Happy 2012, everyone! I just started my final semester at Cornell, which promises to be exciting. Before I delve into current events, I thought I would take my first post back to recap my winter break in south east Asia. I spent one week in Hong Kong and another in Singapore. Here are my conclusions:

  • Both Hong Kong and Singapore are beautiful. Their size and wealth are testaments to the power of freedom. Sixty years ago, they were shadows of the cities they are today: HK’s GDP per capita was something like 20% of the UK’s and Singapore was still a manufacturing economy. In a short period of time, they’ve grown to compete with the businesses and industries that Western cities have historically cornered. This has brought implants from all over the world to their shores. There must be hundreds and thousands of people for whom these cities have meant a new lease on life or a new opportunity to thrive. This is something you can see in the diversity of faces and neighborhoods that each city offers and it strikes me as more awe-inspiring than any boulevard, painting or building I’ve ever seen. I’m happy it lives.
  • Both cities are clean. Really clean. Everyone seems to take pride in their space, which makes even the poorest regions pleasant to walk around. I always teased one of my Singaporean friends for scrubbing her cleats after each golf practice. Now I wonder why she didn’t do it after every shot…
  • Singapore still has a long way to go before it could be considered fully developed. That is, I assumed it would be more dense. There are a lot of underdeveloped areas right near the city center. I think I’ll consider this an opportunity.

I hope everyone had a great holiday season.