The demise of a car model usually doesn’t even warrant a mention in the news unless, of course, it’s the iconic Volkswagen Beetle.
Its German manufacturer said it is ending production of the Beetle, in its modern incarnation, in 2019. To car enthusiasts, the original Beetle they missed so much died many years before that.
Hong Kong people over 50 years of age would remember seeing these “Bugs” clambering up the hills or negotiating the narrow back streets in the 60s and 70s. Many of them have fond memories owning and driving one.
By modern standard, it’s a lousy car, woefully underpowered and unsafe to drive. But it has character that its modern counterparts simply cannot hope to match. Even in its death, it stands as a symbol of the time when simple and functional design trumped hypes and gadgetry.
There are many hard-nose businesspersons, politicians and bureaucrats in this capitalistic town who scoffed at common folks’ emotional attachment to the good old days. One politician openly wondered how young people can possible talk about cherishing the past in which they have never lived.
The answer is they can because there still exist in Hong Kong, almost by miracle, a few old buildings and establishments that remind us of the time when we’re spared the noise of politicians, business leaders and government officials reminding us how inadequate we have become.
Young people in Hong Kong are used to shopping for their favorite snacks and drinks in convenience stores and supermarkets. But there are no shortage of people, young and old, making the trek to a small shop in Western district to stock up on traditional local treats that can no longer be found anywhere else.
Won ton noodles, the queen of Cantonese fast food, can be had in many eateries ranging from the coffee shops of five-star hotels to the humble neighborhood cha chaan teng. But connoisseurs insist on getting their fix at the few remaining eateries that still make their noodles by hand the traditional way.
Let’s hope they don’t go the way of the “Bug.”
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