Hong Kong: A Lot of Walking goes a Long Way

I’m sitting against the window in my room with my big headphones on listening to Ambulance LTD. I feel sort of like Charlotte in Lost in Translation. Maybe thats a stretch – but whatever. I haven’t blogged yet because I really haven’t had a second to breathe. Hong Kong is amazing. And I’m going to take some time now to go through the highlights of the first two days. I would love to write about everything- but I’ve just done too much.

The first thing you notice about Hong Kong is the signs. They’re everywhere and they hang down from the buildings like tree trunks. In the neighborhood we’re staying in, Sham Shui Po, they’re almost all in only chinese. When you get further into the city you see more english (and engrish). I could take a million pictures of all the signs and the awesome neon – but it wouldn’t do the density justice.
Thats what really stands out about every aspect of Hong Kong – density. The amounts of people; The narrowness of the buildings; the general layout. Dense.

The second thing I noticed was the scaffolding. What’s the big deal about scaffolding?, you ask. Easy – Its all bamboo. Even for this large inner city building, not a steal bar or PVC pipe in sight. All bamboo. And not only that but its everywhere. Hanging out over buildings, supporting heavy loads, incredible.

The next was the sheer verticality of the city. My brother described it really well. Imagine taking the island of Manhattan in between your hands and pushing towards the center. The buildings get taller and closer together. Central Park becomes a large mountain. And everything become tightly packed. That’s what Hong Kong Island is like. Everything is up.

You notice this especially when going from Central to the mid-levels. Though you can do this by bus – the easiest way is The Escalator. There is a series of many escalators going up one level at a time up the gradient of the hill that stands behind central Hong Kong. It’s quite surreal to think that for a large number of people a commute is the ride up and down a series of escalators. They run down for four hours in the morning (rush hour), and back up the rest of the day.

This all leads back to the fact that HK is a new city. Unlike NYC or Paris which have been big cities for a long time, Hong Kong became a metropolis much later. This allowed them to incorporate all these modern and really efficient municipal services, like the escalators and the very very modern and well designed subway (The MTR).

In this way HK is a paradox, though. It at once super modern and traditional. Its a constant clash between these two that make it so interesting.

I have much more to write – but I’m just still recovering from all the walking. I’ll keep posting pictures though. And I’ll write more very soon. I promise.

One Response to “Hong Kong: A Lot of Walking goes a Long Way”

Eric Smith Says: #


Very interesting comments about the city of Hong Kong. I’d surely like to visit– The escalator ride seems very appealing. Do people slide down the railings like in Stuy? I’d sure like to slide down the railings in Hong Kong one day.

But really, I think you’re doing a great thing with this blog. I know that there are subtle professional undertones going on here (perhaps so subtle that you’d want to erase this comment– go ahead by all means), but the fact that you’re writing without typos and perhaps for a possible employer really just enhances its readability. You know I have always thought that your writing could and should match the beauty of your layouts– with Quirkey you’ve finally done it. (I’m sure you’re doing it with your other new projects, but this is the one I’m looking at).

Anyway, hit me back when you get back to New York. Eric


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