The greatest city on earth

杂志 - The greatest city on earth

2013-01-04

In the last 4 months I have travelled to over 25 destinations. It’s a bit extreme, but it is been a mixture of work and pleasure. I frequently say I should give up my house and simply move in to the BA lounge at Heathrow. I think I probably spend more time sleeping on airplanes than in my own bed afterall.

All this travel has given me an interesting perspective on the world. The wonderment of each place: from the romanticism of India to the hedonism of Las Vegas to the soulful and almost spiritual respite of Antibes and Provence. There is very definitely something about the light in France that is very healing.

At some point at high altitude above the earth recently, I wondered what I would consider the greatest city on earth. This sent my brain into overdrive. What would the perimeters and criteria of such a decision be based upon? How would these be measured? I haven’t been everywhere, so how could I judge? How could a single person have an unbiased position?

Well, folks, the simple answer is, there is no scientific model for testing this in an unbiased way. My opinions are polluted with experiences of great hotels and lesser hotels; wonderful smiling people and vacant staff; incredible projects and dire opportunities that we have chosen to walk away from. So here it is, my totally biased, unscientific response to what is the greatest city, not on earth, but that I have travelled to…

And the winner is, hands down, Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Skyline Restitch Dec 2007
I first went to Hong Kong about 6 years ago and I instantly fell in love with the place. It is a city of complete contradiction. It is big, but it is efficient. It is diverse and yet integrated. It is dirty and yet somehow feels clean. It is old and new. It is energetic, lively and full of adventurous promise, yet civilised and beaming with self-awareness. It is a city of people who know what they want , who work hard, who play hard and ultimately are not actually defined by the city itself. Hong Kong is a city defined by it’s residents.

Having lived in great cities like New York and London, I have noticed a commonality. In each place, the people are defined by the city they live in, more than just their language. New Yorkers are proudly defined by the bricks and mortar and pace of life in their city. Londoners are defined by their pubs and art & social culture; Parisienne’s are defined by their political views and café society. But Hong Kong is an eclectic mix of people. There is no such thing as a typical Hong Konger. Sure, there are some stereotypical ex-pats, but they are universal, not a HK phenomenon. When I think ex-pats, I think Dubai.

There is something magical about the little island off mainland China. It has pulse. It is a living organism unto it’s own and we are merely hanging on for the ride.

Development continues apace. There are cranes everywhere and the noise of construction can sometimes become overwhelming as it echoes through the mega – structures. But it is alive with possibility.

So if I was going to send anyone on a voyage of discovery, I’d buy them a plane ticket non-stop direct to Hong Kong, the capital of the world in my mind. 

Image: David Illif


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