Just recalling back this trip... it has been quite an eye opener. Starting off, I would have preferred a more relaxed destination (eg a beach... Krabi, maybe - yes, some of you will know I love the place & country lots)...
But then, there is work to be done - and this is a part business come holiday... with my mission to visit as many Asian cities/ capitals first... and of course, HK just have to be in the list.
Coming into this bustling city has been an eye opener in many sorts. My first impression here - what an expensive city! Well, that is maybe because I come from Malaysia where the exchange rate is lower... but even Singapore's food is cheaper than HK's! In Singapore, the food courts I usually have a S$3 - $5 meal... and some kopitiams even have S$1.80 chicken rice! But HK - the average price is about HK25 onwards. Drinks at small shops - a minimum of HKD6, usually HKD8, or more (btw, I never tried the sugarcane here).
It took me a good 2 days or so to adjust to the HK food price (& hotel). And of course along the way, more eye-opening things to see - like the street life all over HK (and espcially so in Mongkok), or how there are flats that look so run down... and yet allow hostel/ budget hotels to operate within.
The other eye opener - witnessing the so many markets all over HK. What makes this more interesting is there's the real fresh market, right in the heart of the CBD area... and just a stone throw away from the city buildings! But then, this is HK - where old co-exist with new... a heritage by itself, that continues to live till today.
I also admire the way HK has become the movie hub of Asia - that despite the majority of Chinese speak Mandarin, or if even in their export market dialects - more Hokkien than anything else (think Taiwan, Singapore & even Malaysia). Yet, HK stars are celebrated both regionally and now even internationally. Of course, their movie industry has seen better days, but their stars are getting all limelight today (Jackie Chan, Chow Yuen Fatt, Stephen Chow, Tony Leung... and even our HK-LA based Michelle Yeoh, who is a much celebrated figure in HK).
Other eye opening things: avoid speaking Mandarin if possible - unless one has no other choice (this mainly apply if you look Chinese - be it if you are Japanese, Korean, China Chinese, Malaysian, Singaporean, Thai, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Taiwanese). Best is to speak proper Queen's English - for HK-ers still feels somewhat different from mainland Chinese - this from what I read and heard many times.... and it feels so true! (I switched from Mandarin to English, and what a different experience!).
Also, although this city prides itself as East meets West (think HK and one gets the big Chinese boat in front, with the city image at the back).... well, in a way yes, it is... but that's just like the picture - mainly the structures. Of course, there are splattering kwai los (caucassians) around, but which international Asia city doesn't? In any case to go by, it's more East as compared to say, Singapore... or even KL or Bangkok.
And after a good one week in this Cantonese city, I went over to Macau... only to witness more eye opening things in the other now-China city. But that is for another time :)
*I'll be following up on more things I see in HK & Macau in the next few posts, even after when back in sunny-land :)