The Hong Kong Of My Youth

by Dominic Ching Nam Wong

Hong Kong is the city where I grew up. I spent my first 17 years there and I would say that I had a happy childhood. It is true that Hong Kong is a prime example of Darwinist principles. Survival of the fittest. You see this everywhere: in schools, at work, and even in the local fast-food chains where hungry Hong Kongers fight for a seat. Growing up in such an environment, I dealt with a lot of pressure, just like anyone else. Let’s not even get into going to extra tutorial schools every day after school.

Dominic Ching Nam Wong in ~1993 in Hong Kong, with his grandfather

Though it has its flaws, it is a great city. Hong Kong gave me a beautiful childhood.

During my first 3 years, I lived in one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, with my grandparents while my parents had to work in a different part of town. My grandfather would take me to the local toy store and I would ask him for every single toy. The owner always gave me a piece of candy. Those were the days when Hong Kongers were friendly.

No matter where you live, cities change and so do the societies within them. Hong Kong’s social values have changed tremendously since I was young. Small businesses have vanished, replaced by corporations. Humanity gradually disappears and is replaced by skyscrapers. Commercialization is now considered normal and people believe in money. This is not the Hong Kong that I know

I miss the days when all my classmates would go to Kowloon City, across the Victoria Harbor, to play Internet games with the string of curry fish balls bought from the street vendor. I miss the days when my family and I went on bicycle rides along the Shing Mun River. My classmates no longer talk about that cutie from the all-girls school across the street anymore; they talk about who got a job at JP Morgan or graduated from law school.

By the way, I went to the same secondary school that Bruce Lee attended (La Salle College). Unlike me, Bruce Lee was kicked out in 10th grade for fighting and skipping classes.

It feels odd telling you Hong Kong is a great city while complaining about how it has lost its traditional values. Maybe it is because it’s my hometown. You simply can’t dislike the city that raised you, no matter how different it is from the way you remember it. It doesn’t matter how the city is going to change, my good impression of Hong Kong always stays in my heart.

There’s a Chinese saying, “The moon is brightest when viewed from your own house.” At the end of the day, I know that the night scene from my house’s rooftop is always the most beautiful in the world.

Dominic Ching Nam Wong, a Roadmonkey intern, graduated from UCLA in August with a BA in International Development Studies and in Spanish and Portuguese, intent on working for an adventurous California-based startup.



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