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Is Hong Kong safe?

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Thank you for your continued updates. They are very much appreciated. We arrive in mid-February and are looking forward to our visit.

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Definitely reading these updates with interest. We are due to stop in on Jan 12/13 on Diamond Princess and keen to check Hong Kong out, go to Disneyland etc.  My understanding is that no cruise ships have been forced to cancel a stop at Hong Kong, and if you are careful and aware of the situation then it's mostly ok.

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Silent night, holy night already in HKG (local time) but it is a little different, not quite a peaceful night in multiple areas ... including districts/locations popular with visitors & tourists on Christmas Eve.  Not all the local folks are out to attend church services - the blackshirts are out again, some wearing masks and other gears.

 

Tsim Sha Tsui, Mong Kok has been the hot spots for a while, resulting in a strong police presence ... Admiralty on the island side is now being added on streaming live news sources.  One of the Mong Kok MTR station entrance closed in response has been set on fire (again) and fire services called in to put out it out.   These isn't again, by any means, IMHO, a peaceful gathering or non-violent protest by unlawfully blocking Nathan Road & stopping traffic - despite police warnings.  Police's water cannon truck, backed by armoured police vehicle, just turned on the hoses after urging the crowd to disperse & leave.  

 

A live map of the trouble areas now should give you an idea of where to avoid or not go ... should ship passengers associated with the Mein Schiff 6 and/or Costa are already there pre-cruise, please do move away & avoid those area - tune to local news and the MTR App on closure, etc.  Police units in full riot gears are on the move - and from what we can see (9 live camera feeds) using minimal & non-lethal force in crowd control.  Pepper sprays & tear gas rounds had been fired ... expect beanbag & rubber rounds, pepperpaint balls to be used; and, arrests to be made.  

 

Otherwise, it has been largely calmer in the last 2 weeks, aside from the police seizure of loaded firearms (P-80 among them) and an AR-15 rifle w. collapsable stock, over 200 live rounds, including a high capacity drum magazine, ready to fire ... in one of the arrested suspect's flat (apartment).  

 

Details, analysis & news commentary can be found in SCMP and other sources, read & decide for yourself.   Key dates to be mindful of & careful with: New Year's Eve and New Year Day in HK.  

 

We've been away for an 8 nights cruise - ran the Roll Call with 50+ and onboard Meet & Greet/Mingle with 40 attendees (even chatted with 2 fellow CC'er originally from HK about these) - back this past weekend, did our last minute Christmas shopping at the mall (and online).  Wish all CC'er a safe, happy & peaceful holidays, wherever you are.  

 

 

HKMaplive-24Nov2019-NightSS.jpg

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Trying to convince my partner to do a cruise that starts in Hong Kong a year from now.  Does anyone seriously believe the protests will still be going by then?

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1 hour ago, zitsky said:

Trying to convince my partner to do a cruise that starts in Hong Kong a year from now.  Does anyone seriously believe the protests will still be going by then?

That’s the billion dollar question.  We cancelled last year when two Canadians were arrested last year.  They now have been in prison a year.  So? 

Edited by bennybear

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7 hours ago, zitsky said:

Trying to convince my partner to do a cruise that starts in Hong Kong a year from now.  Does anyone seriously believe the protests will still be going by then?

If you book that cruise, you really don't have anything to lose.  Right now, you might get a good price and cabin selection.  You can always cancel it before final payment is due.

 

We are doing a cruise from Hong Kong this February.  We had to make final payment two months ago and we were torn about whether or not to cancel it.  We decided to keep it, thinking that protests would probably end, but that's not looking good right now.  But it should work out OK.  It might be an inconvenience while we're in Hong Kong, but once we are on the ship, any protests can't have any impact on the actual cruise.

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I just read that there likely will be some disruption and inconvenience for tourists around New Year's Eve and New Years' day in Hong Kong.

