Dining, laughing, living amid Hong Kong protests
HONG KONG (AP) — A couple in wedding dress and tuxedo pose for photos on Hong Kong’s famed Victoria Peak. A diner at a streetside restaurant focuses on his food while protesters march by. Two people ride the up escalator as a phalanx of riot-ready police descends on the other side.
Life is not quite normal after three months of steady protests in this Asian financial center — and yet normal life goes on, as it must, for the city’s 7.4 million people.
Residents, tourists and laughter fill the restaurants at the Temple Street night market, though declining airport arrivals and discounted hotel rooms show the tourism industry’s pain.
“There’s a lot going on here at the moment, obviously, but still a lovely place to be,” said David Smith, a 49-year-old British man sitting with friends at an outdoor table on a rain-dampened street. “You just have to be more careful when you are here.”
The images of this summer’s pro-democracy and anti-police and anti-government protests have been riveting. Repeated bursts of tear gas. Homemade gasoline bombs hurled at police. Blood stains on the ground. A sea of umbrellas as marchers take over downtown streets.
Away from, or between, the madness, old-timers play their mahjong tiles. Bright laundry hangs from a drab apartment building in this vertical city. Spray-painted slogans cover a Kate Spade advertisement on a bus shelter. On the other side, people wait for the bus.