In Hong Kong you need to know the beauty spots and small patches where life still makes sense. And over the years, I found ways to connect them and hop from one to the other. I call it my “Hong Kong Ho Chi Minh Path”, named after the secret ways the the Vietkong took to supply their resistance against the carpet bombing of “Western Values”. This is the way I connect remaining small places which somehow were resilient enough, not to become a shopping mall.
I assume, the rest of Hong Kong, is just an anthropological experiment to verify the hypothesis that uncurbed capitalism does not make sense, and does not work for the benefit of society. Hong Kong’s commercial and professional world is a mobilée of hamster wheels, consumption, dealmakers and administration. In 1993 William Gibson wrote in the Wired Magazine, that Singapore would be “Disneyland with the Death Penalty”. Of course, that’s exaggerated. But Hong Kong, which is often compared with Singapore, does not even try to make it’s citizens happy. So, what is it? It has the culture of a Pawn shop and the skills of an ATM machine. Banker’s Lala-Land?
Anyway, I am staying on my secret paths through the concrete jungle and robotic humans commuting to the from rabbit cage home (with up to 60 year mortgages) to hamster wheel and back. It’s freezing in the cubicals. Nobody can control even the aircon. And in their gazing eyes you can see nothing but the dream of the next generation iPhone. That’s it: the purpose of life. It’s like thousands of years people were exploring ways to locate their position on the planet. Then came … whooom (!) - GPS. Problem solved. Purpose of life in Hong Kong? … whooom (!) - iPhone. Apple solved it.
Of course, there is a spark sometimes: somebody or something standing out. Otherwise, why should I keep Hong Kong on my mental map? Personal nostalgia is for sure, not a good reason. I just hope these sparks can ignite something. Perhaps not here, but somewhere else. Here the risk is high, that it ends like in Rilke’s Panther.
I keep counting the ships anchoring empty in the South China Sea, off the outer Islands. They are a good indicator on how world trade is going. Now there are quite a few ships. But not as many as in 2008. And then there are the empty days. I count them as well.