Greetings, fellow Chazen students!
I’m writing this from the bus as we’re on our way to see the Giant Buddha—one of the largest in the world, we’re told– and eat lunch at a monastery. No surprise this exists in Hong Kong if you’ve seen the size of the skyscrapers here. It seems like the city is big on building large and building high. That has made for some great views so far.
Our days have been jam-packed with meetings at real estate companies. We kicked off our stay in Hong Kong with a trip to Vanke. We learned about recent trends in property prices, which had been rising for years until the government introduced stamp duties to cool the market. The developer is expecting prices to decline further as a result of such measures.
I was surprised to learn that bringing a building to market in Hong Kong is quite the complicated process. Luxury redevelopments like the Gramercy are rare. Private equity firm Phoenix Property Investors told us the reason: When you redo a building here, you have to buy out 80% to 90% of individual condo owners. When the property has hundreds of different owners, this can take a while.
Overall, Hong Kong feels pretty Westernized. The nightlife is similar to New York, and the malls are filled with luxury retailers ranging from Alexander McQueen to Tom Ford. We’re told the shoppers are mainly wealthy tourists from mainland China. (Whatever the case may be, the target demographic is definitely not CBS students. I spent my money on fried fish balls, octopus and bubble tea at Ladies Market.)
UPDATE: The Buddha was pretty awesome. We climbed up several flights of stairs to get there. The food at the monastery–which included a sweet bean curd, lotus root and some type of amazing fried tofu dish–was the best I’ve had so far.
Onward to Beijing, where I’m sure our cultural experience will be largely different!
-Anjali Athavaley, ‘14