Downtown Hong Kong
Pressed against the northern face of Victoria Peak and down the slope towards the harbor lies the living heart of Hong Kong and the showcase to its corporate glory. Downtown is where most of Hong Kong’s corporations and many of their employees make their home. Central District is the center of industry in Hong Kong, a narrow but crowded band of skyscrapers stretching all along the western Victoria Harbor coastline on Hong Kong Island, enveloping even the old Western District and Kennedy Town.
At night, the infamous skyline lights up as colorfully illuminated ferries shuttle past the fantastically strange corporate towers, their bizarre forms guided by the wisdom of feng shui geomancers. During the day, the buildings do silent battle over the mystical energies that course through Hong Kong, trying to ensure that the qi is ideal for their endeavors while focusing bad qi on their competitors. The organically-curved Evo Tower sits just before the water, lacking any flat surfaces that might impede the flow of energy traveling down from Victoria Peak to the sea. The Wellington Building, home of the international finance conglomerate Hildebrandt-Kleinfort-Bernal, just finished an expensive refinishing to add mirrored surfaces to the outside of their skyscraper to reflect back the “poison arrows” of bad qi from the sharp edges of the nearby Saeder-Krupp SwissBank headquarters. News headlines featuring incidents of uncontrolled magic or the scandalous activities of out-of-control spirits are common in the Central District, a side effect of all the mystical tinkering.
If you hop a ride on the Splendid Dragon Path, a massive indoor escalator system so big it includes its own shops and apartments, it will take you up the slope of Victoria Peak to the Mid-Levels. This is where up-and-coming young corporate professionals live, in crowded but very comfortable mountainside arcologies and enclaves. A good way to determine an individual resident’s importance is to see their view of Victoria Harbor: the better the view is, the more status the person claims. Most of the housing complexes on the Mid-Levels are owned by a single corporation, and rivalry between different corporate complexes is common, manifesting in everything from sporting events to fashion sense. Their doctrinaire fashion sense is so predictable that you can pick out the Renraku accountant traveling home by his Europa blazer or the Wuxing executive by her KoGo skirt.
Looking down on the packed Mid-Level enclaves are the massive estates of Victoria Peak, hugging the upper reaches of the mountain from which the district takes its name. From the air, the colonial mansions and their cerulean swimming pools sparkle from a forested hillside embrace that only the absurdly wealthy can afford. Wu Lung-Wei, Wuxing CEO, has his home here as does the Hong Kong action sim hero Johnny Fong. I hear the views of the Central skyline and the harbor are breathtaking, but don’t count on seeing them unless you are a very, very important person.
As the skyscrapers thin out and are replaced by glimmering boutiques, you know you’ve entered Wanchai-Causeway. Due east of the Central District, Wanchai-Causeway is swanky, artsy, intellectual and downright expensive. High heels clatter out of A Whole New You clinics and KoGo boutiques while the setting sun is greeted with the thumping music of fancy nightclubs. Every day brings another dedication gala at harborside museums and galleries, each one trumping up its host more than the art.
Toward the east end of this district, the old open-air markets and housing tenements of “Little Shanghai” North Point have been leveled and replaced with expensive apartment towers. On the southern edge, tucked into mountainside valleys, is the red-light district of Happy Valley. Here, overworked Hongkongers can blow off steam at the combat biker arena, gamble the night away at loud and colorful digital mah-jongg parlors, or work off the stress with one (or more) of the talented ladies at a nearby “hostess club.”