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My favorite city in Asia

Everything about Hong Kong is to me is what an international city should be. While I have enjoyed living in Bangkok and Singapore, should Unilever ever open up an office in Hong Kong, I’d be there in a flash!

There are some very clear contrasts between the HK, SIN anf BKK…

Work environment and ethic

  • HK: strong and intense, NY-style, investment bankers galore, intensely achievement oriented
  • SIN: more Chinese style, hard working but sometimes it seems earning money is really about buying status objects and less about achievement
  • BKK: mai pen rai, Thai for “whatever, never mind, who cares”

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Energy level

  • HK: high and contagious
  • SIN: Orchard Road retail frenzy, lah
  • BKK: again mai pen rai

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Activities

  • HK: wide and varied from high-end shopping to rich cultural pursuits, posh / lux restaurants and a vibrant nightlife with lots of live music
  • SIN: shopping, eating, expensive taxi ride to different mall, then more shopping, more eating…while one can go to see the opera or ballet here (unlike BKK), it seems many choose not to
  • BKK: haggling in the markets or paying for overpriced Prada in malls, eating street food or fine dining, but a marked lack of anything cultural (e.g. music, performing arts)…if it doesn’t involve food or shopping most Thai’s simply aren’t interested

Historical Awareness

  • HK: a wide awareness and knowledge about the British colonial period balanced with a very Chinese culture, everyone from taxi drivers to the average sales clerk can tell you something new and different about HK
  • SIN: A relatively new city whose history museum’s exhibits from the 1940’s are considered historic…new is preferred in SIN, but to be fair they have done a good job or retaining and refurbishing some of the old historic neighborhoods to preserve a feeling of the [recent] history
  • BKK: no interest in history whatsoever, if it is new and trendy then it captures attention – in fact there are really no antiques or historic old buildings in Thailand (outside of temples), because old = bad, run down, dirty AND new = desirable, attractive

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Expat Community
Well, one must view a country based on its local people, but being an expat in Asia I did notice a distinct difference in the expats between these cities.

  • HK: highly educated professionals (many single) with an international mindset, who often blend with their local coworkers and end up staying and becoming long-term residents
  • SIN: Also well educated expats (more families than singles), but it seems there is less inclination to blend with the locals – with expats choosing large gated apartment communities..maybe because it feels like an American suburb people choose to live like they are in an American suburb
  • BKK: some professionals, but largely sex-pats who come to “party” in a unique way that only Thailand can offer…did I ever mention the bar Baccarat which features a clear glass second floor on which girls with no underwear dance to entertain the patrons below on the first floor? This was about 2 blocks from my apartment in Bangkok – classy.

Having spent a good amount of time in all 3 cities, I would say there is a certain vibrancy in Hong Kong that is almost indescribable – a sense of constant movement and progress. A sense of adventure of never knowing what lies around the next corner.  And it seems I am no longer alone in my fondness of Hong Kong –  Paul’s question upon returning from his first trip recently was, “when can we move?”

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