Thursday, October 30, 2014

One month and two days on since the Umbrella Movement came into being

There's a very thin line between 
shopping and protest areas in Mongkok

People are still going to Ocean Park even if
they need to go to a different place from Admiralty
to get on the bus that takes them there

I spent some time in Admiralty earlier today -- the first time I had done so this week.  Because of the nature of my job, the hours I spend on it and where I do it, I spend the bulk of my week days in those parts of Hong Kong where the ongoing protests are out of sight, and fairly easily out of mind too.

Put another way: people outside of Hong Kong may get the impression that all of Hong Kong is in turmoil (or at least ferment) but for huge swathes of the territory and its people, life looks to go on -- and not that visiby differently as it did before September 28.

Yes, certain roads have been blocked, tram services partially disrupted, numerous bus routes have been rerouted and the MTR is noticeably more crowded than usual.  But the MTR is still running (and pretty smoothly too), people are still taking buses to go to places like Ocean Park as well as more mundane destinations -- and making use of taxis, mini buses, private cars, etc. to get about too.  And when they get to the places they want to do, they're going about working and living and enjoying life in various ways!

On a related note: right next to the protest areas, shops and stores are open for business -- and while the numerous jewelry and luxury watch stores along the Mongkok section of Nathan Road and Causeway Bay section of Hennessy Road may complain about the Umbrella Movement ruining the business, the fact of the matter is that there had been a downturn in their business for several months now (due in no small part to Xi Jingping's anti-corruption campaign -- which, sadly, has yet to target 689 despite reports of his having taken secret payments from an Australian company).

With it being "business as usual" in much of the Big Lychee, there are some who may conclude that the Umbrella Movement hasn't actually had much of an impact on Hong Kong as a whole.  Yet I also know that I'm far from the only person out there who will never see an umbrella in the same way again, the number 689, the color yellow, the Hong Kong police and, actually, even Hong Kong itself, and its people.  

And even while I now see Queensway filled with traffic once again, in my mind's eye, I can easily (re)envision it as an "occupied" area on which tents were pitched and people strolled, and can easily imagine it being that way again -- in a way that I would never have been able to do just a little more than a month ago.

As I told a friend of mine who asked me a few weeks back if I had been changed by the Umbrella Movement: I don't think I have, but it sure has changed my perception of Hong Kong... and, actually, for the better too -- not least because it's opened my eyes and mind to possibilities and positives involving it that I never previously was able to envision. Hence my continuing to hope that some good will actually come out of all this, even if not necessarily tomorrow, next week or even next month.


HKP said...

The people have pedestrianized Gloucester road and the city didn't grind to a halt. Fantastic! That makes up for the chunk of Victoria Park lost to the Wanchai Bypass. I like to think of it as the beginning of a revolution against the urban planning department.

Ann, Chen Jie Xue 陈洁雪 said...

Is it still going on? The news here seem to have fizzle out.

nulle said...

typo: replace downtown with downturn.

YTSL said...

Hi HKP --

Good point! And it's been interesting and wonderful to read and hear many comments from various people re how Occupy's making them think quite a few parts of Hong Kong would benefit from becoming pedestrianized! :)

Hi Ann --

Yes, it is.

Hi nulle --