 

New Year's Eve: https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3043547/hong-kong-protesters-and-police-clash-third-straight-day  https://www.asiatimes.com/2019/12/article/protests-to-rock-hks-malls-at-christmas-new-year/ - it is unknown where the hot spots will be - likely the same areas that's been hot in the past e.g. Mong Kok? TST? High end shopping malls? My guess is some businesses in recent trouble areas will close early NYE. 

 

New Year's day Victoria Park to Central protest 2PM - this may be big since it is a holiday!
https://geoexpat.com/forum/342/thread355173.html

 

The NYE fireworks is cancel at the harbor. Disneyland Hong Kong also cancel the NYE count down. The HK tourism board announced a $4M HKD "Lucky Draw" live broadcast program to replace the annual fireworks. Residents and visitors can win prizes including iPhones, instant supermarket coupons and the grand prize of Airline tickets to/from Hong Kong anywhere Cathay Pacific flies.  20,000+ prizes will be given away over the few hours of live TV broadcast. There will also be a count down to 2020 Symphony of Light show at the harbor.  https://www.pata.org/hong-kong-gears-up-for-the-new-year-countdown-with-a-hk4m-worth-of-lucky-draw-prizes/

 

If you are doing a pre or post cruise in Hong Kong during NYE / New Year's Day you may want to keep an eye out on the  live links on protests hongkong.liveuamap.com and https://hkmap.live/  If there are signs of trouble you may want to avoid the area e.g. skip seeing the light show at TST if there are problems in TST or anywhere near. 

 

An alternative to staying in Hong Kong is to enjoy NYE and New Year's Day in Macau. There will be a big fireworks show for the 20th anniversary Macau returning to China https://macaotourism.gov.mo/en/events/whatson/7234/?type=5.  However prices are high for hotels in Macau for these 2 days but still some lower cost options. There's lots to do in Macau NOT just gambling = Google or look at TripAdvisor. The new Hong Kong Zhuhai Macau Bridge (HZMB) makes the trip so easy and inexpensive!  40 minutes shuttle ride from bridge port to bridge port.  65 HKD or 44 HKD for Elders (65 or above visitors are also eligible for the discounted fare). Hotels in Macau are not that expensive.  Zhuhai is even more inexpensive!  

 

Laurence
 

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On 12/25/2019 at 1:06 AM, Lou33 said:

If you book that ... don't have anything to lose ... might get a good price and cabin selection ... cancel it before final payment is due.

 

We are doing a cruise from Hong Kong this February.  But it should work out OK.  It might be an inconvenience ... but once we are on the ship, any protests can't have any impact on the actual cruise.

 

Good point for cruises that far out, think of some of the ports in Mexico or the Caribbeans (without naming specific ones) that, some, seasoned cruisers would labeled as urban slums/dumps - staying on the ship or not go ashore, not even do shorex organized by the lines ... think of HK's stop/port as being like one of those in Mexico or the Caribbean ports instead, even with heavy police and/or military patrol, armed with M-16 or AR-15 rifles (and, South Korea for that matter, especially near the DMZ and East Sea resort areas that border NK) especially if it is just a port stop.  There is plenty of time to cancel the cruise before final payment ... airfares are more difficult.  Get a good cancel for any reasons trip insurance to protect those vacation investment dollars.  

 

Over the last 6 months, HK's economy has sinked officially into a recession, unemployment up, bankruptcy filings up, and expect more of the same - check ahead for store hours & possible closing, permanently.  Crime rates are up for burglary or retail store break-in, thefts and armed robberies against high-end watch & jewelry stores, suicides up ...  But, for the typical cruise ship visitors to HK and tourists - should be fine, travel smartly & visit wisely, stay alert.  Lines are shorter, HK's government and tourism sector are launching promotions, deals & specials.  

