Fùnyìhng from Hong Kong!
Our first day here took us to the central part of the city, which exuded an energetic buzz from the locals and is a popular location among tourists. Here, we had the opportunity to experience the people and the culture of this wonderful city. Hong Kong is a collection of islands among which the main ones are Hong Kong Island, Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories, with Cantonese being a regional language spoken by the Chinese population in the city. Originally a sparsely populated city of farming and fishing villages, Hong Kong has transformed into one of the world’s biggest financial centers and commercial ports. The latter was evident on our way to the hotel in Kowloon district from the airport, where we saw an overwhelming volume of shipping containers (thousands of such containers stacked on top of each other). Hong Kong also has a booming stock exchange and is home to many of the world’s important banks.
Some interesting facts that I learned about the city are,
- Hong Kong has the largest number of skyscrapers in the world, and this is easily noticeable. From the International Commerce and Finance Center buildings to the Bank of China tower, the city has a breathtaking skyline across both sides of Victoria Harbor.
- The real estate prices in Hong Kong are among the highest in the world, leading to many families living in small apartments. On average, 4-6 members of a family stay in 500 square feet apartments. You can observe this when you see the tall residential towers that seem to be densely packed with small apartments.
- Hong Kong has the longest outdoor escalator in the world, named the Central and Mid-Levels escalator, that we experienced first-hand. This near 800-meter escalator, lined with restaurants, bars and shops, helps make commuting across different parts of Hong Kong Island convenient.
Hong Kong, being an open market, is different from mainland China in a few ways, especially the diversity of the people here. The number of immigrants – Europeans, Indians, North Americans, etc. – among the near 7 million population are aplenty. The western influence is clear in many parts of the city, with most major brands from the fashion to the food industry making their way here, especially in Tsim Sha Tsui, an area with many luxurious shopping malls. We also got to see the oldest Buddhist temple in the city, which is the predominant religion here, with its beautiful gold plated and intricately designed entrance to its collection of Buddhist deities. Hong Kong has a unique topography, with plenty of peaks and crests, and with most parts of the city being surrounded by bodies of water. We ended the evening with a dinner at a local restaurant on the harbor, overlooking the gorgeous night skyline. This was an excellent first day for us students from the Center for Brand and Product Management and the A.C. Nielsen Center for Marketing Research. We were all excited about exploring all the other unique aspects of the city over the next few days.