*take nothing for granted!
Unless otherwise indicated all photos © Richard McKie 2005 - 2015

Who is Online

We have 73 guests and no members online

Translate to another language

Article Index

Hong Kong

Hong Kong is one of those places that most Australians seem to be familiar with.  Not only is it a convenient stop on the way to somewhere else but many Chinese Australians, going back as far as the gold-rushes, have their ancestral roots here or close by.  Cantonese, spoken in Hong Kong was the dominant language of origin. In spite of a new wave of Mandarin speaking people arriving in Australia from further North, in the Mosman Fish and Chip shop we still say: 'mm gai' or 'do jai' - not the Mandarin: 'sez sez'. Actually, everyone speaks Australian English so we more often we just say 'thanks', when carrying off our (polyunsaturated) oily treat with its over-generous helping of chips.

On paper, the general standard of living is much higher in Hong Kong than in China.  Household final consumption expenditure per capita in Hong Kong is third highest in the World, on a par with the United States.  Mainland China comes after 110 other countries in that race, with only one ninth of the nominal Hong Kong buying power per household.

Until recently, well, during my recent memory, Hong Kong, comprising Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories, was a British territory. But China was unhappy about the treaty arrangements.  Under the Thatcher prime ministership there was a stand-off with China threatening to invade.  Then, with discretion being the better part of valour, Britain began preparations for a planned withdraw.  Thus in 1997 under the Blair prime ministership, Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China.

As more recent visitors have noticed, even under new management, Hong Kong continued to develop rapidly.  Perhaps not as much physically as Singapore, the other once British territory in the region, but sufficiently to have long surpassed their Imperial progenitor in nominal wealth per capita, based on international purchasing power.

 

Hong Kong Financial District

 

As indicated above, household purchasing power in Hong Kong is on a par with the United States. Mind you, a visit to the actual city or country confirms what many are more inclined to believe. Purchasing power isn't everything.  For example to me, a middle class life in an English village is a vastly more attractive proposition than life in a high rise tower in Hong Kong. 

We all base our choice of home on many more factors than material purchasing power.  This has been somewhat bizarrely demonstrated recently in Australia where we are discovering that an extraordinary number of our parliamentarians are dual citizens.  A parliamentary discussion paper estimates that up to a quarter of all Australians are entitled to dual citizenship. Based on my acquaintances I'm surprised that it's that low.  This cultural ambiguity no doubt contributes to a very high propensity to international travel.  We dual citizens could choose to live somewhere else but have chosen our homeland with our feet, irrespective of Australia's ranking in international tables.

I first visited Hong Kong way back in the British days when I went with some Australians to a very nice British sports club frequented by expatriates convinced of our collective superiority.  Those days are gone but much remains the same: the Peninsular Hotel still has a fleet of Rolls Royce limos; the tram still runs up Victoria Peak; the ferries still run; as do the double-decker trams in town.  But now there are many more modernist skyscrapers in the financial district and a forest of very high apartment blocks along the harbour side. 

 

Old and New

 

A metro has been added and continues to grow after each visit.  It's a commercial and financial powerhouse full of billionaires.   As they say in real estate there are three rules: location; location; location.  It's the gateway to China.

A couple of years ago, again with Craig and Sonia, we did most of the things on the tourist agenda: the peak; the ferries; Macau; the markets. Nevertheless the siren call of the latter still called to Wendy, so I decided on the museums.  These are very good and reminded us of how Hong Kong came to be here at all.  Like Singapore; India; and some argue Australia, it was all part of British commercial enterprise based on trade and the corresponding Empire building necessary to protect that commerce.

 

The British arrive

 

The Naval Museum details with some pride early Chinese seafaring achievements and the Museum of History records both prehistoric and more recent culture.  There are many selected pictures in the album from our trip (linked below).

 

 

Add comment


Security code
Refresh


    Have you read this???     -  this content changes with each opening of a menu item


Travel

Denmark

 

 

  

 

 

In the seventies I spent some time travelling around Denmark visiting geographically diverse relatives but in a couple of days there was no time to repeat that, so this was to be a quick trip to two places that I remembered as standing out in 1970's: Copenhagen and Roskilde.

An increasing number of Danes are my progressively distant cousins by virtue of my great aunt marrying a Dane, thus contributing my mother's grandparent's DNA to the extended family in Denmark.  As a result, these Danes are my children's cousins too.

Denmark is a relatively small but wealthy country in which people share a common language and thus similar values, like an enthusiasm for subsidising wind power and shunning nuclear energy, except as an import from Germany, Sweden and France. 

They also like all things cultural and historical and to judge by the museums and cultural activities many take pride in the Danish Vikings who were amongst those who contributed to my aforementioned DNA, way back.  My Danish great uncle liked to listen to Geordies on the buses in Newcastle speaking Tyneside, as he discovered many words in common with Danish thanks to those Danes who had settled in the Tyne valley.

Nevertheless, compared to Australia or the US or even many other European countries, Denmark is remarkably monocultural. A social scientist I listened to last year made the point that the sense of community, that a single language and culture confers, creates a sense of extended family.  This allows the Scandinavian countries to maintain very generous social welfare, supported by some of the highest tax rates in the world, yet to be sufficiently productive and hence consumptive per capita, to maintain among the highest material standards of living in the world. 

Read more ...

Fiction, Recollections & News

The Writer

 

 

The fellow sitting beside me slammed his book closed and sat looking pensive. 

The bus was approaching Cremorne junction.  I like the M30.  It starts where I get on so I’m assured of a seat and it goes all the way to Sydenham in the inner West, past Sydney University.  Part of the trip is particularly scenic, approaching and crossing the Harbour Bridge.  We’d be in The City soon.

My fellow passenger sat there just staring blankly into space.  I was intrigued.   So I asked what he had been reading that evoked such deep thought.  He smiled broadly, aroused from his reverie.  “Oh it’s just Inferno the latest Dan Brown,” he said.   

Read more ...

Opinions and Philosophy

The Origin of Life - according to God

 

 

 

Back in April 2013 I had another visit from our neighbourhood Jehovah's Witnesses,  a pretty young woman and her husband, recently married.   Like Daniel (mentioned elsewhere on this website) before them, they had brought copies of The Watchtower and Awake; which I agreed to read if they were prepared to read my paper: The Prospect of Eternal Life.

I keep a couple of copies of The Prospect of Eternal Life for just such occasions and have also given a copy to the local Anglican minister and to various other active proselytisers in the area; with similar conditions.  Of course I know it will not change their position but I do like to have the debate and amazingly so do they; it beats the usual reception they get; and they get some practice in trying to convert un-believers. 

When the couple asked my position I quickly summarised that in The Prospect of Eternal Life

Read more ...

Terms of Use                                           Copyright