 

This week, the protests, disruptions & attempted sabotage -largely against targeted stores & businesses, now expanded to HSBC & HSB's retail banking branches, etc. has flared up again (b/c - schools are out/secondary or junior/high school students are off for the holidays ... those under 18 years old, accounted for above 40% of the over 6,000 arrested by the HK Police) 

 

Lunar Chinese New Year is at the end of January, I don't believe even the fortune tellers are confident of their annual forecasts & predictions; and, I see nothing in the crystal balls ... just foggy & cloudy days ahead.  Airfares on select carriers into HKG are looking pretty good at the moment, they are even better to other destination cities in SE Asia. 

 

Alas, there isn't a simplistic way to yield a definitive answer that's good, true & valid for everyone.  

 

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1 hour ago, ebslcc said:

I just read that there likely will be some disruption and inconvenience for tourists around New Year's Eve and New Years' day ... unknown where the hot spots will be - likely the same areas that's been hot in the past e.g. Mong Kok? TST? High end shopping malls? My guess is some businesses in recent trouble areas will close early NYE. 

 

New Year's day Victoria Park to Central protest 2PM - this may be big since it is a holiday!
https://geoexpat.com/forum/342/thread355173.html

The NYE fireworks is cancel  ... Disneyland Hong Kong also cancel the NYE count down ... keep an eye out on the live links on protests hongkong.liveuamap.com and https://hkmap.live/  If there are signs of trouble you may want to ... e.g. skip seeing the light show at TST ...

 

An alternative to staying in Hong Kong is ... Macau. There will be a big fireworks show for the 20th anniversary Macau returning to China ...  Hotels in Macau are not that expensive.  Zhuhai is even more inexpensive!  

 

Bravo, Laurence for the above ... and the trip report/new thread that you posted is excellent, great info from a recent cruiser's perspective and being there.  Many, many following these news & development are going to find it useful, informative & insightful.  

 

With all the collateral damages done to the entire MTR systems-wide, I wonder whether that new station at Kai Tak is going to open as scheduled or get pushed back ... and, as I understood, other unrelated construction issues on that new line/expansion - we shall see & find out.

 

There protests/anti-government and hatred toward the police buzz words or code term these days are "be water" and evasive, faked news ... somewhere, I read earlier this week that the NYE gathering was cancelled but the NYD midday is on and they are pushing it big time - on the island side.  Local police has been adopting and changing their tactical approaches, and no longer reactive - to try to contain & avoid large scale incidents from getting worst in enforcing law & order ... but, PTU & specialized units/teams are out there - nobody should be alamred by the presence of Rem 870's and AR-15's with live rounds, as deterrents (MP5's  hasn't been seen yet, except inside the airport.)   Most uniformed cops are issued standard .38 revolvers but plainclothes/undercover, etc. are qualified & using Glock's for extra firepower - regardless, warning shots are permitted.  

 

Small bands have been going after major shopping malls or centres in different districts, ususally the ones inter-connected with MTR stations & its mutiple entrances/exits ... including Kowloon Bay/Telford Plaza, nearest to the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal - that info/detail might not be posted on SCMP.

 

I started the above post last night & was going to hold it off, before we watched more news streaming across this morning - and, was still not sure if I should ring this up yet.  There are ways of getting around town and into/out of town - glad to hear that Uber worked out well ... police resources are stretched way too thin for them to target these drivers, like those street vendors on Temple Street, hurting & struggling hard to earn a decent living.  A local news headline proclaimed "half a million HK people (locals/residents) fled north to mainland to escape for the holidays" whereas in-bound visitors are said to be half of what it was, compared to last year, sadly. 

 

With several ships scheduled for the week ahead, I am sure that the cruise lines themselves are struggling to do their risks assessments & management, with vested interest and concerns in their mind.  

Edited by mking8288

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Any speculation as to what Hong Kong will look like / be like 6 months or 12 months later?  Will protests just go on and on and on?

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7 hours ago, zitsky said:

Any speculation as to what Hong Kong will look like / be like 6 months or 12 months later?  Will protests just go on and on and on?

 

Well, ask the folks here in Mong Kok, an indoor multi-story mall connected to the MTR station.  I am sure their guess will be better and less speculative than mine.  Occupy Central was bad and over several years ago and then ...

