Friday, June 18, 2010

Hong Kong! It's good to be in Hong Kong again. The first time I visited was about two years ago, and I saw it through very different eyes then. I remember feeling overwhelmed by the crowds, street life, and density of building. At this point, it feels very comfortable.

I am staying in the
Chungking Mansions, a famous "building" that's the closest structure to the now destroyed Kowloon Walled City (which you can read more about here). The Mansions consists of 5 separate blocks, some 17 stories tall, with a multitude of shops, guest houses, hotels and residences inside. With the majority of its residents now from outside of China, it's like a microcosm of Asia within one building. Take the last four cities I've visited and put them in one massive building, complete with people hawking cheap tailored suits, fake id's, drugs, and trying to pull you into restaurants deep within. It's a great place to stay, honestly, though maybe my description isn't very convincing. It's just very Hong Kong, to put it simply. Love it or hate it.

It's a very nice change from Dhaka, as well. The public transportation in Hong Kong is outstanding, whereas in Dhaka it is non-existent. I very much prefer taking a busy metro versus sitting in traffic jams of rickshaws in Dhaka (this probably goes without saying). As far as extreme population density goes, these two cities are worlds apart.

What is most lacking in Dhaka is the infrastructure to support such a population, and I'm not just talking about transportation. Consistent power outages throughout the day made it more than obvious that all systems are overburdened, from the electrical grid to waste management. There is a surprising amount of building taking place in Dhaka, but it seems focused on housing, while the streets continue to crumble. Bangladesh is a very recent country, just recovering from genocide, natural distasters aplenty, and a war for independence. But its people are very proud and perhaps it is only a matter of time (and stability) before the city becomes what its inhabitants hope to make it. I can only assume that Dhaka will be at the forefront of the countries development, so maybe one day Ill return and it will be an entirely different story. Time will tell.

For now, Im happy in Hong Kong, but grateful for my time in Bangladesh.

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