As I arrived in Hong Kong, I was not quite sure what to expect. While I understood it was where East met West, I questioned how that would play out within the life of the city. Would it be more West than East or the converse? Once I saw the stunning views and the immensity of the city, I found that it would be equally East and West.
The first thing I did as I awoke was to explore the city with Kevin and Phil. As I walked the shore line, I could not believe the towering skyscrapers and the beautiful bay. If it were not for the Chinese writing, I would have thought I was in New York City, yet it was different in many ways.
The city was a picture of juxtapositions.
Hong Kong was very much in tune with what the younger generation needs. Technology rules the day in Hong Kong. As we looked onto the Apple store, we realized the new phone was released that day. Scores of people were ready to get their hands on the latest phone.
Even as people clamored for the phones, one could not help but see this city as ancient as well. These “natural medication” shops were every where. While the city was very modern, it was also primitive.
This photo on one of the busier streets in the financial district demonstrated its modern appeal with mixtures of antiquated methods. The street cars were certainly helpful, but they had been around many years.
One thing that struck me about Hong Kong was the wealth. Whether it was Cartier, Tiffany’s Ferrari’s or Gucci, it was evident that Hong Kong was a great city of wealth. Unfortunately, there too was a contrast. Once we learned the process of China’s vacation policy, it was easy to see that much of the wealth was generated by outside sources.
For me, one of the best experiences within the city was the opportunity to share it with a group of peers that challenged my thinking and offered encouragement and direction for this doctoral journey. Whether we were walking to Starbucks in the morning or eating at Hutong, one of the top Chinese restaurants in the world with a spectacular view.
The greatest ideal that stuck with me in Hong Kong was the juxtaposition between young and old.
While I watched this old man exercise, I cannot help but think what he had seen in Hong Kong. Did he experience the transfer of power from the British. Will he be alive as the power is transferred back to China? I pondered whether he saw China as a threat in the 80s and 90s, or whether they have been an ally in his mind?
As we were taught at Linklaters, China would look more like Hong Kong in the next 30 years. The future seems sure to the brilliant and hospitable staff at the great law firm.
While the future does seem bright for both Hong Kong and China, I wondered if everyone sees it with that perspective. The main question that haunted while I was in the beautiful land was simple. What is it like not to know for sure that freedom is secure? What will this generation of young Hong Kongers’ feel about themselves? Are they from Hong Kong or in thirty years will they say they are from China? Can a western culture truly merge with an eastern one? It seems like it can and for Hong Kong’s sake, I hope it will.