Words by Edwin Hung
Photography by Edwin Chan
An Editorial by Edwin x Edwin
We already know Hong Kong is the financial hub and gateway to Asia. There are so many people making deals and transactions that the city moves at a lightning fast pace. But what does that actually mean? What does that actually feel like on the ground?
On the ground, you can be easily overwhelmed. This country inhabits over 7 million people in a space less than half the size of New York City. In order to accommodate such a dense population, Hong Kong contains over 300 skyscrapers, making it the most vertical city in the world. However, it isn’t simply about the sheer size and number of these statistics. It comes back to the pace of the city. Take one moment to observe your surroundings and they’ll pass you by, both figuratively and literally.
And that’s only what you see on the surface. In such an international city with a heavy focus on business and finance, you tend to forget that generations of people have been living here — for a long, long time. Their blood and sweat are soaked into the sides of the buildings. Each one of these lots contains a different story of a family who comes from a time that far exceeds even the largest corporations.
In an old refurbished police station turned cultural exhibit, new stories continue to be created. Local art and culture still breathes and grows despite the city’s focus on commerce and external political pressures. The umbrella movement and political resistance against the looming regulators from China show that Hong Kong is a country with an evolving identity and a purpose.
It is entirely possible to remain secluded in one area of Hong Kong, depending on where you live and where you work. However, if you decide to venture out and properly explore the city, the differences are staggering. I’m not talking about taking a tour or stopping at a few MTR stations. You really have to live all over Hong Kong to understand the city. Hong Kong is the most expensive housing market in the world, yet people of every level of prosperity continue to live here. The poor, the middle-class, and the rich all have their place and play their role.
Despite all the roads and buildings, people and cars, less than 25% of Hong Kong’s land mass are developed and 40% is kept as national parks and nature reserves. That is what makes Hong Kong special in a way that is easy to miss. No matter how high the skyscrapers reach, there are hikes that can take you much higher, even in the heart of the island.