HONG KONG: THE COLOR OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE
Take a pen: you need to write down important for the first minutes in Hong Kong. Why burn?Because to fly ten hours (if from Moscow) and five time zones ahead. Due to the time difference it will be difficult to think. This is the first. Second: here it is wet – tropics. Third: there is housing without kitchens (due to high prices), but the city itself is a kitchen. Hong Kong, which is a topographic wok pan (where Hennessy Road, Wanchai Metro, Johnston Road are all mixed up), smells fizzy, sizzling, boiling, boiling oil from thousands of street taverns. And still rumbles with perforators and hammers, squeals with circular saws.
So, write down the points to re-read when the time comes:
1. The roar from the construction will not disappear anywhere. He is in Hong Kong almost always and almost everywhere. This is the city and the place where the construction does not end there – that is, Hong Kong is an eternal construction.
2. A bowl of tasteless noodles in a street tavern will cost 500 rubles in terms of local currency. And for a delicious meal you need to go to a restaurant with prices higher than the delicious meal in London.
3. No, this is not mainland China: the street does not yell at a million mouths, does not wave at a million hands, does not eat at two million chopsticks – although, of course, everyone eats with chopsticks. This is a special zone of China, and the Chinese have to get a visa to get here – unlike the Russians, who, since 2009, do not need a visa to travel up to two weeks.
4. No, this is not the UK (and not because of the lack of a visa), even if almost everyone speaks English with a strong accent. But here live the heirs of the Crown, who adopted the main principle of the British gentleman: the idea, the mission, the goal above the amenities. Hong Kong, if you will, the British Mowgli. The city and locality, which lost their parents in the tropics of British parents, however, they remembered their lessons and learned not only to live in the jungle, but also to dictate their own laws to the jungle.
If you’re lucky, the hotel will give you a local gadget – a pocket Internet communicator, which you can call anywhere for free and that distributes the Internet to your smartphone for free too. And we go to inspect Hong Kong.
Lecture at Victoria Peak
Ladies and Gentlemen!
In cities growing so fast that they do not care about the past, throwing chips of architectural history into the fire of new ambitions – that is, in cities like Moscow or Hong Kong – there is one specific convenience.
Such accelerated cities do not care so much about tourists that they do not have to choose what to look at. In Moscow: Red Square, the Tretyakov Gallery, Sparrow Hills, the Novodevichy Convent, boulevards … And that’s all, Moscow is viewed in its entirety. Not in the South Butovo drive with educational purposes. In Hong Kong, the places required for inspection, too little, but they are all necessary for inspection.
The most important of them is Victoria Peak, taking off 553 meters above Hong Kong Island, which locals simply call Peak. This is not only a steep mountain, but also a height limiter for skyscrapers: local law prohibits building them above Peak. For the sake of a view from here, an irrational tourist is besieging the ancient funicular that raises a half kilometer – it takes an hour and a half to wait in line. A reasonable tourist chooses a seat on the second floor of a regular bus and goes up along the serpentine road, noting the main thing along the way: the higher they live in Hong Kong, the more expensive they live. It is clear why. In summer, the heat is not that hell, but the humidity is under 100 percent, and the mountains are preferable to the coast. As we rise, there are less and less luxurious office skyscrapers and less and less dilapidated residential skyscrapers, but more and more quiet condominiums and villas. At the very top, the price per square meter reaches a dizzying 85 thousand US dollars.
Here, under our feet, we have a view of the wooded and skyscraper slopes, the South China Sea, the winding shores of Victoria Bay, the mountains on the Kowloon Peninsula. We are lucky: the first British governors of Hong Kong could not observe such a view, if only because the slopes of the Peak were treeless and the entire population of Hong Kong Island numbered several hundred Chinese peasants from the neighboring province of Guangdong.
The history of Hong Kong, as the whole world knows it, should be counted from the 1840s, when Hong Kong, as a war trophy, was taken by Britain from China during the war, called Opium. It was a war for the British opium merchants to freely deliver their high-return goods to Bengal from China – in general, the war is not one of which the grandchildren are proud of. China could not resist because, having spent centuries behind the great Chinese wall of contempt for the rest of the world, it overcame the industrial revolution. In 1842, under the Nanking Treaty, Hong Kong (that is, Hong Kong Island and Kowloon Peninsula) became a British colony. Half a century later, in 1898, Britain borrowed 368 square miles of mainland land from the weakening China for 99 years – the so-called New Territories.
All this time, the British did exactly what they did in many other colonial possessions. They built a duty-free port, open to all the flags of the world (a sharp contrast with China, which foreigners did not allow to itself.