As well as all the obvious reasons to love our glorious city, here are a few added extras...
We all know that Hong Kong rocks a unique double decker tram and has the world’s ‘longest outdoor covered escalator system’ (how many exist, honestly?) But there are plenty of more extraordinary reasons to love our SAR. Here are 10 of them. By Anna Cummins and Kaitlin McPhee
SEE ALSO: 200 reasons to love Hong Kong
1 We live forever (almost)
It’s unlikely to be something wonderful in the water, but – whatever the reason is – Hongkongers have longevity. HK men live the longest in the world, and our women the second longest, with an average life expectancy of 81.2 and 86.7 years respectively – our dear old po po are pipped only by Japanese women, who live to 86.8 years on average. Our expected lifespan has seen an impressive gain of eight years since the 1980s. Of course, that doesn’t negate the fact that one in three of our elderly population lives in poverty or the worrying trend that, by 2050, 40 percent of our population will be over 65. But, take gratification in the fact that we might all be around long enough to cross the harbour on hoverboards one day.
2 We have the world's best McDonald's
It’s official. Burger fans (and those who felt the only thing previously missing from their McDonald’s experience was a 19-ingredient salad bar featuring quinoa) can now rejoice. We officially have the best McDonald’s in the world. The first McDonald’s Next restaurant opened its doors in Admiralty on December 9 last year, attracting global media attention and marking a ‘milestone in McDonald’s evolution’, according to the company itself. The new restaurant, if you haven’t already been, has digital touch-screen kiosks for placing orders and allows customers to build the gourmet burger of their dreams, resplendent with as many toppings as desired. Yes, the food is fairly overpriced and generally underwhelming. But, when making comparisons, do remember this is the same company that’s just launched the McChoco Potato in Japan. Yes – that’s French fries covered in chocolate sauce. We’re being treated exceptionally well by comparison. This ‘next generation’ edition of the fast-food franchise also offers table service after 6pm, air charging docks for your mobile phone and a tastefully lit, minimalist design – creating an ambience that’s less fries and fluoro, more falafel and filaments. The future of fast food? That’s, apparently, for to us to decide.
3 We have a fireworks wizard
Hong Kong is, naturally, renowned for epic fireworks productions on New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year and National Day – when fleets and barges launch pyrotechnics that illuminate the sky over Victoria Harbour. It’s a perfect spectacle – as long as you’re there 12 hours early to grab a spot in advance, of course. The man behind all this magic? Our very own fireworks wizard, Wilson Mao! His company, Pyro Magic, is a third generation family business that’s designed and staged every fireworks show in HK since 1997. He learned the tricks of the trade while working at Disneyland, seeing how they timed the fireworks with music and lights. “Fireworks are the lyrics of a fireworks show,” he told us when we interviewed him in 2010. “For example, a higher note usually is a big cue and I’ll shoot more fireworks. They could be different colours, they could be different layers, with some shot to 150m and others to 300m, or they could be a loud, salute-type of firework. It’s really based on the style of the song and the theme of the show.” pyromagic.com.hk.
As a culture, we’re just too damn cool to bother dealing with the number four and his deathly habits. Four – what is it good for? Absolutely nothing.
5 HK: King among vertical jungles
Take a glance up the next time you have a stroll. Even right in the centre of most other cities you’d be looking at rolling clouds, open skies, perhaps a bird meandering through its vertiginous abyss. In Hong Kong? Not so. Here you’ll be looking up at washing lines, onto billboards, into family homes, gazing through storefront displays and spotting construction workers. In other words, you’ll see pretty much anything that you’d see down at street level in another more horizontal (and therefore vastly less interesting) town. With our penchant for living on top of each other, it comes as no surprise to anyone that HK has the more skyscrapers than any other city in the world. We’re only marginally challenged in our lofty prowess by the Big Apple itself, New York, which with 247 has made a semi commendable attempt at rivalling our tall title. The third highest-rising city on the planet? That’s Dubai, which has less than half as many skyscrapers as us, at 155. Try to keep up guys!
6 ...And our skyscrapers are multifunctional
If you thought our tall buildings were just there to look cool and keep a plenitude of people and stuff stacked inside them then, well, you’d be right. But Central Plaza is our favourite of them all – if only because the set of four lights sitting at the base of its elegant spire also represent the largest clock in the city. These four lights change their colour or pattern at fifteen minute intervals throughout the day, and the configurations indicate the time. Time signals are synchronised daily by the Hong Kong Observatory and sent directly to the tower. Check outbit.ly/CentralPlazaClock for a simple guide to interpreting the lights. Never be late again... in Wan Chai at least.
7 It's officially never, ever been cold here
You may well be reading this claim with a sceptically raised eyebrow, wrapped up in a puffa jacket and looking like a char siu bao, blasting a fan heater at every unfortunate, uncovered extremity. However, since records began over 130 years ago, the lowest ever recorded temperature in Hong Kong is zero degrees Celsius. That terrifyingly low digit was recorded on January 18, 1893. So, in other words, it’s not ever been cold enough outside to prevent your ice cream melting. The other possibility about that day, however, is that someone just left the AC on really low by accident.
SEE ALSO: Hong Kong's air con abuse
8 We actually have our own Noah's Ark
There’s so much we could say about this place. We’re not really sure we need to, though. It’s glorious. It’s batshit. It’s our own ‘full size replica’ of Noah’s Ark. (Still not sure where they got the floor plans from for reference, but there you go). The evangelical Christian theme park, situated on scenic Ma Wan Island, comes complete with the animals marching two by two and a 4D shaking floor for maximum ‘Biblical destruction’-themed fun. 33 Pak Yan Rd, Ma Wan, 3411 8888; noahsark.com.hk.
9 We're a tiny microcosm of one huge country
While Cantonese is, of course, prevalent as a mother tongue (for around 90 percent of us), a large survey conducted last year by the Social Sciences Research Centre at The University of Hong Kong indicates that almost six percent of us can also speak Chiu Chow, over four percent speak Fukien, 6.8 percent speak Hakka, 2.3 percent Shanghainese, 1.6 percent Sze Yup, with 5.6 percent speaking ‘other’ Chinese dialects. Chun Yeung Street in North Point, for example, is well-known for being the centre of an established Fujianese community, who run many stores along the street. If you keep your ears peeled, you’ll hear the distinctive tones of the Fujianese dialect rising and falling amid the noises of the wet market and the tram. February 21 is Unesco’s International Mother Language Day. Get involved! bit.ly/UNMotherLanguageDay
10 Our sports fans are delightfully inventive
You can rely on a series of tension-fuelled football clashes to ultimately wind up with all the actual sport being overshadowed. The Chinese national anthem, which also belongs to Hong Kong, was booed by local fans at several football fixtures throughout 2015 – something that did not go unnoticed by officials on both sides of the border. Fifa fined the HKFA for breaching its regulations, after Hong Kong fans booed The March of the Volunteers during the opening of a World Cup qualifying match back in October. After being banned from booing at the next leg of the tie, local fans took matters into their own hands, turning up with a bank of pre-printed banners saying (among a few other things), ‘Boo’. Photographs of the crimson-clad crowd and its decidedly creative form of chanting had spread throughout the world within days.
SEE ALSO: 200 reasons to love Hong Kong