Sunday, July 19, 2009

Day Eleven Hong Kong

On our way to Victoria Peak Calvin gives us some history about Hong Kong, it's British roots and the changes since the handover. We learn that the one child policy is not effective in HK and that they still have alternate form of governments – they call it a one government, two rule system. The property prices and taxes in HK are very low, making it a very appealing place for expats. The max income tax is 15%, and that is for people that make millions.

Hong Kong is the financial hub of the country, but is quickly being gained on by Shanghai. Currently BofA, HSBC, AIG and JP Morgan all have headquarters there, among others. There is also no sales tax in HK, but there are very extreme luxury taxes on items such as booze, cars and cigarettes. The tax for an automobile is more than 40% making it very hard for people to own, leading to a much better public transportation systems and cleaner air. Gas also runs about $13US per gallon.

Calvin tells us that a 20 year mortgage on $200kUS runs about $800US per month, as the interest rate is about 2% and there is no real estate tax. There are no pension plans offered by the companies in HK but because the income tax is so low, it's easy to sock money away into plans.

Victoria Peak gives us a bird’s eye view of the entire city and the quay. It's nestled up in the mountain in a lush forest area. HK is surrounded by parks, with 100's of acres dedicated as city parks – it's really quite incredible. We head next for Aberdeen harbor where we take a boat tour and see the world's largest floating restaurant and are able to take some photos of the fishing boats.

Afterwards we make a quick stop at Stanley Beach and Market where we have a few moments to stick our toes in the South China Sea. In the evening we head across the harbor and watch a laser light show before doing more wandering in the night market. The area is packed full of people but is much more multi-cultural than all the other areas we've visited.

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