October 1-- It is National Day in Hong Kong. Yay. My friends in Hong Kong and I are reaping the benefit of this Mainland Chinese holiday, which marks the founding day of the People's Republic of China. There's the long weekend (read vacation and R&R). There are the fireworks spectacular on October 1, and there is yet another excuse to hit the shopping malls and eat, drink and be merry with friends and family.
National Day also coincides with the Mid Autumn Moon Festival, a lucky thing for Hong Kongers since they can choose to focus more on the Mid Autumn festivities rather than sending each other "Happy National Day Greetings."
After all it is risqué to wish someone a Happy National Day unless you're pretty sure where they stand politically. The safest bet is to buy someone a box of moon cakes (preferably Haagen-Dazs or from an upscale Hong Kong bakery and avoid the Mainland Chinese sort), rather than wishing someone "Happy October 1."
The long holiday weekend gets me thinking that Hong Kong continues with an internal struggle and tug of war when it comes to how they regard the Mainland Chinese. On one hand Hong Kongers love the fact that the Mainlanders are spending like crazy (hey it's good for the economy), on the other hand they don't want them here and view them as a nuisance.
With a week off for the National Day holiday, the Mainland Chinese are flooding Hong Kong. On one hand my Hong Kong friends are as happy as clams about this. Mega spending by the Mainland Chinese means that Hong Kong's economic engine can keep purring. And keep in mind that the Chinese who come to Hong Kong are snapping up the brand name hang bags, clothing and cosmetics. They are the ones filling up their empty luggage with the expensive loot. This is a win-win for Hong Kong and Mainland China.
And yet I can see it from my Hong Kong friends' vantage. Hong Kong is geographically tiny and most people here are already starved for space. More Mainlanders means more pedestrian traffic jams, jostling, and more conversations in Mandarin Chinese filling the air. And it's true --some of the Mainland Chinese have a tendency to talk at a high decibel.
While there are many annoyances related to and visitors, there is a silver lining and opportunities in the transformation of Hong Kong too.
Hong Kongers need to find a way to make lemonade out of lemons. The first step would be to celebrate National Day and to welcome the visitors coming from the border with open arms.
After all more visitors, more spending and more business is a good thing for Hong Kong. Let's pop open the champagne and enjoy the fireworks show. Happy Mid Autumn Moon Festival and National Day.
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