By Hans Ebert


It takes a lot to laugh, it takes a train to cry, and for those who have always thought of Hong Kong as home, it’s a huge decision to turn your back on it and move with no regrets. And it’s happening more and more often as there suddenly seems to be a lack of business opportunities whereas that Can Do spirit has been replaced by No Can Do, naive politicians trying to make up for lost time with fat cat enablers with their own agendas funding many to fight their battles.

Hong Kong might not be finished, but it’s doing a damn good job of shooting itself in the foot with a machete. Once “Asia’s World City”, Hong Kong today is an angry, frustrated, and kinda stupid melting pot of a murder of crows flapping around asking for independence armed with strong anti-Mainland China sentiments. When the British handed Hong Kong over to China and the city became part of the motherland despite the “One Country, Two Systems” mantra, didn’t the alarm bells go off?


So, over the years, just like before the run up to 1997, there’s been a steady exodus- a long march that has quickened in the last few months with many tired of seeing the lack of a strong middle class, but instead, still having to stomach the huge chasm between the Haves and the Have Nots, and an unsettling undercurrent of uncertainty. Who needs it?


So when in Melbourne recently, it was good to see my old friend Mr Karki, below with some friends visiting him from Hong Kong, having made the very big decision to leave the city with his wife, and in less than a year, owns his own restaurant- Oscar’s Table in Docklands- a very popular Spanish restaurant plus the couple, originally from Nepal, owning their own house- and not one of those Hong Kong shoeboxes that are called apartments and sold for millions.


In Melbourne, Karki leads a completely different lifestyle. It’s very different to the days when he would run between the extremely popular Guru, now renamed Himalaya, in Lower Elgin Street, and the somewhat confusing WTF tapas restaurant like a mother hen ensuring all the regular and new customers were satisfied. Both venues certainly miss their original owner as both have had a quality meltdown.


Without the personality and commitment of Karki, they’re not the same- the cuisine and the service. But these days, this is usually par for the course for many restaurants that are not part of big restaurant groups with the financial backing, or those usual gweilo suspects who, fall from grace, but always manage to reel in another sucker until they’re finally seen for the shysters that they are and are tossed out again.


As for Melbourne, whether good or bad, Melbourne forces you to slow down. It’s part of the personality of a very international city that’s a strange mélange of old school creatures of habit, very good restaurants like The Smith that attracts a younger and stylish demographic, a gambling culture, especially when it comes to horse racing, and with Crown Casino being a magnet for those drawn to baccarat tables and the pokies, 24 hours a day, flim flam men with their own ponzie schemes, and a music market trying to find its feet. Whether they ever will is debatable- frustrating when one hears the extremely good music talent, but without much thought given by the artists to marketing themselves.

Having said this, things just might be changing. More and more, that Hong Kong Can Do spirit along with many from the city with the entrepreneurial skills to seize the day and the opportunities are making their way to Melbourne. It won’t be long before the city becomes The New Hong Kong. Giving Hong Kong the finger these days is trending.