Two Hong Kong trips seventeen years apart

My first visit to Hong Kong in the year 2000 had left quite an impression on me. I was there again last year. Visiting a country after seventeen years is practically like going to a new country. In the end, I was surprised as much by what had not changed as by what had.

Here are some memories from my first trip in 2000 contrasted with impressions from the one in 2017.

A different world

The trip in 2000 was a business trip1. In addition to paperwork the Hong Kong office had mailed me to help me clear immigration, they had sent the name and address of the hotel in Chinese. And I am glad they did because a printed copy of it had come in handy with the cab. This time I had everything on my smartphone but it wasn’t even needed - our driver spoke and understood English and knew how to get to the hotel.

Thinking back about all my travel anxiety in 2000, I am struck by how difficult it is now for me to even imagine that world without smartphones, Google Translate, online maps and Uber.

Public transport

Hong Kong’s metro had been quite a revelation. Back then, Delhi metro was still a pipe dream. Overcrowded DTC2 and Red Line3 buses stuttering through chaotic Delhi traffic had been my only experience with public transport. To see fast, efficient, air-conditioned public transport that was the Hong Kong metro, had felt like traveling into the future.

After all these years of having used metro in multiple cities across the world, Hong Kong metro still feels impressive for its speed and efficiency. I was delighted to know that their public transport card is still called the Octopus Card4. Even the announcement in Cantonese telling us to mind the gap hadn’t changed one bit. Although, they have now added announcements in Mandarin too.

March 13, 2018