 

The militant fraction among them will probably play hit & run, hide & pop-up as in "be water" and unpredictable as ever. Recovery isn't going to happen in an instant, and reforms & changes are needed ... I just don't see a quick end to deep seated social unrest and polarized division.

OK, enough said. Full stop on editorializing commentary.

 

Screenshot_20191226-184620.png

Edited by mking8288

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We arrived early morning in Hong Kong on December 5th.  We spent some time at Hong Kong Disneyland on the 5th and 6th as well as walking around Kowloon and taking the Star Ferry over to HK Island.  We also watched the HK Island laser light show from the wharf in Kowloon (where we stayed at the Grand Hyatt).  On the 7th we checked into our ship, the Celebrity Millennium for an overnight stay in Hong Kong.  On the 8th we took the MRT to where we finally found the Victoria Peak tram.  We went to the peak, had lunch and enjoyed the scenery.  On the return we took a taxi to the ship.

 

During these 4 days we saw absolutely nothing of protests (except leftover graffiti in some subways and some remnants of previous destructive behavior). We experienced no delays on the multiple times we took the MRT.

 

Just be careful and you should be fine.

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LBSKI, thank you for posting your experience here. We arrive in mid-February and are staying 5 nights post-cruise. Also planning a day at Disneyland during our stay. We've been following this thread for several months and very much appreciate everyone's posts and contributions.

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10 hours ago, LBSKI said:

We arrived early morning in Hong Kong on December 5th.  We spent some time at Hong Kong Disneyland on the 5th and 6th as well as walking around Kowloon and taking the Star Ferry over to HK Island.  We also watched the HK Island laser light show from the wharf in Kowloon (where we stayed at the Grand Hyatt).  On the 7th we checked into our ship, the Celebrity Millennium for an overnight stay in Hong Kong.  On the 8th we took the MRT to where we finally found the Victoria Peak tram.  We went to the peak, had lunch and enjoyed the scenery.  On the return we took a taxi to the ship.

 

During these 4 days we saw absolutely nothing of protests (except leftover graffiti in some subways and some remnants of previous destructive behavior). We experienced no delays on the multiple times we took the MRT.

 

Just be careful and you should be fine.

 

As mentioned in my Hong Kong Trip Report / Kai Tak thread https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2718887-hong-kong-cruise-stop-trip-report-kai-tak-shuttles-mtr-and-hong-kong-macau-tour-options/ we arrived Hong Kong on the Celebrity Millennium Friday December 6th and spend another day in Hong Kong December 10th before flying home close to midnight. During these 2 days we also saw absolutely nothing of protests except leftover graffiti around the city and some covered up damages to the MTR. I think most tourist will experience the same.

 

 

BTW, I am not sure if this was mentioned South China Morning News has a dedicated page on advisories for visitors to keep up with the news and plan your day:
https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/transport/article/3022629/hong-kong-protests-latest-advisories-plan-your-day
https://www.scmp.com/

 

Laurence
 

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I can't find it online but there was an article on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, yesterday,  Saturday, 12/28.  

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Talked to my partner about a cruise starting in Hong Kong.  I'm willing to try it.  He's not willing to risk having the airport shut down or having to deal with other interruptions.  So we will look for some other destination not going through protests and interruptions.  Too bad because we found a good trip that would go over the Christmas and New Year holidays, which is what he wanted.

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FYI, for those who may be on a pre-cruise in Hong Kong New Year's Eve, New Year's Day

https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/hong-kong-to-end-2019-with-multiple-protests-big-march-planned-for-jan-1

"Events dubbed "Suck the Eve" and "Shop with you" are scheduled for New Year's Eve on Tuesday (Dec 31) around the city, including in the party district of Lan Kwai Fong, Hong Kong's picturesque Victoria Harbour, and popular shopping malls, according to notices circulated on social media.

A New Year's Day march on Jan 1 has been given police permission and will start from a large park in bustling Causeway Bay and end in the central business district, say its organisers, the Civil Human Rights Front."

