23 Jul 2018
Hong Kong = A City of Contrasts
I am writing from my home of 16 years – Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a city of amazing contrasts. Perhaps nowhere is it better illustrated than the front cover of this month’s FIDI Focus. You’ll notice my new Volkswagen Beetle, state of the art in design and incorporating the latest in fabled German engineering. It has all the creature comforts anyone could ask for including air-conditioning, leather seats, power everything and a stereo system that can really rock.
If you look closely, just behind and to the left in that same picture, is one of Hong Kong’s famous double deck trams. Trams have been in continuous operation in Hong Kong for more than a century, slowly and steadily plying the same routes along Hong Kong Island’s waterfront. No climate control, no sound system but a ride from one end to the other, some 13 kilometers, will set you back a mere US $0.25! I don’t think I can even start-up my Beetle for that amount of money.
It is this kind of contrast that makes Hong Kong such a fascinating place. Take telecommunication: Hong Kong has more cell phones per capita than any other city on earth. All the latest technologies are here and fully six separate groups vied for the much-coveted 3G licenses that were recently awarded by the local government. At the same time, chunky, black, rotary dial phones can occasionally be found in older buildings in the Central business district. It gave me pause when my 13-year-old son asked me the other day: “Dad, what do they mean when they say ‘dial’ a telephone number?”
Hong Kong is a feast of visual delights. Steep, verdant green mountains rise up from Victoria Harbour and provide a stunning backdrop to some of the world’s most modern buildings. The work of famed architects I.M. Pei, Sir Norman Foster and Paul Rudolph stand alongside tenements that date back to pre-World War II days. Ultra modern, ultra posh hotels such as the Peninsula and the Mandarin provide a stark contrast to street vendors with push carts selling cigarettes, sodas and ice cream on the sidewalk just outside their cavernous marble lobbies.
The utter chaos of the open air, wet market in Wanchai, where recently cleaned fish, some still gasping for air (or trying to, anyway) clog streets that are full of Mercedes Benz sedans carrying bankers in three piece Armani suits to boardrooms of some of the world’s most sophisticated companies. It never ceases to amaze me and it probably never will.
In our industry, too, there are contrasts. Hong Kong can proudly boast having six FIDI member companies based in this former British colony, now a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. All these companies are FAIM accredited and employ the latest ideas in our industry. Compare that with just a few years back before FAIM became the respected measure that it is, and you can see just how far Hong Kong has come in such a short period of time.
Author: Rob Chipman @Asian Tigers Hong Kong