A couple of posts back I referenced an article that claimed Hong Kong is the most livable city. Whilst I might not agree 100% with that finding, I certainly am seeing more reasons from my experience that gives it GOLD stars:
1. Health Care + Service.
My experience with the medical service has shown it is very accessible and efficient. For example this week I wanted to visit a dermatologist and after doing some digging around on Expat forums and other online sources I found one that had a good reputation and was in Central. I emailed to enquire about availability and straight away secured an appointment for the day I requested, at a suitable time. Impressive. And the cost was reasonable for an hour appointment with a copy of all the results on a CD. For reference, in The Netherlands I needed to do the same, and had to go through my GP to get an appointment and wait some weeks to see the specialist.
Also in general the service at restaurants and shops are excellent, but there are a few exceptions like at dinner last night we almost had to beg the waiter to take our order. I notice this is often related to the popular places that have the long queues outside. Be warned :-)
2. Personal Safety (but not necessarily good Health and Safety standards)
Someone asked me whether it was safe leaving the office at midnight, or travelling around at night on my own. Personally I feel very safe in Hong Kong. I take usual precautions like in any country but overall I would consider Hong Kong a very safe place to live and don't feel nervous walking around on my own or going for a run at night through the park.
Although Hong Kong's affluence is not equally distributed and there are many poor people living in the city, I don't believe this increases crime in the same proportions as in other countries with the same wealth gap. Certainly not violent crime. No doubt there is petty crime, and there are the usual signs in crowded places to watch out for pick pockets and don't leave your luggage unattended. Many of the apartments I see have bars on the window, and when I ask the real estate agents they laugh and respond: 'it is just done but no one thinks about it any more'. I think the biggest thing someone would need to watch out for is scamming and buying a bogus apartment.
The police force on the streets is noticeable, when I walk home from the MTR to my apartment on average I see at least one police person patrolling the area. So yes, two thumbs up to Hong Kong for public safety.
Though of course the air pollution is a drastic thumbs down, yesterday the street lights were on because the air was so smoggy, and we have an air cleaner permanently running in the apartment.
I don't think I have to explain this one too much, from my earlier posts it should be evident that you have access to a wide range of retail stores from the high end brands to the local markets. All at your doorstep.
4. It's a ROMANTIC City
Yes it is. :-) Ok I may be a little bias given my reason for coming here, but hear me out.
There are so many opportunities to go to a restaurant or bar with spectacular views, and it is a known fact that girls get a little giddy at a height, so hey I think guys have an easier job taking girls on special dates in Hong Kong since there is almost no limit to venues at a height.
Also the social norm of moving between venues on one night makes it a fun date culture.
And of course the range of activities available in Hong Kong means the standard movie date idea can be mixed up with all sorts of creative activities. My next hot date lined up: a night out at the races :-)
Finally, you would be surprised in this busy city just how many quiet spots for a stroll there are available, I have uncovered about five romantic walking routes already, but if I list them here perhaps they won't be so private anymore ;-)
5. Public Order
Even with the crowds it is nice to see people queuing politely for the train, and waiting in line for a restaurant in a very orderly way. But let's not carry this point too far, people do have this awkward hap hazard way of walking on the side walk that can honestly drive anyone nuts in a matter of weeks. J first mentioned it before I arrived in Hong Kong as a negative point, and I confess I thought to myself how bad can it really be. But alas I now have to force myself to remain calm at certain moments while walking along crowded streets, and I hear from other expats I'm not alone.
Again probably don't need to state the obvious on this point, that there are a variety of restaurants in the city to cater for any cuisine craving at almost any hour. And a range of prices to go with it. You can eat really cheaply like the locals, or if you are in the mood to burn money on a meal there are plenty of opportunities to do that too. Usually these high end restaurants equate to really good food, but the ratio of money to quality is not always equal, so word of mouth or OpenRice app is the way to go.
The people I am meeting here are all very diverse and interesting. I like that. Hong Kong is one of those special places in the world, like London or The Hague, that has become a melting pot of cultures and backgrounds. But what I really like about Hong Kong is that the people here are very friendly and open to meeting new people; there are meetups for almost anything (yes really. How many places you have you seen a meetup for those who have little dogs or those who like a certain author?) and they are always willing to accept new members. The thought of the opportunity to meet so many new and interesting people gives me a big thrill.
8. Public Transport
I LOVE the efficient and clean public transport system called the 'MTR', with the added bonus that the transport card called the Octopus you can use almost anyway to pay for things, meaning less hassle of always having cash on you. [Remind you of another British based card system? Apparently the Oyster card in London was based on the HK Octopus card]
9. The Weather
Hurray for warm weather. Finally I can walk around outdoors in October in a skirt or flip-flops without a jacket!
The downside: People apparently have a strong need to recover from this good weather and usually have the air-conditioning blasting so high indoors that I need to bring along my jacket for when I'm inside a building. The pricier the store the colder the temperature.
I found this weather forecast system in a building quite revealing. There is no option for HOT or WARM, since this is the norm, but they do have RAIN or SHOWER or TYPHOON as options for levels of rain strength. (it was on a mirror with the option lit up, pretty cool).