Hong Kong’s Not So Rich People

Just some days ago during an event at Cyberport, Hong Kong’s Tech Hub, I took a look out the window and noticed that right downstairs a rich guy and a not so rich guy (should I call him poor?) are living.

I find it interesting that these kinds of things are defined somewhat differently in other countries like Germany for example 🙂

P.S.: This post is more in the non-sense category, but after all the ‘serious’ stuff recently, I wanted to share another view about live in Hong Kong. By the way, none of the cars are mine and I am also not living there unfortunately. The houses are small, but they are bloody expensive.

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This is Hong Kong – Everything Covered

This nicely done timelapse of Hong Kong and it’s people is definitely worth kozen’s world! Just click “play” below:

It covers everything: skyline by day and night, temple street night market, shopping, ICC (tallest building in HK), HK airport (by Norman Foster), bus rides, nature, bicycle rides, cultural centre, harbor, ferries, container ships, symphony of lights, and demonstrations.

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The Day The Awning Collapsed

… was yesterday. Cass and I were out all day and I came back first; at around 11:30pm from Squash. I noticed the apartment was really dark and I quick saw that the awning on our terrace collapsed.

This is what happened: A couple of months ago Hong Kong’s Buildings Department (BD) started cracking down on illegal structures all over Hong Kong. For about 6 years our landlord received mail from the buildings department on a regular basis about the awning on our terrace. Yes, they might not have had a permit to build it, but the awning was a proper construction; made out of solid wood poles and nice half-transparent roof. Well, the BD’s standpoint was: illegal, tear down, now! So with their crack down initiative, they actually sent our landlord a court order to dismantle the awning which of course, they did. Right, and a fine of HK$ 50,000 (€4.480).

Having that paid, the landlord stalled in install a retractable awning – which does not require a permit, but is quite costly. Koz being Koz, was sending nasty emails to our landlord tell him (or better their secretary / property manager) to freakin’ install something there. If Koz rents an apartment with terrace and awning, he is entitled to that. If there is no awning, I was about to deduct a flat 25% from the rent (for those $2,500 (€224) Cass and I could fly to Phuket and back over a weekend). Well, that threat had helped and they fairly quick (for Chinese measures) in putting something up. This is how it looked like yesterday morning:

From an engineering point of view, this installation was – how to say – terrifying. It rained a bit before and therefore water piled up in there. I couldn’t even open the terrace door properly because it would hit the awning. Side note: our landlord owns around 100 properties in the Sheung Wan area in Hong Kong, two antiquities galleries on Hong Kong’s Hollywood Rd. and one in New York’s SoHo. So you could get the impression that they know at least a bit about business especially with their experience in managing and running 100 properties in HK. This is their website btw: Dragon Culture. It is a small family ran business and I assume all family members are multi-millionaires. Yet, every single time Chinese people (no matter they are behind the communist walls or here in Hong Kong) do something – even if they did it a hundred times before – the result looks like they did that for the very first time in their life. It is always the very cheapest way in doing things. Quality does not matter, sustainability does not matter, environmental protection does not matter, the only thing that matter is money: “Make it cheap or cheaper and quick, now.”

So yeah, back to the topic: It was raining the whole day yesterday and when I came back home that awesome awning “construction” they built the day before, collapsed. Another example of wasted time, resources, nerves and money.

I couldn’t bother with it at all, so I went to sleep. Who cares that it crashed onto my clothes hanging outside drying; who cares that caused by the collapse (and the 1 cm gaps in between each terrace door) water was leaking into the apartment right till under the coffee table. I sent a rather nasty email to our landlord again this morning which Cass commented: “Wah you are so sarcastic!” Yeah well, I doubt our landlord is ever gonna ‘get’ that.

To be continued …

P.S.: The result of the Buildings Department’s crackdown on illegal structures, made ours a lot more insecure. Well done.

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Dragon Boat Racing in Discovery Bay

Yesterday was the dragon boat festival in Hong Kong — public holiday too. So for the first time in years I managed to attend the races in Discovery Bay which is only of many competitions taking place in Hong Kong.

The news reported that it was one of the hottest days in the year and it definitely felt like that! It was completely impossible to stay in the sun. With some showers in between it cooled down for 5 minutes and then heat was back on. I don’t remember who actually won the races, but it looked like a lot of exercise for all the participants. It is probably not that easy to paddle a boat at full speed in a non-rowing manner.

Remember the ship I wrote about a couple of days ago? I think it paid us a visit at Discovery Bay as well:

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Not all ships are equal

Who finds the ship that doesn’t quite fit in?

Deutsch: Wer findet das Schiff, was nicht so richtig hier rein passt?

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How long do you need to get to your office?

Hong Kong is a nice place with lots of offices and most of those are cramped up on Hong Kong Island, often around the Central area. Therefore, a lot of people are rushing onto HK Island day after day, from the outlying islands, Kowloon the dark side or some even from Macau or China Mainland.

