Feels like: 11°F
Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013
Setting the ScenePosted Saturday, September 11, 2010, at 9:44 PM
I forget that I've been here a month now, and things that seem commonplace or -knowledge to me may yet be unfamiliar to people back home. So, I will try to paint the picture of Hong Kong as I've seen it thus far.
The city itself is quite big, and from the harbor, the abundant skyscrapers are framed nicely by wooded hills. Hong Kong is actually composed of the island, as well as some land on China's mainland. Although many parts of the city are easily accessible by bus or MTR (subway), it always takes longer than you think to get somewhere. Public transit is often crowded, but I have not yet experienced the sardine-like feeling I once had in a Beijing subway car. Sidewalks, too, are quite busy, so walking down the street requires some maneuvering, especially when it rains and everyone is using umbrellas.
Because of Hong Kong's close proximity to Shenzen and other factory towns in mainland China, the skies sometimes have a greyish, hazy look from air pollution. Every night on the news, they report the pollution numbers on a scale from mild to severe. On average, it seems to have been recorded as "high," but the air in general does not smell or feel dirty. There have been many days with blue skies, too, so I haven't particularly felt oppressed by the smog.
To continue speaking about the air, it does smell frequently in isolated areas. There are many little shops throughout the city that sell a mixture of dried foods (including fruit, beans and fish) to be eaten or possibly used as medicine. They quite reek of dead fish, and I sometimes try not to inhale as I walk past. There are also many open-air meat and fish vendors in the markets, who sell their wares from stalls along the street. The fish, often still alive, are kept in tubs of water and occasionally flop around. Tubs of trimmings and inedible parts are just set on the ground to be disposed of later.
On the plus side, there are also bakeries on practically every street, and they give off lovely fragrances. The products within are slightly different than at home, but still quite good. 7-11 convenient stores are another common sight, and most are open 24 hours. They are a one-stop shop for snacks, drinks, alcohol and cigarettes, as well as postage stamps and rechargeable phone credit. Apparently you can even pay utility bills there, too!
In sum, I would say that Hong Kong is similar to many other big cities in many ways -- public transportation, taxis, the general hustle and bustle. But, it has an interesting mix of East meets West about it, which makes the atmosphere seem not so foreign at all.
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Something about music. Something about small towns. Something about Hong Kong. Or maybe something else entirely.
Sydney is a former staff writer for the Democrat-News. She received degrees from University of Missouri in both music and magazine journalism. She played oboe with the Marshall Philharmonic Orchestra and the Marshall Municipal Band while she was in Marshall.