Did you know it was possible to fall in love with a place, rather than a person? Neither did I! As most of you know, I spent two weeks in China during the Summer of 2010 on an international business seminar. I got just a tiny glimpse into the craziness and diversity of China; visiting Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou. As part of our trip, we were able to go to Hong Kong for an add-on of three days. I decided to go, and was in awe of Hong Kong.
The summer after, I had the opportunity to take two summer classes at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, and I fell in love. Even five and a half years later, it’s hard to put into words the depths of my feelings for Hong Kong. This post definitely won’t do it justice, but rather an overview of Hong Kong and the diversity and vastness the city has to offer.
Hong Kong’s history is diverse and interesting. Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions (SARs) of China, the other being Macau. Hong Kong was run by the Qing dynasty until 1841 when it was taken by the British. There was more conflict between the Chinese government and the British, and during that time many Mainland Chinese fled and emigrated to Hong Kong. In 1898, the British secured a 99 (who comes up with that number anyways!?) lease to rule Hong Kong.
During the British reign of Hong Kong, a free port was established, the University of Hong Kong was founded in 1911, and the economy and growth of Hong Kong skyrocketed. Unfortunately, during the time of the British rule, many of the native Chinese people were left without a voice in their government and every day living. Hong Kong became a center of trade, finance and dominance in East Asia. The British eventually gave up their control of Hong Kong to the Chinese government on July 1st, 1997. Since Hong Kong was governed by the British until 1997, it has a large British influence. Not to mention the fact that cars drive on the opposite side of the road (lesson learned the hard way by not looking in the right direction before crossing the street!).
While I was at Lingnan University, I decided to keep a journal of what I did. Of course, I was probably more focused on going to all the bars and clubs since I was legal in Hong Kong and not yet legal in the States, so my journal isn’t all that inclusive and memorable. I left a lot out – what sites, temples and museums I visited, the randomness of meeting people from all over the country, and most importantly the feelings I developed for Hong Kong.
One thing I did write in my journal, which I feel is the epitome of why Hong Kong is so special and so unique, is this:
The landscape is so diverse, as diverse as the people who live here.
And that could not be more true. Hong Kong as a landscape is beautiful. Hong Kong, in Cantonese, means “fragrant harbor” and consists of more than 260 islands. Surprisingly, only a quarter of Hong Kong’s land is inhabited. Yet at the center of the city is one of the most crowded, loud and expensive housing markets in the world. This area consists of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon Territories.
One of the things I loved most about Hong Kong was the diversity of the people living there. You have the natives who lived in Hong Kong all their lives; you have the Mainland Chinese who immigrated to Hong Kong from Mainland China; you have the British, the Australians, and the European expats in business suits; and you have the Filipinos, the Southeast Asians, the Indians and South Africans and Americans. You could probably do a census on the number of people living in Hong Kong and come up with at least fifty different nationalities.
Even though Hong Kong’s landscape is not large, the density and amount of educational opportunities are immense. You can learn so many things just by being surrounded by so many different types of people and nationalities. Not to mention all of the delicious and diverse foods being offered and available to taste (Nepalese and Dim Sum are two of my favorites). Hong Kong is the epitome of East meets West, and is forever changing and growing, yet also stays the same and holds onto it’s roots and history.
This post hasn’t done nowhere near the justice that Hong Kong deserves, but at least it provides a glimpse into the unique history and interesting future of Hong Kong. I’ll definitely be writing more about all the adventures and memories from Hong Kong, and about my upcoming trip back to Hong Kong after being away for 5 1/2 years!