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So far from a similar culture. Your travel experiences are thought provoking. The man in his coffin home is sobering. I'm fascinated and once again enjoy your writing and having a short "visit" in a foreign culture and city. Thanks again for sharing these stories.
 

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I appreciate your travelogues as I never will see such places in person.
 

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Really great writeup. Even growing up there, I hadn't seen some of the things you've seen in your travels (astonishing and sobering at the same time)
 

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Thanks so much for this. Both enlightening and engaging.

Cheers
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
Great writing, as always, I&P.

It’s hard not to feel a little incensed at the photos of the “coffin homes”, particularly coming from a place so bloated on the insane excesses of the financial sector. It all feels more than just a little bit sordid. It certainly hit me with a sharp pang, reminding me that my life, even with all its attendant challenges, is pretty good on lots of fronts. A useful corrective.

We live in such a weird world..... Lots to love about it, but there is equally an awful lot to loathe about it too.
Thanks @Munkie Magik - It has the same impact of me. I'm careful not to frame these stories as some kind of guilt trip for enjoying watches. Lots of watch writing rightly focuses on the aspirations attached to watch owning. I find that there's gritty stuff going on all around and that contrast makes watch wearing and usage interesting because of the backdrop. It's fair to say that some of this is a bit jarring but it's not aimed to deliver a downer - just a different take.
 

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I have a flat in HK on Victory Lane kowloon right above the starbucks. Haven’t been able to go back for over a year and it pains me to not be able to browse the streets of Mongkok or TST. It’s my getaway from the cold winter of NYC.
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
I have a flat in HK on Victory Lane kowloon right above the starbucks. Haven’t been able to go back for over a year and it pains me to not be able to browse the streets of Mongkok or TST. It’s my getaway from the cold winter of NYC.
Poor old Kowloon has had layers of difficulties dropped on it. The protests, changes in government, Covid. On one of my last trips, this was taken looking down Mody Road at 2pm on a Saturday. twenty feet from Nathan Road.

16007427
 
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Thank you for another amazing post; thought provoking as well. Hong Kong is definitely on the Bucket list of places to visit someday. Quite often we forget or don't even know what the realities of life are like for the people who live in these places. Or how fortunate we are. Once again thank you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
Thank you for another amazing post; thought provoking as well. Hong Kong is definitely on the Bucket list of places to visit someday. Quite often we forget or don't even know what the realities of life are like for the people who live in these places. Or how fortunate we are. Once again thank you.
Thank you. Despite all the crazy money floating around, Hong Kongers will always benefit from your tourism. It's especially important for those not insulated by wealth as they tend to work in hospitality, retail, hotel cleaning and all that is flat-lined at the moment. A tourism lead recovery is needed.

When I was up there when Covid was first emerging, a hotel staff member pointed out five blacked-out buildings in total darkness. These were five Chinese mainland owned Hotels that served the inbound market. They had been shuttered for at least 12 months and that seems way back now. Mainlanders come in on packages and stay in mainland owned hotels, eat in mainland owned restaurants and buy from mainland owned retail stores. But the people delivering the services are locals who need dollars coming in.

You'll see no people on the streets in this photo even thought it's peak hour in Central

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Thanks @Munkie Magik - It has the same impact of me. I'm careful not to frame these stories as some kind of guilt trip for enjoying watches. Lots of watch writing rightly focuses on the aspirations attached to watch owning. I find that there's gritty stuff going on all around and that contrast makes watch wearing and usage interesting because of the backdrop. It's fair to say that some of this is a bit jarring but it's not aimed to deliver a downer - just a different take.
And you achieve that balance nicely, @InitialAndPitch, putting some of the reality in there to give background colour and context to the place, without bludgeoning the reader either or losing focus on the thrust of the writing.

It wasn’t a downer - it was a good read as always. I realise that my post was maybe a bit one dimensional, and didn’t mean to gloss over all the other interesting content. Was just very struck by the affinity between the pup and the old man, both caged up (and to some extent commoditised) by a society that has no shortage of wealth swelling it.

And I don’t think there is any harm of being reminded of these things once in a while anyway. It’s good not to ignore the more confronting things in life, so kudos to you for venturing to look where most of us would rather ignore.

Many of us, even with the headwinds we sometimes face, lead relatively privileged lives and it’s no harm being reminded of that once in a while!
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
And you achieve that balance nicely, @InitialAndPitch, putting some of the reality in there to give background colour and context to the place, without bludgeoning the reader either or losing focus on the thrust of the writing.

It wasn’t a downer - it was a good read as always. I realise that my post was maybe a bit one dimensional, and didn’t mean to gloss over all the other interesting content. Was just very struck by the affinity between the pup and the old man, both caged up (and to some extent commoditised) by a society that has no shortage of wealth swelling it.

