In the Hong Kong district of Sham Shui Po, Kowloon side, the market stalls play host to many a social gathering. Groups of older men, stylish in aviators, crisp white, or pastel, short-sleeved shirts and tailored trousers, stand in a cloud of imperial leather, discussing, well...I rarely know. But sometimes there's a clue in the shape of racing forms being passed around, or a grandchild being proudly held aloft - a champion at a sporting event.
This week Hong Kong officials incinerated the first batch of ivory, from a 29.6 tonne stockpile, which in January 2014 they committed to destroy over a two year period. There are those that will question this move, claiming that destroying ivory stockpiles acts to increase the value of remaining ivory. The reality however is very different.
With space finite and demand for it high, the city's towers are not only for banks and flats, but often host a hotchpotch of tailors, jewellers and iron mongers living harmoniously side by side. As the number of red lanterns decorating the city increased in anticipation of Chinese New Year, the possibilities for urban exploration seemed endless.
Within minutes of arriving in Hong Kong, I was told my home town of Shanghai was only 'almost as good' as this former British colonial town. I wasn't surprised by the comment. The Chinese are very competitive when it comes to their cities and Hong Kong is fighting to maintain her lead over the fast-growing economic hubs of mainland China.
Moving abroad can be stressful, that much is obvious, but when you're about to leave home some arrangements come more naturally than others. While I managed to hold a leaving party before moving to Hong Kong, some things, such as organising the shipment of important possessions, fell by the wayside. Oh well - who needs a change of clothes anyway?
China's ivory stockpile destruction was significant because it is the world's largest ivory marketplace. Ivory carving and sales are legal in China and this has provided a cover for the trade there. An estimated 30,000 African elephants were illegally killed last year for their tusks; at this rate, the remaining 400,000 African elephants will be wiped out in two decades.
My dad makes the trip every year to see family, and with a wedding invite for 28th December, we decided it made perfect sense to go during the festive season. Aside from gasps of 'won't that be weird?' (answer: I don't know yet), the main question people asked when I told them of my travel plans was: 'do they celebrate Christmas in Hong Kong?' Embarrassingly, I struggled to come up with a solid answer.
It's important to point out that this is a huge generalisation and, of course, there were/are exceptions to the rule. However, I think, overall, the gap is not an educational one - or level of smartness even - but rather one of attitude. As long as that factor remains, the UK hasn't got a hope in hell of climbing the table, never mind becoming number one.