FROM A LITERARY perspective, the predominant canon of Western publications have tended to portray China as this sort of exotic paradise to be conquered or plundered by the valiant explorer. And in many ways that has come true, such as in business. And when it comes to a business perspective, Hong Kong has emerged in its own right as one of the centres of the world, marketing itself as ‘Asia’s world city’ and standing beside New York and London in this respect.
But in this respect, it’s high time that the mainstream artists caught up with the businesspeople – Hong Kong is telling the world loud and clear that it is not to be seen as far flung from anything. Sure, it may not have the diverse ethnic makeup of its worthy socioeconomic competitor Singapore, but you are certain to find gems from every corner of the world converging here.
That is certainly the impression you’ll get in a day in the upper reaches of Sheung Wan, just west of the central business district. Georgraphically, it’s not far from Lan Kwai Fong, but the microcosm of globalisation here takes upon a much different vibe from the debauchery for more notorious places. The first joint serves burritos – but even more than that is the vibe of live music in both Spanish and English. Across the road, a more ritzy-looking joint, with French staff, is serving up gourmet cheese, cold cuts and daiquiris.
And what would a place like this be without the now-famed quaint cafe? Once a hallmark of the young generation of people sticking it up to solemn corporate lifestyles, the cafe template has become a hallmark of every global city. But this one has a unique Hong Kong stamp to it with a selection of teas flown in from the mainland, Taiwan and Japan. And of course, the art collection books on the coffee table, which the majority of patrons would see as little more than a source of comedy and absurdity to spark up a conversation. The art is a mix of local and imported, of course. Just like the street itself.
Featured locations: Upper Station Street, Sheung Wan