And I don’t think there is any harm of being reminded of these things once in a while anyway. It’s good not to ignore the more confronting things in life, so kudos to you for venturing to look where most of us would rather ignore.

Many of us, even with the headwinds we sometimes face, lead relatively privileged lives and it’s no harm being reminded of that once in a while!
It's an interesting observation about the Pup and the old man. I can't claim any Hemingway expertise in linking those together but it's a very interesting pick up. I think that the Chinese make pragmatic decisions about solving problems - stay clear of the pandemic by ordering live food in the box guaranteeing freshness. Their work ethic is phenomenal, many live pretty hard lives in an opaque system.

While this might seem a silly story, I was in Shenzhen and tore a fingernail and needed to find nail clippers. I wandered into a mall and found a pharmacy and took the clippers to the cash register. They would only accept China Pay - no MasterCard etc and I didn't have cash. An older Chinese woman came up the register and paid for them for me, smiled and left. Never had that happen anywhere else. Those are the sorts of interactions you don't tend to get on the well beaten travel path.
 
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It's an interesting observation about the Pup and the old man. I can't claim any Hemingway expertise in linking those together but it's a very interesting pick up. I think that the Chinese make pragmatic decisions about solving problems - stay clear of the pandemic by ordering live food in the box guaranteeing freshness. Their work ethic is phenomenal, many live pretty hard lives in an opaque system.

While this might seem a silly story, I was in Shenzhen and tore a fingernail and needed to find nail clippers. I wandered into a mall and found a pharmacy and took the clippers to the cash register. They would only accept China Pay - no MasterCard etc and I didn't have cash. An older Chinese woman came up the register and paid for them for me, smiled and left. Never had that happen anywhere else. Those are the sorts of interactions you don't tend to get on the well beaten travel path.
Our inner genius is often working away subconsciously :)

The Chinese are very hard working from all I have heard and seen - a few buddies and rellies lived/worked in China for years and said as much. It's a tough, byzantine and capricious system they live in - I've done bits of business with Chinese companies and government agencies on and off over the past decade and it's anything but straight forward at times. A few Chinese colleagues I've had over the years have said as much too.

That's a nice story about the older woman paying for the nail clippers - not something that would happen in a great many places.
 

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Unfortunately travel writing doesn’t quite fund the watch thing. Hong Kong is a great city to live in full time. One of the most welcoming places.

I’ve done the wet markets in Chinatown in Saigon. Snakes in buckets hissing away. Saigon a brilliant city too especially if you like motorbikes
As a local, I disagree.

Hong Kong is a great city to live in full time if you fit one of the following :
1) you are a top professional, or at least management in a decently sized company
2) you are an expat with full coverage of rent and some compensation on expenses

I mean, you already know how bad it is to rent a place, why would you think it's a great place to live if you aren't earning 10K USD or above, right? In eyes of a tourist it might seem glamorous and vibrant, but once you start looking for a job and earning that local paycheck, the fun dissipates fairly quickly.

(but I somewhat doubt the rent number your friend provided for the cage home. Either your friend lied, or her father was too old and never bothered to look elsewhere. As expensive as this city might be, there should be better places for $1200 out there, definitely enough for a standalone room somewhere)

PS : I'm not sure if you were supposed to trust the grey market deals at the locations you went to. Chungking Mansion is a phishy place in itself and that street at MongKok... I've heard stories about much cheaper watches.... Daytona? I'll pass....
 

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As a local, I disagree.

Hong Kong is a great city to live in full time if you fit one of the following :
1) you are a top professional, or at least management in a decently sized company
2) you are an expat with full coverage of rent and some compensation on expenses

I mean, you already know how bad it is to rent a place, why would you think it's a great place to live if you aren't earning 10K USD or above, right? In eyes of a tourist it might seem glamorous and vibrant, but once you start looking for a job and earning that local paycheck, the fun dissipates fairly quickly.

(but I somewhat doubt the rent number your friend provided for the cage home. Either your friend lied, or her father was too old and never bothered to look elsewhere. As expensive as this city might be, there should be better places for $1200 out there, definitely enough for a standalone room somewhere)

PS : I'm not sure if you were supposed to trust the grey market deals at the locations you went to. Chungking Mansion is a phishy place in itself and that street at MongKok... I've heard stories about much cheaper watches.... Daytona? I'll pass....
Look at it this way Harris, it's a slump everywhere you go if you don't have the money.
 

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Look at it this way Harris, it's a slump everywhere you go if you don't have the money.
That said, you're correct in that the rent for "cage housing" quoted isn't correct. They should be in the neighborhood of HK$2,000, or approx US$300 a month.
 

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The Chinese have this strange effect of driving real estate prices up wherever they go.

My street was all Italian and now it is almost all Chinese.

