in a Blender: Hong Kong’s Multiple Personalities (cont.)
Rocking slowly with the waves on
the historic ferry, I gazed at the skyline of the
city’s Wanchai, Admiralty and Central areas. As the
lights, and colors danced on the dark waters, I began
to feel the enchantment of Hong Kong.
The ferry eased into its moorings,
like a shuttle docking with a giant space station,
and the gates opened to release the eager crowd. The
solid wall of glass and steel buildings outside the
ferry terminal cast a sharp contrast with Tsim Sha
Tsui’s hawkers and street cafes, less than a mile
The high-end boutiques and chichi
restaurants made me incredibly self-conscious about
my attire. My casual uniform of cargo pants and a
t-shirt that had blended seamlessly into to the chaos
of Tsim Sha Tsui now felt out of place.
I found myself surrounded by a herd
of corporate suits rushing in every direction with
a conviction and drive that left me wondering where
the fire was. I dove into the throng and made my way
to the front of the HSBC Building, where I had arranged
to meet my friend.
The unique, Norman Forster designed
building dominates the Hong Kong skyline. It has come
to represent the uncompromising business attitude
of Hong Kong people. It better resembles science fiction
than a financial center -- an exoskeleton of steel
tubing connecting 47 glass stories.
The center of the building is raised
above the ground, providing a walkway underneath and
allowing the beauty of the design to be seen in all
its glory. Standing at the base of the building I
could see directly up through the open vertical atrium
area to the executive floors some thirty stories above.
I was pleased to see my friend Tim
waiting for me. I felt rescued even if it was by a
member the suited mass. He looked me up and down.
“What?” I asked.
He produced an artificial smile
and told me he knew the perfect place to take me.
We walked back up the hill to Lan Kwai Fong, the city’s
“party” district. Here, throngs of suits milled through
the streets, beer in hand, loudly recounting the day’s
We turned up a small side street
and Tim pointed to a small, softly lit bar at the
end of the street. The sign above the door read, “Club
64.” The bar’s name commemorated the Beijing Massacre
on June 4, 1989.
As we walked into the bar, the eclectic
crowd and the mix of art and graffiti on the walls
lifted the weight of self-consciousness from my tired
shoulders. The bar hummed with the lively discussions
of the writers, artists and political activists who
made it their second home.
I ordered us a pint and sat down
with a crowd of Tim’s friends -- some locals and some
expatriates. As the beer flowed, we discussed the
subtleties of a city with extreme multiple personalities.
Later when we settled our tab, it became clear that
while the bar’s ambience was unique, the prices were
not. I had just bought two drinks for the cost of
my entire dinner in Tsim Sha Tsui.
“Welcome to Hong Kong,” Tim
said with a grin.
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