As I stood high on the deck of the ship its elevated position allowed me a spectacular view of the city. Hong Kong, home to 7 and a half million people, and growing.
Hong Kong for me is hard to comprehend. With a population that is more than a million higher than that of my entire home country of Scotland to me it just seems incredible.
As the ship, Silver Shadow, pushed back and began to sail away from the port in Hong Kong and out towards the South China Sea my eyes were just fixated upon the endless sea of skyscrapers before me.
Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated areas in the entire world. The average land population density is around 6,700 people per square kilometre and, in the most densely populated district of Kowloon, is around 56,500 people per square kilometre.
Comparing this to the population density of Scotland, which is 67 people per square kilometre is mind blowing.
The sheer number of skyscrapers is both shocking and breathtaking. The buildings are packed like sardines into a tin. Some are flash offices, home to growing businesses and corporations whilst others are simply flats. Whole buildings packed with tiny flats one on top of each other.
I attempted to calculate how many flats were in many of the different buildings. Some seemed to have more than 200 separate flats inside, some of which I’m assured will be home to between 8 and 30 people.
Many of Hong Kongs apartment blocks will have what is known as cubicle apartments or micro-flats within them. This is when landlords subdivide larger flats into smaller ones in order to fit more people into them.
There are plenty of people in the city willing to live in such cramped conditions due to the high living costs in Hong Kong and the fact that it is difficult to make a good wage unless you are skilled in a trade. As a result, Hong Kong has one of the widest income disparities in the world. When I learn this it brings my mind back to the fact that local people were in orderly queues waiting outside flashy and expensive shops such as Cartier and Chanel as I walked the streets of Hong Kong on a Sunday evening.
To me it is shocking that people living in one of the wealthiest cities in the world should have to live in this manner and as I researched further into the living conditions of some of the cities poorest people I became more and more shocked. (‘From Mansions, To Cages, To Coffins – Hong Kong’s Rotten Property Ladder’ was particularly interesting)
My time in Hong Kong was all too brief and whilst I loved walking the bustling streets, bartering in small shops and picking up some bargains, the thought of people living in such poor conditions sours the memory for me. Perhaps next time I visit I’ll find more positives to outweigh this alarming situation.