The girls of China Live China blog asked me to answer a few question about Hong Kong for one of their articles.
Following are their questions followed by my answers.
1. What are you doing in Hong-Kong and why did you choose this city?
I’m studying for a PhD at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) with the management department of the business school. Since my research interests are very much in the area of culture, cross-culture, human interactions and dynamics, I thought it would be best if I could do my PhD in an environment that would challenge my ideas about the world in a place with culture and people I’m less familiar with. As I have a certain passion for east Asia, Hong Kong has the best universities in Asia, and when it comes to management research HKUST is up there among the top. So, the main reason for choosing Hong Kong was for having the best higher-education in Asia.
2. What do you like most about it and why?
I love the extreme contrasts of Hong Kong. My university is located in Sai Kung, somewhere in the eastern part of the new territories of Hong Kong and the landscape here is absolutely spectacular. Beautiful natural scenery of sea and islands, gorgeous beaches, terrific hiking trails and excellent seafood. Central Hong Kong, about 45 minutes away, has the best of urban life, arts, culture, nightlife, shopping. This essentially allows me to enjoy both the quiet scenic part of Hong Kong and the hectic busy urban Hong Kong. Another point is about Hong Kong being considered very international and yet it is very much traditional Chinese, even more so than mainland. Most of the information is available in English, something not likely in other places I’ve stayed at in Asia, international conferences and events are abundant, and the city is geared towards the hordes of tourists that swamp it all year around, and yet the other side of Hong Kong consists of temples, Gods, folk religions, delicious Chinese street food, customs and rituals that are completely unique to Chinese Hong Kong.
3. What are your dislikes…if there are any…and why
The first times I came to Hong Kong as a tourist, I didn’t like it very much. Staying at busy Tsim Sha Tsui’s Nathan street – HK seemed polluted, dirty, full of immigrants, relatively expensive, and the cultural tourist attractions too commercialized.
Although I like Hong Kong much better now, and have a much better understanding of what Hong Kong is, some of those things still bother me. The pollution in Hong Kong, especially central areas (Central, Wan Chai, Tsim Sha Tsui, Mongkok), is unbearable. I still try and check the pollution levels in those places before I head over there…
4. What is the biggest difference between Hong-Kong and your home
There are very few things that are similar. My hometown is Jerusalem, with an older more traditional and religious style to it, where everything is a bit slower, with lots of history and meaning, and where religion and politics are sensitive with an overly direct and even confrontational culture. Hong Kong’s quite the opposite of that. With a history of less than 150 years and extremely urban modernity, Hong Kong’s a hectic financial center, very much money and work driven with a much more global orientation. Communications are less direct, taking “face” much more into consideration.
5. What is your favorite spot in the city and/or your favorite activity?
6. Give us one special recommendation to add to our "to-do-list" next time we visit Hong-Kong
Hiking the natural scenery of Hong Kong. Tai Long Wan beach on the MacLehose Trail, is my recommended spot. You can hike there from Sai Kung National Park, which would take about 2-3 hours, or you can take a boat for about 50-100HK$ from Sai Kung Town.
7. What do you think about the local people?
They keep a much bigger distance than other places, they’re generally very dedicated to work and family life, both traditional and modern (but not Western) at the same time. I wish I would have known them better, but till now I can’t say that I have.
8.For your opinion – if you visited china of course – what is the main difference between HK and mainland china?
I still haven’t seen much of mainland, atleast not as much as I would have like to. I would generally say that the Hong Kong people are more intellectually open and modern than the mainlanders, and much more traditional and religious. HK seems to be able to mix Chinese culture with modernity, capitalism and values, in a way China is still struggling to find. To balance that, the Chinese have a much stronger sense of identity, with a much stronger emphasis on self and financial success. Personality wise, the urban mainlanders seem louder and more direct in their attitudes. Obviously, there are some noticeable social gaps, whereas the average HK person is much wealthier, more service-quality-fashion oriented, than the average mainland Chinese, but that’s changing very fast.
Any other questions? ^_^
Would love to hear your thoughts about those same questions.