As we recently moved office, I finally got my direct sea harbour view and (coincidentally) got the office closer to my apartment. 🙂 For some reason, I woke up 5:45 this morning and could not go back to sleep again. I guess my usual sleeping pattern of around 7 hours worked last night too as I went to bed quite early. It was quite a weird feeling to walk through the streets of HK with barely any people out there. I passed may be 100 people on my walk and that is a crazy low number for a walk of a little less than 1 km. I even stopped by an ATM to get some cash and then continued walking.

At fluffy 24ºC and 57% humidity it took me pretty much exactly 8 minutes and 45 seconds door to door from home to the office (including the ATM stop).

How long do you need to get to work?

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Buddha’s Birthday on Cheung Chau: Bun Mountains, Heat and Thousands of People

It felt like every single person out of Hong Kong’s population of around 7,000,000 came to that little island. Yet, nobody was able to tell me how old Buddha would have been if he still lived. On top of this it was so hot on Cheung Chau Island (30+ºC, 95% humidity) that I had to jump into the first half-decent looking store and buy an original Chinese cowboy hat! Looks cool, huh?

The picture on the right was taken quite a while after the parade which we attended from a spectator’s position. I took a couple of short clips of some of the attractions of the parade and so I also took some minutes just now and experimented with Apple’s iMovie app. Check out the short(!) 7 minute cut of the parade:

After the parade we walked around a bit and found the “bun mountain” 包山 which is being climbed up by people during the Cheung Chau Bun Festival 包山節 or Cheung Chau Da Jiu Festival 長洲太平清醮 which “is a traditional Chinese festival on the island of Cheung Chau in Hong Kong. Being held annually, and with therefore the most public exposure, it is by far the most famous of such Da Jiu festivals, with Jiu (醮) being a Taoist sacrificial ceremony. Such events are held by mostly rural communities in Hong Kong, either annually or at a set interval of years ranging all the way up to once every 60 years (i.e. the same year in the Chinese astrological calendar).” Source: Wikipedia

Because Cheung Chau is such a small Island, there are no cars allowed. In fact, there aren’t even buses and I haven’t seen motorbikes neither. The authorities, firefighters and police though, need their cars and therefore, they drive around in mini-versions which looks pretty funny I have to say. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the firefighter quad bike – that one looked really cool!

Later that day we wanted to go back home to Hong Kong Island and the only way to do so is to catch a ferry. Even though New World First Ferry had additional ferries operating, there were far way too many people on Cheung Chau and queue for the ferry was incredibly long! So we decided to stop at the next local Döner Kebab place and try their “Turkish Pizza” (which was good) and their “Kebab Roll” (which was crap). After one and a half hour of waiting we thought there might be less people now and tried to find the end of the line. Turned out we had to walk 1 km to find that one!!! Check out the map:

Source: Google Maps

Summary: It is good to see it – once. No need to go there next year 🙂

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Hong Kong Central Tram Jam

It doesn’t happen very often, but from time to time there is a tram jam in Hong Kong. For those of you who don’t know the Hong Kong Tram (called “Ding Ding” by locals because it ‘ding dings’ all the time to scare away all those jaywalkers); it is probably the oldest public transport system in Hong Kong which commenced operation back in 1904. With a fare of just $2 (US$0.26, €0.18) the tram provides the cheapest way to get from Hong Kong Islands most western station Kennedy Town to the most eastern station Shau Kei Wan in just under two hours (taxi 15 minutes).

Anyway, a couple of days ago I went home by tram and luckily I was traveling towards the right direction (west). Eastern bound trams got stuck for ages in Central due to some incident which I didn’t really see – I just noticed an ambulance standing in the middle of the road and blocking everything. Anyways, here are some photos from that day:

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Afternoon Dark in Hong Kong

And again I have a short video to share. This time we see Hong Kong on a Sunday afternoon (today April 17th, 2011) at 3:30 p.m. (for my European readers that’s 15:30 ;)).

The past days we probably had the best weather you can imagine. With an average temperature of 22.5˚C (72.5˚F) April is one of the best months of the year (source Climate of Hong Kong – Wikipedia). It was warm, yet not too warm and still felt very comfy. Yesterday, it got a bit more humid and sticky which – like everywhere – was an indication that rain was about come upon us. At the above video you saw how that can look like — compare that to the sunny day a week ago 🙂

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The Hennessey Roof Top Bar in Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Two days ago we went to The Hennessey roof top. It has one of the most amazing views of Hong Kong. Everyone who visited us in Hong Kong knows what I am talking about. For those who consider coming to Hong Kong, here a little teaser recorded with my BlackBerry Torch camera. Lighting is far from optimal and somehow the auto-focus was drunk during the second half of the video. Anyway, enjoy:

At the top floor (#31) you get a quite decent Aussie steak house called Wooloomooloo. They operate a bar / outdoor club on the roof which can also be reserved for private parties. Unfortunately, that was the case when we wanted to bring J & Giz over there (afair).

Remember my post about Scaffoldings? I mentioned The Oakhill building in there and just saw when shooting that video; it has been uncovered. So this what the developer was hiding behind the green covers.

P.S.: I think Gizen.de is down — that’s very unfortunate.

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