In April I went to a bar with the terrible name Ozone on the 188th floor of the Ritz-Carlton in Hong Kong. We were so high up that the broad deck was enveloped in mist, but when it cleared you could see the city far below like a map made of lights, twinkling with promises and secrets. We talked about the recent Hong Kong election, which had been, as Nelvin put it, a choice between a candidate who was only semi-close to Beijing and one who was more explicitly Politburo-friendly.
Sunday will mark 15 years since Britain handed Hong Kong back to China. Back then, everyone wondered what the city would become like. Residents left in droves. Some of them, like young Nelvin, came back. But everyone still wonders what China will do to this town. Will Hong Kong retain its frenetic polyglot charm, its unusual mix of chaos and disorder? Will it remain as magically itself as, say, New Orleans? Will it become more like China, or the other way around?
I broke away from the boys, who went out for late-night duck, and went back to our room at the Y, handing the cab driver a piece of paper with the address written on it in Chinese. Our room was only on the 19th floor, but I still felt high-up, staring at Kowloon verticality across the way. I took this picture out the window.