Thursday, January 9, 2014

We don't have this in Europe, part I.

Some of my observations about what's in HK and whats unseen in Europe. In Central Europe. In Czech Republic, I mean.

Streets with a shopping theme

If you go shopping in Hong Kong or simply just walk through Mong Kok, you'll notice (assuming you can see something at all in that sea of people) that similar shops tend to appear in packs. There is Computer Centre, a whole building full of small shops with electronics, there is Sports Shoes Street and lots of other places. This allows the customer to see the offers of all the merchants and decide for the best option on the spot. Compared to Europe (or most other places), this can save a lot of time and (mental) effort. On the other hand, the shops have less space to maneuver their prices because the level of competition is driven way higher.

I was wondering how these same-goods neighbourhoods were first created. A local friend told me that it's often the owner of the shopping mall or area who sets the theme for the shops. But what about the streets, such as on the picture above? I'm sure that must have grown organically...

Leaking buildings

To be fair, there is a lot more rain in Hong Kong than in Europe and no one would expect a typhoon to be very nice to buildings. But the truth is that buildings do leak and sometimes they are very happy to make a puddle right in the middle of your bed. Makes me appreciate the solid better insulation work done in Europe.

The government has a good PR guy

Besides ordinary commercial offerings, MTR stations walls, buses and trains are decorated with posters telling you not to buy more food than you eat, to avoid throwing food away. To check your windows regularly and not to try to fix them on your own for safety reasons. That you shouldn't abuse public housing if you can afford your own accommodation. I also learned about minimal wage regulations from one of those posters. In general, the government is communicating with the people way more than I'm used to and communication is always good.

Hong Kong is a free economy, more free than many European countries and that's why I was surprised to see regulatory bodies that I haven't encountered at home. In Czech, if your internet connection is slow, you're simply out of luck and complaining that you bought a 30Mbps plan but are getting 3 Mbps is no use, nothing is guaranteed. In Hong Kong, though, there's a government office that makes ISPs fulfill their promises.

And did I mention that people in HK enjoy one of the fastest internet services in the world? My apartment has a 100Mbps link and many already have an optical fiber with 1Gbps. Of course, this is made possible by the extreme population density - an ISP won't mind building a cable connection to a place with hundreds of potential customers and the same argument applies to mobile internet as well (LTE with about 100Mbps is quite commonplace now).

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