Everything in Hongkong is limited regarding space, and every centimeter is used as good as it is possible. Restaurant tables get shared, shops open on the street, and the buildings get higher and higher to fit as many people in a small place as possible. That’s my first and lasting impression of Hongkong. But why is it like that and how affects it the life of people?
Hongkong has 7.5 Million people living in 1106 square kilometers, but most of the territory is covered with mountains and small islands where nobody can live. So, these 7.5 Million people share a small space, and that’s what’s got one of the biggest problems in the country. Hongkong is the city with the most skyscrapers in the world and apartment buildings with 50 floors are totally normal here. Yes, in China these tall apartment buildings are a fixed part of every skyline in nearly every city, but here in Hongkong, it’s a totally different thing. And in between these enormous apartment buildings, you can find even bigger office buildings, which makes the skyline one of the most amazing ones I ever saw.
Table sharing in a restaurant?
To visit the city it’s just amazing, one rooftop bar tops the other one, one skyscraper tops the other one, and there are endless possibilities to eat and go out. My Hostel room is very small, and the prices are high that was the first time I got in touch with the space problem. But walking trough the streets made it really clear what’s going on. In some districts, you can’t find one street corner without a shop or someone vending something on the street. The next thing I noticed, while eating in a restaurant, people are actually sharing tables, we were two people, and the table was for four people, so other two people were sitting on our table and in the middle, they changed, and we got two other neighbors, a thing not imaginable in Europe. After we finished lunch, they ask you to pay so the next costumers can sit on the table.
The living situation
I had the chance to talk with two locals, and at that moment I realized how bad the situation actually is. While walking in the streets, one of the locals told me that she is lucky to have an own flat. She told me that the flat costs 600 Euros a month, what is more then I paid for a 40 square meter apartment in the middle of Düsseldorf in Germany. When I asked her how big it was, I expected similar dimensions because in Asia the prices are normally a lot lower than in Europe. She has around 7 square meters… I was shocked. She showed me photos, and it was unbelievable. A bed, a fridge, mini cupboard and a shower with a toilet and sink/kitchen all in one. That’s it. 600 Euros in a month. Without an air conditional while, it is 40 degrees in the Summer. And to top it she said me that she can be happy to have an own flat. My mouth just dropped open.
Another local I met worked for PWC and needs to live with the family because she doesn’t earn enough to live by herself at all. She also has only a small room in the apartment of her parents and had to decide between a cupboard and a desk in the room. However, they don’t even live in the city center, and after working over 10 hours, she has to drive home for over an hour to get to the flat.
Just so you have a little feeling of the prices in Hongkong. They sell an apartment of 64 square meters for 3.7 million euros. And that’s not even in the city center. So, it’s just impossible for normal persons to get it.
The story about the Housekeepers
This photo is actually really sad. But I need to tell you the story behind it. The first day I arrived in Hongkong I was going to the Victoria Peak, and on the way, I saw hundreds of women sitting on the street and playing games, drinking, having food and dancing. I asked myself what they were doing and if it is maybe a protest or something. 99 % of the people were woman, and 80 % looked like they are from the Philippines. On the second day, I asked a local what it was and what I heard was not that good at all. All these women are housekeepers, mostly from the Philippines, for rich people from Hongkong. On Sunday, however, is the family day for these families and they want to spend the day with their kids, so the Housekeepers are not allowed to enter the house the entire Sunday until 10 pm. As prices in Hongkong are high and these women don’t have much money, they spend the day sitting on cartons under a bridge like homeless people. It looked at first that they have fun and spending a good time there but the image has two sides.
- Total countries I visited until now: 28
- Planes: 4
- Busses: 13
- Trains: 12
- Boots: 2
- Km running: 493
- Drinks: 44