I’ve been working in a public space (Pacific Coffee Company) nearly the entire day on this last Monday of February 2013. As usual there are a good number of business meetings going on simultaneously. This happens in the U.S. as well but I think it is even more prevalent here in Hong Kong. It might be due to small offices, no offices, or that Hong Kongers really like coffee although I notice a goodly number of tea bags in cups as well.
While I’ve only been traveling to Hong Kong for three years I’ve already noticed that things seem to be changing – not for the better or worse – just changing. Westerners are not nearly as much in evidence as they were even as recently as 2010. I had an impromptu meeting with an American self-proclaimed headhunter who having lived in Hong Kong for more than 23 years offered an opinion that Hong Kong is dying. I think what he meant was that the old British-ruled Hong Kong is dying.
If it’s true that Hong Kong is dying the PRC with its preference for having Shanghai be the new true Asia financial center appears to not be all that interested in preserving Hong Kong legacy. To those that live in Hong Kong this should come as no surprise.
I’ve written before about how easy it is to live in Hong Kong for westerners. That’s still the case but I also offer that I am experiencing an increase in meeting people that speak Cantonese and zero English. That’s a bit frustrating for someone like me who is learning Mandarin since the two languages are vastly different. English is still the language of business in Hong Kong (despite hearing many different languages spoken), but the bulk of the residents don’t speak English. I am staying in the Western District for the first time and there is not much English spoken. Nor are there any 3rd places for that matter – no Starbucks, Pacific Coffee or anything of the sort. So I have to head down to the financial district which is shrinking little by little.
My headhunter acquaintance suggested I get up to Shanghai and Beijing where all the action is happening. I’ve worked in 3rd places when in both cities (well I’ve only been in Beijing once so that does not really count) and the meetings in Costa Coffee and Starbucks occur with the same frequency and intensity as I’ve seen here in Hong Kong. Everyone in Hong Kong (like seemingly everyone in New York and Shanghai) is on their mobile device constantly. I do find it interesting that Hong Kong has such a well-run transportation system, inexpensive, comprehensive, and rife with mobile service EVERYWHERE. In fact today I was able to buy a one-day wi-fi pass for about U.S. $2.50. That is simply not possible in the U.S.A. at the present time. I think that’s just sad.
I’ve had what’s turned out to be a very productive Monday and traveling gives me the much needed time to think about things that I never seem to have time for when I am working back home.
Sometimes getting away is the only way you can gain perspective, don’t you think?