The Australian - Wish Magazine - - Editor's Letter -

funny thing hap­pened on the trip to Hong Kong to pro­duce this is­sue. I have vis­ited Hong Kong pos­si­bly more than any other city and feel that I know it well, but this trip was the first in a few years (apart from a 48-hour light­ning visit last year) and I no­ticed a change.

On our last day in Hong Kong, with my fi­nal in­ter­view in the bag, I de­cided to use the few hours be­fore our flight home to do some shop­ping. We were stay­ing at the Penin­sula Ho­tel on the Kowloon side, so to save time I opted to shop on Can­ton Road in­stead of head­ing over to Cen­tral. In the past few years, ev­ery ma­jor lux­ury brand has ex­panded its foot­print on Can­ton Road and built bou­tiques that are the size of some Aus­tralian depart­ment stores. Why travel to the other side of the city when ev­ery­thing — and more — was at my doorstep?

At cer­tain stores on Can­ton Road, namely Chanel, Prada and Louis Vuit­ton on this par­tic­u­lar day, you’ll find there is a queue just to get in the door. I don’t even like to line up for a ta­ble for break­fast at my lo­cal cafe so the idea of queue­ing to part with a sub­stan­tial sum of my hard-earned money is anath­ema to me.

I must have had an un­usally an­noyed look on my face as I was waved into the store I wanted to visit by a se­cu­rity guard, man­ag­ing to by­pass about 20 wait­ing people. In­side the store was busy but not ex­actly burst­ing, and af­ter a few min­utes I’d found the shoes I wanted. Then I had to bat­tle to get the at­ten­tion of a sales as­sis­tant. There were plenty of them in the store and they were eas­ily iden­ti­fi­able (they wear head­sets to com­mu­ni­cate with other staff), but I was damned if I could get one to find me this par­tic­u­lar shoe in a size 44. They would take note of my size, wan­der off and never re­turn. When I re­layed the story of this less than en­thu­si­as­tic ser­vice to a friend who works for a lux­ury brand in Hong Kong, he said, “you didn’t shop on Can­ton Road, did you? Those stores are re­ally just for the main­land Chi­nese, and they can eas­ily spend $HK1 mil­lion ($143,000) in a sin­gle sale so those sales as­sis­tants are not in­ter­ested in a pair of shoes.” But why was I al­lowed to jump the queue? “The queues are also only for main­lan­ders; even though they of­ten spend big, they cause havoc and pull apart dis­plays.”

That seems to sum up the re­la­tion­ship Hong Kongers have with their main­land Chi­nese cousins. They are driv­ing the econ­omy — about 40.8 mil­lion tourists from main­land China vis­ited last year — but they are viewed with de­ri­sion. Main­land tourists are an im­por­tant source of rev­enue for Hong Kong, but they are also seen as strain­ing the city’s re­sources and push­ing up prices of ev­ery­day items such as baby for­mula; the lo­cals rou­tinely com­plain about what they view as the un­re­fined so­cial habits of their main­land coun­ter­parts. And, more re­cently, there have been protests in Hong Kong af­ter city of­fi­cials said they thought the city could cope with more vis­i­tors and want as many as 100 mil­lion a year by 2030.

Change is a con­stant in Hong Kong and the city is al­ways go­ing through some form of re­de­vel­op­ment or an­other. And that’s what makes it such an in­cred­i­ble place to visit. Thanks to Qan­tas for help­ing us get there. We hope you en­joy the is­sue. David Meagher Edi­tor Fol­low me at @davidfmeagher on Twit­ter

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