On January 1st, I left for a trip to Hong Kong. I had a bit of an idea of what to expect from reading guidebooks, but I was unprepared to face the “wow” factor of this city. It is truly amazing to see the difference between city life in China versus city life in Philadelphia. The difference in architecture, people and even food is amazing.
In Hong Kong when you cross the road no one stops unless there is a light and you have to sprint across the road if you don’t want to get run over. It is very rude to point at something with your index finger, so you have to use your whole hand. One skill that you have to have is called “pushing.” It is the best way to get through the crowds. Kowloon, the part of Hong Kong where my family and I were staying is one of the most densely populated urban areas in the world, which made just walking down the street quite an adventure.
Another thing that is different is the way that brand-names such as Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs have much more meaning in society. Hong Kong has been a center for upscale shopping for decades, but now newly successful people from mainland China come to Hong Kong to shop for ways to demonstrate their status. Buying very expensive luxury brands is a public way to show power and influence. There if you see someone with a Louis Vuitton bag you automatically know that they must be very successful. Here if you see a Louis Vuitton bag would you honestly even think about it? Here, it may be fake, but Hong Kong is known as a good place to go to buy authentic goods – except in the street markets! People wait in long lines just to get into some stores. I really didn’t know what Louis Vuitton was before I left and now I know it is a huge status statement because I visited the most profitable Louis Vuitton store in the world. I was even given a behind the scenes tour by the staff.
Hong Kong is one of the biggest fashion capitals in the world. I got to visit the Hong Kong Polytechnic University – called PolyU. There they have very large and successful fashion and design courses, which I toured with some students from Philadelphia University. My experience in Hong Kong has taught me a lot about a type of lifestyle that is much less important in the U.S.