22 August 2019
A tourist takes a video of Hong Kong island from the Star ferry. There are very few Asian cities that have more to offer than Hong Kong. Photo: Bloomberg
A tourist takes a video of Hong Kong island from the Star ferry. There are very few Asian cities that have more to offer than Hong Kong. Photo: Bloomberg

Why I like Hong Kong more than any other Asian city

In the past month, I have stopped by a different Asian city every week.

My freelance work offers the luxury of traveling while working but that means I am constantly trying to race against time and writing wherever I have internet connection.

I keep pondering one question: is there any one of those cities that has more than Hong Kong has to offer?

A month ago, I was in Beijing, a city of which I have a fond memory. Not any more, I suppose partly because of the smog, but more importantly the traffic jam.

It was not difficult to catch a cab, but almost everywhere I went, I was stuck. How can I live in a city that asks its residents to take a week off to give way to an international event such as the APEC summit?

After Beijing, I went to Bangkok, a place to relax.

Traffic has always been a big problem there, but it is not a big deal given it has some of the best and most affordable hotels and massage facilities which you can only find in paradise.

I would visit Bangkok when there is no political unrest but I would probably spend a week, not a month, let alone a year, there. There’s more to life than living in paradise.

After Bangkok, I went to Tokyo, a place many Hong Kong women call home. Just like many Hongkongers, I visit Tokyo more than Beijing for shopping and food and increasingly for hiking.

Increasingly, more people are looking to have a home in Japan because a 200 square foot subdivided flat in Tokyo costs less than half a million Hong Kong dollars, or about half the price of a parking lot in Hong Kong.

The falling yen after quantitative easing offers an extra incentive of a net rental yield of 5 percent (after deducting a 5 percent management fee), so does the rosy outlook in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

I figured many friends would snap up a Tokyo holiday home without a second thought because it offers better value than a Country Garden apartment in southern China.

My last stop was Singapore, a dream place for many.  A 1,000 square foot public housing unit costs the equivalent of HK$2 million and you can use your provident fund as down payment.

If Hong Kong can offer this deal, I see no reason why students would live in tents in the streets.

I like Singapore but not its weather. The moment I stepped out of Changi airport, I could smell ash from an Indonesian volcano, but luckily, frequent rain washed the smell away.

I often thought Singapore was a mini Hong Kong, except everything including democracy is planned by the government.

Beijing, Bangkok, Tokyo and Singapore have a unique character, but I still could not call them home.

After a long trip, there is nothing like living in Hong Kong for its lovely autumn, its noisy dim sum restaurants, and for the students who are not perfect but who dare to do things we did not.

Now how about Taipei, which has everything Hong Kong has, plus democracy, bigger space and a standard of living that is 30 per cent cheaper?

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EJ Insight writer

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