It has been a terrible week of awareness. When people say that change is the only constant, they probably do not have Hong Kong in mind. In Hong Kong, change isn’t merely a constant. It also represents a steep gradient.
There are two units currently undergoing renovation in my building and the drilling noise irritates me to the core. Everyday, without fail, the drilling starts at 9.30am and does not seem to stop until the sun sets. I frown and wonder what on earth requires so much drilling. How many walls does an apartment have? I lament over my poor musical talent, of which otherwise, I may have easily convert these noise pollution to music pleasant to my ears.
A few days later, I chanced upon an online property website where my landlord had not-so-subtly listed my place for sale. I made a mental (sad) note and prepared myself for the day when my landlord issues me my one-month notification and legally requests me to move out. I have been a good tenant, but I guess, it does not help much when it comes to a battle between capital appreciation and rental income.
Just another day, I scrambled out of my house after the drilling noise caused me a bad headache. I brought my black IBM laptop out, together with some money for the purchase of a coffee. “I pay my rent, but yet, I actually have to seek refuge in a cafe.” I was grumpy. I took a brisk walk to my favourite cafe, Caffe Habitu located on Queen’s Road East, which was barely 5 minutes away.
To my disappointment, what greeted me was no longer a cup of hot mocha and soothing music, but debris and half-naked men who were working hard on the renovation. A few months ago, I had arranged for a business meeting at Starbucks on the 4th level of Pacific Place, without realising that it had been closed down. Now, as it seemed, Caffe Habitu had suffered the same fate. The cafe was no longer in operation.
I made my way to Starbucks at the ground floor of Pacific Place, found a comfortable seat and began doing my work. Barely 5 minutes later, the familiar drilling noise haunted me. Part of Pacific Place was undergoing renovation. Damn. Isn’t there a place where it’s quiet and, for once, not changing?
Within the same week, I heard from my friends about the closure of some of the places that I used to frequent. Spuntini is closed (ugh, I haven’t got to try their famous roasted chicken). So is a herbal tea shop. I have two favourite bubble-tea shops in Hong Kong but one had went out of business while the other is slowly shutting down one outlet after another. The Fortress outlet (a store selling electronic products) near my place has been replaced by a Mercedes-Benz show room. What else? I begin to wonder.
Hong Kong has an impressive rate of turnover. My personal observation tells me that a business owner decides his/her fate within 3 months of initial operations. Shops open and close, faster than anyone can appreciate their presence. Is that a sign of giving up, a tough economy or the need to cope with new business trends?
This is how people live in Hong Kong. On the bright side, new shops welcome us every now and then. There are so much to explore and plenty of new things to keep boredom really far away from us. As for the downside, we do not seem to have much room to be sentimental and appreciative. As forward-looking as I can be, I hope this will not be the era where we constantly expect the new but brutally kick away the old.
About the authorSki Yeo