Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hong Kong and Macau

Hong Kong is a rad city. There is no other way to describe it.

It is big, fast, noisy, crowded, exciting, polluted, vibrant, pungent and pulsing with life. It is everything that Kyoto is not. Being in Hong Kong made me feel like I've spent the past six months with the mute button on.

I think I had become so acclimatized to the calm, quiet, hyper-politeness of Japan that the streets of Hong Kong were an assault on my dormant senses. Bus engines roaring, jackhammers pounding, people yelling, neon blazing, incense burning, buildings towering, fish rotting, garlic frying. The city felt alive. I felt alive.

China is a country on the rise. Japan is a country in decline. You can feel it: it's palpable.

I'm not saying one is better than the other. They're radically different countries. There's no point comparing them. But it was interesting to go to a place like Hong Kong after living in a place like Kyoto. It was like I was seeing the city through Japanese eyes ("Why is everyone talking so loudly?" "Why is everyone cutting in line?" "Why aren't the sick people on the bus wearing surgical masks?").

Hong Kong is my kind of city.

I like cities with grit, grime and decrepit buildings. I like cities where it's okay to hang your laundry outside to dry. (What do Canadian cities have against clotheslines anyway?)

I like cities lit up at night with rainbow-coloured neon signs. Sunlight is nice but neon light is the most beautiful light of all.

I like cities with skyscrapers so high you have to crane your neck as far back as it can go to see the entire building.

I like cities surrounded by nature. Hong Kong is similar to Vancouver in that way. Both cities are geographically constrained by mountains and water so it's easy to get out of the city and into the hills.

I like cities that are close to other interesting places, like Macau. Macau is like Las Vegas, Portugal and Asia all rolled into one. I blew five dollars on the slots at the Casino Lisboa before cutting my losses and walking away. I'm not much of a gambler.

I like cities that are cosmopolitan, vibrant and multicultural. Apparently, there is a White Spot in Hong Kong. I didn't find the White Spot, but I did find the Keg. And a Russian ice bar.

Hong Kong is a rad city. You can find the rest of my photos here.

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