Hong Kong seems to be a city that is constantly under construction. Downtown on the waterfront of Victoria Bay where the ferries cross to Kowloon and the outlying islands, there are massive skyscrapers going up, like huge metal erections on the skyline. But I am most amazed that no matter where you go, whether you are outside the ultra snazzy Dolce & Gabana shop in the heart of Central or in a grungy neighborhood, you are bound to find bamboo scaffolding everywhere, with workmen climbing all over it, with no safety equipment at all!
Perhaps I can only see things through my western eyes, but I’m really not sure why they are still allowed to use this sort of ‘equipment’ on construction sites, especially ones that are on the busy roads where people walk. Some might argue that they have used bamboo for thousands of years to build amazing architectural feats, and that’s fine. But 1,500 years ago they didn’t have skyscrapers, towers and mega bridges!
Bamboo is all over the city, and it apparently is not very safe. During the 8-level period of Typhoon Pabuk that hit this week, three men working on a bamboo scaffolding on a bridge fell into the water and drowned after the bamboo broke, and downtown a woman had head injuries after a huge section of bamboo scaffolding flew off of a building, hitting her and bending light poles. The other day while walking through downtown at lunch time, a group of workers were dismantling some bamboo, and simply dropping parts of it onto the ground below, even with masses of people walking around!
This really is a strange place to figure out. All countries seem to have very distinct personalities. Where I lived in Turkey was extremely Turkish. And without a doubt, Japan is extremely Japanese. But in contrast, sometimes it feels like Hong Kong has a sort of multiple personality disorder — part ultra modern and westernized, part old school British colony, and part traditional Chinese… the contrasts are really quite weird. I have no doubt that this contradictory nature of the city is something that will take time to get used to and understand!