Singapore grips memory into recollections of Hong Kong

A scene of Hong Kong's street life in former days. Photo Gary Stokes

A scene of Hong Kong’s street life in former days. Photo Gary Stokes.

Reading about 1930’s Singapore in J.G. Farrell’s “The Singapore Grip” has got me thinking about a similarly bubbling metropolis built on trade and capital and no less colorful and gaudy: Hong Kong.

I visited Honk Kong in 2011, drawn by the obvious attractions but also having grown up hearing tales about the city. My father, after a few Gin & Tonics, has been known to reminisce at the dinner table about his time stationed outside the city as a young army dentist in the 1960’s.

Funnily enough, one of my grandmothers is Hong Kong-Chinese–an interesting but long story to explain that familial tie–from whom I also heard stories about this city, as well as being able to look through her photo album of a sepia-toned Hong Kong without the skyscrapers and neon lights.

One of my grandmother’s friends living in Hong Kong chaperoned me around the island, a fact one often doesn’t appreciate: beyond the towering city is a lush island of winding cliff-top roads, beaches and colonial buildings from days when the British sipped their cocktails in the muggy heat of  Hong Kong and Singapore and surveyed their Empire.