first thing that strikes most visitors to Hong Kong are the very
different cultures and societies at work here.
It would be easy to dismiss Hong Kong
simply as a fascinating combination of East and West but it is much,
much more than this with a unique and distinctive culture of its own.
Over the years, Hong Kong has maintained
and established a fascinating and intriguing Chinese culture.
Traditional food, clothing, ceremonies and values existing here are an
almost idealized version of Chinese culture as it is seen in the west.
From the active little Temples such as the Man
Mo on Hong Kong's winding streets, to the bustling alleys in Mongkok,
the existence of a very genuine and real Chinese way of life is
Sitting side by side with this
traditional culture, is a vibrant, efficient and modern side to the
city. Hong Kong is incredibly productive and advanced. The economy
here, (while no longer booming as it was in the 1980s) is still
remarkably buoyant despite the threat from Shanghai on the mainland.
The Hong Kong Stock Exchange is the center of financial power in East
Asia and the thousands of well dressed workers who pour in and out of Central's
office buildings and banks every day are a living symbol of the wealth
at work in the city.
In terms of commerce, the selection of shops and
the range of goods and clothing available here is among the best in
the world. The subway, trams, train system and business centers are
remarkably efficient and among the best in the world. Hong Kong's new
architecture too is a fabulous example of the fashionable and
contemporary importance of this territory. The Bank of China and the
Hong Kong Shanghai Bank are design masterpieces recognized throughout
the world. The people living this modern way of life are a unique
yet there is still room for another unique side to Hong Kong. Local
Hong Kong people are wrongly perceived as unfriendly and lacking in
culture and identity. In fact, the Hong Kongers have established a
very individual culture of their own which contributes to the wealth
of arts, food, fashion and sophistication already existing here.
Hong Kong is most famous for its film.
There is also some great film and art here and the Hong
Kong Cultural Center and Art Museum is a great place to experience
some of this wealth.
The hand-over in 1997 brought about some
changes in Hong Kong. The colonial influence is still obvious in the
architecture and the investment in the city, but the emphasis is
gradually being changed. Cantonese is the official language of Hong
Kong although many people also speak English. Mandarin is now being
encouraged by the Chinese government and Hong Kong has been renamed as
a "Special Administrative Region" run under Deng Xiaoping's
"One country, two systems" policy. For the time being
however, Beijing seems to realize the economic might and the
international pull that this tiny area exerts and is prepared to leave
most aspects of society relatively unchanged.