities, founded in the 19th century by the British as a money-making enterprise; their populations, while primarily ethnically Chinese, are extremely diverse and cosmopolitan. British cultural influence remains strong in both--the legal system, the driving rules, the colonial outlook, the architecture, even some of the eating habits (morning coffee and toast, for example). A variety of religions is present in both, but their real religion is capitalism, in its purest form.
The funny thing is, even though they are mirror images of each other, the two places are completely different. Hong Kong is like New York: a cultural capital, famous for its style, its media (the movie industry, for instance), its thriving art scene. Basically, Hong Kong is cool. Singapore (despite the government's periodic efforts), is not at all cool. Think of Hong Kong as the intensely sophisticated wealthy businessman (who's made his fortune on acting as an intermediary between the West and China), who collects Ming pottery in his spare time. Singapore is more like the highly educated, intensely competitive, socially awkward quant geek, who's paid an immensely large salary to do complex math, all for the goal of making rich people more money.
|Downtown Hong Kong|
|Typical Singapore street|
My parents had never been to either place before their visit, so naturally I wanted to take them to both! We spent the last third of their trip there, which I will describe in some following posts.