Saturday, October 21, 2006

I (heart) Hong Kong

I (heart) Hong Kong. I want to marry Hong Kong. If I were a woman, I'd want to have Hong Kong's children. If the year were 1964 and Hong Kong were appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show, I'd be one of the screaming fans in Hong Kong-mania. Well, I think you get my point.

I had to go to Hong Kong on Thursday to get my Z-visa finally taken care of. I need my Z-visa to apply for a residence permit in Yantai... something I had tried to do in London, but was unable due to lack of funds. Anyway, I took a two hour train ride from Guangzhou and...

... magically found myself in London. Not Fleet Street London, or Covent Garden London, but the are between Shaftesbury and Leicester Square; London's Chinatown. They even drive on the "wrong" side of the road (well, its not the right (hand) side, is it?)

I have been to Hong Kong once before, but this time it struck me how different Hong Kong is to the mainland. Don't get me wrong, I love living the the PRC, but it was very refreshing being in HK. It is all of the small little things, which together add up. Listed below are all of the reasons I (heart) Hong Kong:

1) It is clean. There is a distince lack of garbage and litter everywhere. At first I couldn't quite figure it out, but when I stepped into an elevator and read "This elevator's buttons are disinfected once each hour", I realized that Hong Kong keeps itself remarkably sanitary.

2) Almost everyone speaks English. And well. And with an English accent. Proper queen's English and all. Bloody fantastic!

3) The taxi drivers actually insist that you wear a seatbelt AND they don't drive like suicidal maniacs! They keep their own appearence neat and clean, and their cabs even moreso. They actually polish each taxi at the end of each shift!

4) You can go into any supermarket in Hong Kong and buy Heinz Salad Cream. And pickled onions. It is enough to make a grown man cry.

5) When I'm there I can pretend I'm Nathan Muir. All hail Spy Game.

6) To a degree, people actually have some freedom of speech. I saw people demonstrating with anti-PRC government posters AND THEY WEREN'T BEING VANISHED BY MEN IN BLACK VANS!

7) The amount of respect they give the British is great. At the visa office I asked them how long it would take to process a Z-visa on my US passport. My question was met with a nasty, snippy response from the visa officer of, "It will be ready end of tomorrow. You come back then, no earlier!" When I presented my UK passport for the application, her tone totally changed and I got a nice, "Oh, yes sir. Please come back in 1.5 hours to pick up your passport."

8) Did I mention they have pickled onions?