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Comparing Egypt and Hong Kong

By Kristin Trapp

Intro: photo

            After traveling the world I have come to realize that as different as many cities are they still share many similarities.  Two of my favorite countries to visit were Hong Kong and Egypt.  They both presented major vernacular and transnational attributes that I could not help but notice.  However as similar as the two cities are, they are still completely different and unique in their own way.  A much more complete description of these two countries can be found at the following links.

Examination of Asian Country: Hong Kong
Examination of Mediterranean Country: Egypt


 Hong Kong’s vernacular attributes were much more subtle than Egypt’s.  The streets of Hong Kong were loaded with signs of being a vernacular city.  Family owned restaurants were located next to large international businesses, street markets lined the streets in the late afternoon and small shops were located on nearly every street.  Architectural landmarks were every where many of them appeared in pristine condition.  This could be explained with Edward Denison’s article "Restoring History in China."   The article discusses the great extent China is going through to restore its monuments and at what cost.  China’s urban residential buildings are being demolished for the renovation of historical landmarks.  The transnational feel of Hong Kong can also be felt in the city center.  Lisa Law’s article "Defying Disappearance: Cosmopolitan Public Space in Hong Kong" discusses the events that occur in the town’s center every Sunday.  Central Hong Kong is seen as a safe haven for many of the transnational workers that live there.  Sunday is a day of transformation for the center that typically has a very genuine vernacular feel.  The article discusses the way Central attracts all the guest workers for a weekly ritual that is present throughout the community.  A further example of China’s transnationalism is present in the article written by Fulong Wu, "Transplanting Cityscapes.This article talks about the different residential communities in Beijing, many of which were built specifically for foreigners.  Developers must apply for different permits, if the future home buyer is not a Chinese citizen, this is clearly a sign of a transnational city.  Egypt in contrast was much more obvious when it came to their signs of being a vernacular city, the pyramids were a dead give it away.  The streets also had venders selling t-shirts and souvenirs to tourists and there were small restaurants and hookah bars that were family owned.  The countries were also very similar in their transnational attributes.

International businesses were also very present in the both countries.  However, Hong Kong had more of the physical characteristics of an international city.  The city was more of a concrete jungle, filled with apartments and businesses that reached the sky and carried on for as far as the eye could see.  International corporations were not an uncommon sight either, the amount of businesses that I recognized from home was amazing, in a very comforting way.  Egypt’s cities were much different in their physical appearance.  Farha Ghannam’s chapter "Relocation and the Creation of a Global City"  is a prime example of how different Egypt really is.  This article discusses the diversity that Cairo has to offer and how as a city can appeal to a broad range of people.  The modern really meets the traditional.  Seeing advertisements for businesses like Sony, Chili’s and Pizza Hut with the pyramids lurking in the background gave the city a completely different feel.  A different aspect to Egypt’s cities comes in the form of the residential communities.  As Petra Kuppinger discusses in the article "Exclusive Greenery: new gated communities in Cairo," gated communities are a becoming a larger portion of the cities.  The diversity in the income of many of Cairo’s residents is now becoming very apparent in the new upscale neighborhoods.  This is also just one more prime example of how Cairo is becoming an international city.  Cairo and Hong Kong many appear to exists in two completely different worlds but when it comes to many of the important attributes that an international city call for they could not be anymore similar.


          photo  In conclusion the similarities that each of these countries share can be counter balanced by their contradicting characteristics.  Each country that I have visited proves to be unique and beautiful in its own way.  Every time I walked off the ship it was like a metaphorical Christmas, opening a new city full of different people, traditions and practices.  Noticing the similarities was never as exciting as discovering the differences that lay hidden from the ordinary eye.  Witnessing the core elements that make up a city like the ethnoscapes, mediascapes, and finanscapes helped me to examine and see the countries that I visited in a way I never thought possible.  Knowing that cities are comprised of more elements than just people and their daily grinds gave me a new appreciation that I hope never fades. 

            The ethnoscape for Hong Kong and Egypt were very different.  Hong Kong was a country with a very obvious ethnoscape, whereas Egypt’s ethnoscape was much more concealed.  The mediascape for both countries were very easily witnessed.  Information was spread easily and openly in both countries, which made traveling in the country much easier.  The last main dimension that I observed for both countries was the finanscapes.  Both countries had a global capital flow that was very easily witnessed with their transnational businesses.  Through all of my travels I found that observing the many dimensions of each city proved to be exceptional and enlightening in a very refreshing way.  I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world and I hope that my attitude toward new experiences is forever changed after this voyage of discovery. 

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