Hong Kong – It’s a Dog’s Life or is it!

In November I finally made it to Hong Kong!  I thought I would go years ago when the British crown colony was transferred to China in 1997, there was considerable uncertainty amongst those who called Hong Kong home.


Many families that decided to move to Vancouver needed estate planning and I helped several of them.  Never was there the actual need to travel to Hong Kong as the clients came to me, so to speak.


Now, I’d like to share my perspective about my experience there.  Perspectives are bundles of beliefs, a mindset that we embrace determined how we see one another, our experiences and possibilities or lack thereof.  Consequently, my perception is mine alone.  I mean no offence to those who adore Hong Kong.  There are millions of you.


Hong Kong is overcrowded with a fast-paced buzz.  Clearly, the city is about MONEY.  Looking around the designer shops in the mall located below our hotel in Central District, I began to appreciate the HongKongers’ desire for status symbols.  That mall was a drop in the designer bucket.  I have not seen the size and scope of designer shopping anywhere else I have been, not in Beverly Hills, 5th Avenue, Mayfair, or Avenues George V.


‘Central’ on Hong Kong Island is a mecca for the finance industry, designer shopping and fine dining.  My Google maps could not content with its labyrinth of busy streets with over and under passes.  I easily got lost.  In my casual daytime tourist clothing I was the worst dressed person in the hotel.


Taking the Star Ferry to Kowloon offered a reprieve as we walked along her shoreline, however within minutes we found ourselves surrounded by more designer store.  As we walked further from the water we found the Jade Market.  What I had hoped would be a spectacular display of Jade ornaments and jewelry turned out to be row upon row of not so special.  The shopkeepers refused to let us browse.  I don’t do well with pushy salespeople, so we left abruptly band began exploring the area of the night markets.


My first night market experience was in Chang Mai, Thailand some twenty years ago.  I found it fascinating.  Kowloon’s was not that.  Each block had a least two ‘foot massage’ shops where one would find a scantily dressed, over made-up, young hostess to welcome you in.  We walked by a plethora of noodle shops, herbal shops, restaurants, and shops that sold only dehydrated fish.  I grew sad as I browsed at the latter calculating how many fish had been killed to fill the shelves of this store alone.


Further down the road were a group of maids sitting on flattened cardboard boxes on the sidewalk of a busy street sharing a meal.   There are so many maids in Hong Kong that on Sundays you see them gathering for ‘picnics’ in any cemented area they can find that is free of cars.


I was told that every class of people have domestic help, most of whom come from the Philippines.  They are given room and board however where they live could be in a garage or sleeping under the kitchen table.  During Covid we were told that many had to sleep outside or in stairwells.  Working day and night, six days a week, Sunday is their only day off.


We were invited to dinner in with a family who live in a three-bedroom semidetached home in Kowloon.  We learn that to buy it would require £48 million.  We were fortunate enough to attend an anniversary celebration of a posh Golf & Country Club.  The setting was gorgeous and the party fantastic.  I too could become a member for close to a £1 million joining fee.


We took a ride up the Peak Tram to get a fabulous view of Hong Kong.  It is no doubt stunning.  Interestingly the substantial number of shops and restaurants at the top of the tram were surprising but shouldn’t have been.  Shopping is a favorite activity.


As we followed the trail from the tram around the Peak we were treated to gorgeous scenery, foliage, flowers and trees and a lot of dogs.  We saw a wedding where two dogs were adorned in chiffon and lace.  We saw dogs in sweaters, scarves or often inside carriages being pushed along by their owners Not surprisingly we were told that dogs are considered a status symbol.


Hong Kong is changing.  Hong Kong airport is undergoing a major expansion.  I have never seen so many cranes and mountains of sand as they reclaim more land from the sea to accommodate what will arguably be one of the busiest airports in the world when she is finished.  Speaking English is lessening as is speaking Cantonese.  The Mandarin language is the way forward.


Friends and business colleagues that live there love it.  They say they enjoy the energy and the culture.  For me, it is void of culture or rather, money is the culture.  From my perspective there is too much show and too much ado about dough for my taste.


Lastly I left wondering how Communist China will marry the deep-rooted capitalist values of Hong Kong to theirs.


Like India, I appreciated Hong Kong, but it wasn’t my cup of tea.  Maybe it’s because I grew up in the vast country that is Canada.  I am simply not comfortable with too many people per square kilometer.  My senses go into overdrive, and I find myself overwhelmed.




Interestingly, when I did a group bicycling trip in Morocco when I was forty, we were warned about the wild dogs.  We were told to get our bikes in between us and the dog if confronted by one.  Sur enough, I was chased by a wild dog while its master looked on, not doing a thing as the animal growled, barked, and snipped at my feet.


Happily, I did get my bike in between me and that dog.  Unfortunately, I took a spill as I forgot about my toe clips that resulted in a bruise the size of a grapefruit on my leg.


On a later bike trip to Thailand, the dogs were the essence of calm.  As we whirled by on our bicycles the dogs at the side of the road continued to sleep.   And this was true too when we spent a time in Phuket after Hong Kong.  The dogs slept quietly on sidewalks and entrance ways to stores not bothered by the passersby in the least.  It seems the Buddha-nature is rife within the Thai canine psyche.


And then there are the dressed to the nine’s Hong Kong doggies riding in their fancy carriages.  They are pampered and happy.


It seems to me, and perhaps only to me, that the culture of a region is represented by their dogs.


Woof, Woof.  Not my usual introspective meaningful blog I know, however, at this crazy time in history, we all could use more levity. Wishing you and yours (including your pets) the happiest of holidays, filled with mirth, joviality, and merriment.


No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.