Spirits of Place: Hong Kong

New York City is the quintessential urban environment in the Americas. Over on the other side of the globe there are some tough contenders. Beijing is too polluted, Shanghai has killer traffic, and Singapore can be repressive. So my favorite is Hong Kong.
What makes Hong Kong perfect?  Well, like all great cities it is highly urban.  Traffic, tall buildings, masses of people.  It also has a powerful personality all its own; when you are in Hong Kong you know it.

But what I loved about it when I lived there was that you can buy anything.  The city has been a center of trade for hundreds of years.  I remember stepping into an alleyway news vendor’s pitch — all it was was publications stuck to the brick wall in makeshift bamboo racks presided over by a wizened old man who spoke only Cantonese — and buying copies of Aquaman comics.  There was probably no other place in Asia where you could do that in the 70’s.

And every great city has to have great food.  Chinese food in Hong Kong is actually better than it is in China– if you are a good chef you can make lots more money there.  Which brings me to the other essential requisite, money.  Lots and lots of money flowing in and out has gotten Hong Kong a subway system, skyscrapers, all kinds of jazzy amenities.  I haven’t been back there in years, but I love it still.
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About Brenda Clough

Brenda W. Clough spent much of her childhood overseas, courtesy of the U.S. government. Her first fantasy novel, The Crystal Crown, was published by DAW in 1984. She has also written The Dragon of Mishbil (1985), The Realm Beneath (1986), and The Name of the Sun (1988). Her children’s novel, An Impossumble Summer (1992), is set in her own house in Virginia, where she lives in a cottage at the edge of a forest. Her novel How Like a God, available from BVC, was published by Tor Books in 1997, and a sequel, Doors of Death and Life, was published in May 2000. Her latest novels from Book View Cafe include Revise the World (2009) and Speak to Our Desires. Her novel A Most Dangerous Woman is being serialized by Serial Box. Her novel The River Twice is newly available from BVC.


Spirits of Place: Hong Kong — 3 Comments

  1. It’s a fairly Western Chinese city — like Shanghai. If you want the true white-devil experience you need to go to the mainland, where people will take your picture and point you out to their children. (“Look at her hair!”) Hong Kong is also fun because it was a British colony — so you have this generalized Western culture running beside a strong strain of Brit, surrounded by Chinese. The best English tea can still be gotten at the Peninsula Hotel, which also maintains a fleet of green Rolls Royces to take people to the airport.

  2. I spent a month in Hong Kong and got engaged there. My now-husband and I were lucky to have spent half our time in the city and the other half on one of the outlying islands. We were there during the Moon Festival, too.

    Hong Kong will always have a special place in my heart. I’d love to go back some day.