Götterdämmerung – A Guide to Hong Kong’s Tycoons

They own your supermarket chains, your offices, your apartments. They drive you to work on their streets through their tunnels, serve you their food for lunch, fly you in and out, make sure your stove is hot and your air con is cold.

Hong Kong’s famous tycoons make billions of dollars a year in every niche in the world’s freest economy. Free in this case means free from regulation, but that does not mean free market.
Nowhere else in the world are so many areas of the economy up for grabs. The public transportation system is private, so are most of the tunnels, bridges and highways. Businesses are lowly regulated and the only relevant tax heard of is a 16% income tax.

In a market in which entry is legally so easy, how are the tycoons able to accumulate so much wealth and keep their positions? Is it endemic to a free market that few rule? Or are there other forces at play?

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One Day Getaway – Of the Phoenix and Pink Dolphins

Less than 25% of Hong Kong’s landmass is developed, and 40% of the SAR are designated as Country Parks and Natural Reserves. This provides for quite a few getaways, which may take up to one day of your time. One of my favorite day trips is to cross Lantau on its south side. There is a lot to see, and plenty of opportunities to hang out or hike.

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Need a Long Weekend Getaway? – 桂林 Guilin and 陽朔 Yangshuo

Hong Kong can be stressful, busy and so full of skyscrapers, you barely see the sky anymore, not to speak of the stars. It will come to you as a surprise that a getaway to China brings you fresh air, small lovely towns and beautiful scenery beyond the polluted backyard of 廣東 Guangdong.

Our journey brings us through 廣州 Guangzhou to the small town of 陽朔 Yangshuo from where we go hiking and relax. We will see 興評 Xingping, near where the picture for the 20 Yuen bank note was taken from and the 龍勝 Longsheng Rice Terraces. We go back through Guilin and Guangzhou to Hong Kong.

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Public Drinking

Hong Kong only collects import tariffs on four kinds of products: Tobacco, hydrocarbon oil, ethyl alcohol and liquor. Since 2008 there is no more tariff on wine and beer. In addition, Hong Kong has some of the most liberal laws concerning the sale of alcohol in the world. The legal drinking age is 18, however, there is no legal obligation on retailers to refuse to sell liquor to a person on the grounds of age.
That is because the drinking age only applies to places that have to be licensed, for instance bars or clubs. It is perfectly legal in Hong Kong for a minor to walk into a 7eleven and buy as much alcohol as they want and drink it in a place that does not need a liquor license.
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Mong Kok Streetfood Jaunt

Many say 旺角 Mong Kok is where Hong Kong shows itself from its purest side. Pronounced ‘Wong Gok’, it means ‘prosperous point’ or ‘corner’ and it truly lives up to that name. It is definitely one of the most crowded places on the planet, and with about 130,000 inhabitants per square kilometer maybe even the most densely populated. It has some of the most exciting malls and markets of Hong Kong, has the best restaurants and with red minibuses (such as the Midnight Deathwish Ride) going to any place on the territories it marks the unofficial transportation hub of the city.
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農曆新年 Chinese New Year Fireworks 2012 as seen from 灣仔 Wan Chai

On the second day of the Lunar New Year (Jan 24, 2012) Hong Kong celebrates with a massive display of fireworks. The fireworks, according to Chinese mythology, are supposed to scare away the evil 年獸 Nian creature (literal translation: Year Beast).
The Hong Kong fireworks are said to be the most expensive in the world in the past 12 months and at least partly sponsored by the 中國共產黨 Communist Party of China.
However, I couldn’t find any sources for this, and sponsoring also seems quite useless if noone knows about it.

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The Best Bus Lines

Hong Kong does not have the best climate in the world, we know that. Either it’s too hot or too cold and maybe raining at the same time.
I found the public buses to be the best way to explore Hong Kong beyond the standard tourist sites.
They are cheap, air-conditioned, have a roof top, run frequently and all over the islands. Most of these buses are double-deckers too, so make sure to enter at the first station to get the good view.

This is my list of my favorite bus lines through Hong Kong. I will regularly update it, so do come back! Also, feel free to suggest your own routes!
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