The Chinese foreign buyers from HK started buying in the 80s and 90s.

The mainland Chinese are the latest buyers.

They pay way over asking. And then drive over to the Merc or Bimmer dealership to secure a ride.
 

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The Chinese have this strange effect of driving real estate prices up wherever they go.

My street was all Italian and now it is almost all Chinese.

The Chinese foreign buyers from HK started buying in the 80s and 90s.

The mainland Chinese are the latest buyers.

They pay way over asking. And then drive over to the Merc or Bimmer dealership to secure a ride.

I guess with over 2 billion Indian and Chinese people it is inevitable they start spilling over everywhere.
Interesting comment.

So you think Chinese are stupid, and would offer to buy a property "for way over the asking price" simply because they can? 😏

Have you thought for one second, it's the sellers who got greedy and are taking advantage of the increased demand and raising the asking prices instead?

About Chinese buying Mercedes and BMWs, perhaps you're not aware - in Hong Kong a brand-new E200 costs about US$78,700 due to the high registration tax. In the US, the E-Class starts with the E350 at ~ $54,000.

So for us, the cost of buying an E350 in the States is about what we pay here for a Honda Odyssey. Can you blame us for going for a Merc instead?
 

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Interesting comment.

So you think Chinese are stupid, and would offer to buy a property "for way over the asking price" simply because they can? 😏

Have you thought for one second, it's the sellers who got greedy and are taking advantage of the increased demand and raising the asking prices instead?

About Chinese buying Mercedes and BMWs, perhaps you're not aware - in Hong Kong a brand-new E200 costs about US$78,700 due to the high registration tax. In the US, the E-Class starts with the E350 at ~ $54,000.

So for us, the cost of buying an E350 in the States is about what we pay here for a Honda Odyssey. Can you blame us for going for a Merc instead?
Not at all. The Chinese foreign buyers have Cash and this sparks a bidding war. And the Chinese can afford to end the bidding war.

I am just writing what my mainland Chinese neighbour told me. He just bought the house next door to me all cash no mortgage. Got his BMW X5 the following week. He said this is the way we operate.

My parents next door neighbour is Hong Kong Chinese. He owns factories in Bangladesh that make clothes that are sold in Wal Mart. The builder of his home went to HK specifically to search out buyers when HK was going back to China. He told me that Wal Mart is super crazy to do business with their QC is super high.

Chill brother this is what is happening around me.
 

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Not at all. The Chinese foreign buyers have Cash and this sparks a bidding war. And the Chinese can afford to end the bidding war.

I am just writing what my mainland Chinese neighbour told me. He just bought the house next door to me all cash no mortgage. Got his BMW X5 the following week. He said this is the way we operate.

My parents next door neighbour is Hong Kong Chinese. He owns factories in Bangladesh that make clothes that are sold in Wal Mart. The builder of his home went to HK specifically to search out buyers when HK was going back to China. He told me that Wal Mart is super crazy to do business with their QC is super high.

Chill brother this is what is happening around me.
Yeah when my family immigrated to Canada I had to pay for the Honda Accord in cash too. Was new to the country with no credit history so leasing was out of the question.

Two years ago I bought my daughter a VW Golf in Toronto and paid in full. I was away from the country for so long I have no credit rating there.

Sometimes things aren't the way you see on the surface.

Re bolded point: many people complain about Rolex ADs selling through the backdoor taking advantage of the high demand, which is "unfair" to the people waiting in line for one.

By the same token, if the sellers sold in a first come first serve basis, how's there a "bidding war"?

Trust me, no one in their right mind wants to spend more than necessary on a purchase, Chinese or not.
 

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There is a lot not to like in the last few pages of this thread. A strong theme: Ignorance.

One of my favorite cities is Shanghai, having visited dozens of times while working. I remember two distinctly different and striking experiences while there on a couple of trips:

1) The presence of multiple generations of families outside together while strolling along the foreshore (Bund). Well-dressed, busy, happy and enjoying an ultra-modern cityscape that would be hard to see anywhere else in the world. Anywhere.

4) Four blocks from the above scene on a given day: A small crowd watching an outside TV screen (10 meters across) displaying CNN in the process of covering political events in the U.S.. Cartoons would have been far less embarrassing and undoubtedly more intellectual. This was near a very high-end shopping area, also near the Bund and close to our regular layover hotel (Marriott).

Seperately, Hong Kong looks like your best, favorite US city, but at least 100 years in the future given current engineering, design, construction, economies, commerce, and natural setting. It's amazing.

I'm no travel guide and want no part of the political thesis that could easily qualify any brief description like mine, here, but I would just mention that cliche'd remarks from traditionally American points of view regarding "realities" anywhere outside America might need a major heading change in order to reflect current facts. One can find examples of just about anything, but not one example of everything.
 
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