Thursday, March 20, 2008

Robert's Tale of Two Cities

Fellow blogger, Robert Werner, has written a terrific piece about the difference between Vancouver and Honolulu.

It's an eye-opener and I urge you to give it a read:


Anonymous said...

I recently traveled to Hong Kong with a friend. We had a similar experience to Robert Werner in that our travel around HK was free of being hassled by street people. Hong Kong certainly has a homeless population that, like Vancouver, is made up in part of drug addicts and alcoholics. In fact, our only experience being hassled on the streets (and we walked around the city (Kowloon, Central, Causeway Bay) extensively) was from South Asian men trying to tempt us to go to a particular tailors to have a "stylish suit" made to order.

After returning home, out of curiosity, I looked on the internet for information about the homeless situation in HK, and came across a series of YouTube videos from the Pearl Report HK that I found interesting.

It talks about neighbourhoods that take care of the homeless living in their area by providing them with food in exchange for doing odd jobs. The series also talks about the Homeless World Cup, which I had not heard about before and which I see as something very positive for these people.

We found the people in HK, contrary to what I was told to expect, to be very polite and respectful of the rules of order that make living together a civilized affair -- far more polite and civilized than Vancouver with it's relatively small population compared to HK's approximately 7 million residents.

We also saw evidence of people willing to do work that few would consider in Vancouver. An older woman with Vim cleaning the railings along the Avenue of Stars at the Harbour in TST and a man in a suit jacket on his hands and knees cleaning the brass around an elevator in an upscale hotel for example. There seems to be no fear of working hard in a job with no prestige. An interesting contrast with Vancouver.

I am also aware, however, that when trying to understand another culture, like a fun house mirror, you’re definitely getting an image, but it’s usually so distorted you can’t really trust it. So who knows what we were really seeing and if our assumptions about the culture were correct, but we were impressed and would happily return. They also have, by the way, a stellar transportation system -- various levels of buses, the MTR, and an underground walkway system and lots and lots of taxis.


David in North Burnaby BC said...

"They also have, by the way, a stellar transportation system -- various levels of buses, the MTR, and an underground walkway system and lots and lots of taxis."

Yes, and it makes one wonder why our counterpart here is so pathetic, doesn't it?
Like the private minibuses for example. That sort of thing is considered the beginning of the end of civilization in these parts, where its a great way to move people without massive expenditures of public $.
Planners here are too hidebound. Time to import some new attitudes and approaches.