A city between autonomy and hegemony from another side with roots of colonial times has to be a special place to be. As you could read in the news during recent months there was a lot going on: Demonstration for political independence. As you might know Hongkong was a colonie of Great Britain until 1949. Since then it is a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China – saying it basically belongs to China.
But it is not that easy. For example the political and judicial system of Hongkong is theoretically independent of Mainland China. Official language is not only Chinese. Also English and Cantonese are officially recognized parts of Hongkongs character. Lately I was in Hongkong, mainly in HK Island and Kowloon, to see how such a clash of culture might feel like in reality. Cities with colonial history exist in tons, but one that is semi-autonomous is rare. For Western people HK has a big advantage, which is that you can easily communicate in English. Maybe it gets more complicated the more you get towards Mainland China, but it is still handy compared to other places in Asia. 95% of the 7 Million inhabitants have Chinese origins, but you can still see a lot of Western people. Especially HK Island feels very westernized and you hear a lot of British accent.
As Victoria harbor divides the city geographically into two areas – HK Island and Kowloon, it also seems to show the both cultures influencing Hongkong. Kowloon, which is on the opposite side of the famous skyline of HK Island, is basically the Chinese part of the city. For me it also felt like deeply Asian. People behave different, less Western people, communication in English was more complicated and buildings did not look so modernized anymore. Suddenly these shiny, colorful signs appeared again everywhere. In HK Island you can more find the busy business districts or a great shopping experience, but also little streets and alternative stores. However in my opinion you can really experience the colonial background together with the semi-autonomous status in Hongkong mainly geographically.
I also heard that Hongkong-Chinese people do not really adore Mainland Chinese. “No spitting” signs are all over the city as well as a HK person might tell a Chinese to behave properly. To me it seemed there is a huge tension between the cultures, which also makes the city’s atmosphere that exciting. After my stay in Hongkong I am pretty overwhelmed by the place and I am sure to come back.
It is a sparkling place to be!