It has been nearly two months since I posted, which is far too long. I miss the active LJ days. And it's a bit sad that people seem to be mostly drifting away, but not to any kind of equivalent service. Facebook and Twitter fall far short as mediums for conversations, really being broadcasting mediums rather than discussion mediums, and individual blogs miss the community aspect that made LJ great. At least the English speaking side, Russian LJ seems to be be a still-hopping place.
In any event, now that I've been in Hong Kong a couple months I decided it was time to update on life here, and compare it to Singapore.food
I have written about food in Singapore multiple times. Singapore has the best food, by far, of any place I've ever lived or been to, and it's what I'm missing most in HK. I'm trying to accept HK food for what it is, instead of simply complaining about what it isn't. But it's been a harder adjustment than I expected.
If one is a fan of Cantonese-style Chinese food, then HK is the place to be. Of course Chinese cuisine overall is well-represented, as are Japanese and Korean. But, outside of Thai, Vietnamese, and, to a lesser extent, Philippines, Southeast Asian food is much less available. Either fewer and less varied restaurants (Malaysian and Indonesian) or a total lack of availability (Burmese and Peranakan). Which sucks because SE Asian cuisine is a favorite. I've been eating a lot of Vietnamese lately, I think just to be eating SEA, and Vietnamese doesn't even rank all that high for me among SEA.
Patricia is in Singapore for the next week and I'm jealous of what she'll be eating.
On the plus side, Philippine mangos are available here. I never could find them in Singapore. And unsweetened iced tea is much more widely available.language
HK is a much harder place to live for someone who speaks only English than Singapore. In Singapore the language of instruction in schools is English, outside of Mother Tongue language classes for Chinese, Indian, and Malay ethnicities, so pretty much everyone under 50 or so spoke decent English.
But Cantonese is very much HK's first language. Yes, if you stick to the expat lifestyle, going to expat bars and restaurants and super markets and hanging out with expats and immigrants and ABCs and BBCs, you can get along just fine with only English. But that lifestyle only scratches the surface of HK. And, frankly, the stereotypical expat is a bit annoying.
Local restaurants might have an English menu that is far shorter than the Cantonese menu, sometimes with Westernized dishes and occasionally higher prices than the Cantonese menu. Addresses are often only in Chinese, and sometimes streets will have very different English and Chinese names.
Trying to coordinate a mover to deliver a bed was a pretty frustrating experience, between the language barrier and feeling like I'm automatically given higher prices. Next items up to arrange for delivery are a sofa and then a washing machine, and I'm already stressing about those.
Patricia found our flat, and she got a relatively big place in a great location at a great price.
I realize all this makes me sound privileged. There are certainly no lack of advantages that come from being a white man born in America, which helps keep things in perspective. But it does make me want to learn the language, especially if we're here long term. And I love Chinese calligraphy tattoos. But I've always thought you shouldn't get tattoos like that unless you actually know what they say. So that could be the push I need.daily living
HK is about as expensive as Singapore (very!). Some things are cheaper (alcohol, taxis and public transport) and some things are more expensive (food, maybe rents). Overall, cost of living is probably a wash.
July and August were hotter than Singapore, but it does cool down in autumn and "winter", so I'm looking forward to that. There is more severe weather in HK, being exposed to the Pacific. About a month ago the strongest typhoon
in more than a decade came through, which was pretty scary with 140 mph (220 km/h) winds and crazy driving rain.
HK has maintained a lot of undeveloped space, so hiking and mountain biking are popular, especially in cooler seasons. There are a lot of islands connected by ferries, for places to explore. For the most part I stick to Hong Kong Island during the week, where we livek. But we'll do day trips to other parts of HK on the weekend.government
HK, despite now being under the control of PRC, has more political freedom than Singaporeans enjoyed. We've seen protests and public demonstrations that would never have been allowed in Singapore. The most recent has been student protests of National Education, decried as a Beijing attempt to brainwash HK children and whitewash less favorable parts of Chinese history (Tienanmen, Cultural Revolution, etc). As of now plans for National Education have been put on hold.
Hong Kongers seem to generally regard Beijing with suspicion. From what I gather one of the most distasteful aspects is the pushing of the idea that being Chinese means supporting one China with one national government and one national identity. I.e., the true Chinese would not believe in a Democratic and separate Taiwan.
There's also some resentment of mainlanders, that is Chinese from the PRC, in HK. Rich mainlanders buy property and supposedly drive up the price of housing, making it harder and harder for poor HKers to live, which exacerbates the already huge income inequality in HK. On the other hand, pregnant mainlanders come to HK to have children so that, under jus soli
, the children can be HK citizens. Which strains HK hospitals and social services.
In many ways, HK feels like a separate country. HK has its own government and laws, its own police, its own immigration policy, its own currency, telephone country code, internet TLD, and the internet is not censored as it is in mainland China. HK even fields its own Olympics team!
There is more to say but I'm done for tonight.