Apart from oddly-named businesses like Wrong Design for a graphics company, Wanka for a women’s clothing store or Homeless for a homewares outlet, the first thing we notice about Hong Kong is the distinct lack of bicycles and scooters.
Instead, the streets are bursting with red taxis and double-decker buses. We’re told by a couple of expats that HK$20 (around AU$2.50) should get you just about anywhere in the city – and that taxi drivers are touching you up if they charge you HK$100 (unless they’re taking you to mainland China).
We prefer to walk and, apart from the occasional tailor determined to craft an amazing suit for you, it’s a relaxing place to hang out. The locals have a wonderful talent for being polite and helpful, yet absolutely indifferent to your existence.
Strolling through the city and down along the waterfront is also a surprise. Not only are the streets completely litter-free, but the harbour itself is pristine and there’s not a stroke of graffiti to be seen.
And then there are the luxury cars – Rolls Royces, Porches, BMWs, Mercedes, and more. And I mean ‘more’. Not just a couple, but rows of them parked along the streets.
There is serious money here, but the flipside is obvious. One local snorted when we asked her if Hong Kong was a nice place to live.
“Too expensive,” she said. “Too hard to live. Good for people with good wage, but for us, not so good.”
It’s an in-your-face reality here – one that most appear to accept with equanimity. And in a city like Hong Kong, it’s easy to see why the locals go with the flow.