Hong Kong Is Partying
The U.S. economy may still be in a slump, but Hong Kong is partying on a Wednesday night. My 17-year-old son, Linus, and I have just arrived after a 16-hour flight from New York. The Four Seasons, our hotel for the night, seems to be packed with mainland Chinese. I hear nothing but Mandarin: shaved-headed men chattering into cell phones, large groups sprawled in comfy arm chairs. I tell Linus that it's hard to imagine that 25 years ago, these people would have been wearing Mao suits.
Wide awake with jet lag, we wander up D'Aigular Street--bustling at 10 p.m.--to Lan Kwai Fong, a hip enclave of restaurants and pubs, where we find crowds of well-dressed young investment bankers spilling out of super-chic bars with bottles of beer in their hands. Smoke oozes from a hookah bar. We are bouncing from place to place, trying to figure out where to get a bite to eat. Within three seconds, it seems, we hear five competing pop songs blaring from adjacent clubs. Shabby tenement buildings hum with an army of air conditioners; overhead, there's a jungle of pipes and flyblown, peeling gray walls. "It's gonna be a good good night," a Chinese singer croons, arms clapping overhead.
Linus and I escape up a side street--I hear it's known as Rat Alley--and order some delicious Malaysian chicken curry noodles and Indonesian nasi goreng fried rice, which we eat sitting on stools at an open-air table. Warm air blows over us, from the row of giant wheezing air conditioners working overtime to keep the restaurants cool. I pull out the South China Morning Post, the local English-language broadsheet, which reports that the mainland Chinese and Hong Kong stock exchanges tumbled 5 percent today as a result of fear that China's banks are going to slow down their lending. But you would never know there are any economic troubles from the hyperkinetic scene among the young movers and shakers here.
* Dinda's Dispatches from Malaysia: "Sexual Politics, Malaysia Style," Penang's Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Obama-mania, bargaining at markets, and an interview with Anwar Ibrahim
* China for Sale (CNT, October 2006)
* Hong Kong Reloaded(CNT, October 2005)
* Dispatches: On the road