 

Normal New Year's Eve celebrations will probably be severely dampen.  Lan Kwai Fong is a party area where a lot of Expat's hang out.  There may be a repeat of Halloween troubles in the area NYE https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3035901/crazy-night-hong-kong-party-hub-lan-kwai-fong-halloween I would stay away from that area and stay away from normal hot spots e.g. Nathan Road / Mong Kok and possibly even TST at night.  

 

The Jan 1st march starting 2 PM from Causeway Bay to Central will likely be a big one. My guess is it will be a mostly peaceful march during the day with possible flare ups at night - similar to the December 8th 6th months protest anniversary march https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3038319/thousands-show-hong-kong-protest-organised-civil-human. It will inconvenience those planning to tour in HK Island those trying to get to/from near by hotels during and after the march. If you are in Hong Kong you may want to monitor the live news feeds mentioned in previous posts.

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Less than 30 minutes to the New Year 2020 in HKG (local time), let's hope for a safe & happy one ahead for all. 

 

As above, here's the current/latest map screenshot - hotspots this evening was/is mostly around Prince Edward MTR Station (next to the local police station) and Mong Kok, along Nathan Road (and HSBC & BOC bank branches that was vandalized earlier in the week) plus a very, high-profile riot police presence in crowd control in TST area, including the waterfront Promenade ... where locals & visitors usually gathered each NYE to watch & do the countdown.  

 

On the HK island side, a water canon truck on the move from Wan Chai toward Central, as the crowds expected to gather at LKF area, open with heavy security (parents are advised to not bring children along).  Shopping malls are closed or closing earlier this year.  MTR train/light rail, ferry & bus services are running all night instead of stopping or switching to late night schedule, a usual practice - unless situations called for otherwise to suspend or end the services.  

 

It has been, largely, peaceful & non-violent, with minimal arrest and mostly the police dispersing large crowds for safety reasons - on the lookout for trouble-makers & to make it safe for the public at large ... not an easy task.  **** Oops, a 2nd. water cannon truck in Mong Kok just "fired" its water hoses, sending those that refused police orders running for cover @23:11 local time.  A police armoured vehicle moving up the wide street (possibly Nathan Road to move road bocks out of the way, and a mini "Bobcat" carting away debris.

 

Kowloon Bay MTR Station, including Telford Plaza/Shopping Mall and the 2nd. MTR Station nearest to the Kai Tak C.T. has been the random & unannounced target of the protestors singing "Let's Shop" in Chinese in attempts to disrupt businesses inside these multi-story shopping areas in the past week.  I concur with the advice to use a direct taxi (and, if comfortable - do Uber rides to/from KTCT instead of the mall shuttles over the next 24 - 36 hours, unless you are absolutely comfortable & near certain of your options and wherabouts, etc.) 

 

For HK/Kowloon, a typical in-town ride will cost no more than $15 to $20 USD including a small, 10-15% tips will be greatly appreciated - very cheap, inexpensive for 2 to 3, 4 going together sharing the costs without large luggage - just do it and have local currencies available ... round up the fare total, as they said "keep the loose change, including coins."    

 

New Year's Day midday event/march is expected to attract and draw a large crowd between Causeway Bay toward Wan Chai/Central - as been said, best to keep a safe distance further away and/or watch it streamed live on TV (if you have access to it).   

 

 

HKMapLive-31Nov2019-NightSS1.jpg

Edited by mking8288

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Here's 2020 ... wishing all safe & happy cruising and travel, wherever you are, be well and stay healthy !! 

 

 

Happy 2020 - ON.CC Live - HKG Victoria Harbour.jpg

Happy 2020 - ON.CC Live - Victoria Harbour, HKG.jpg

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I found this news feed https://hongkongbuzz.hk/ with ~weekly updates of planned protests in the coming ~2 weeks. The January 11th update is on the front page right now.  Search on "Protest" to see the latest and past updates.  I think most of these listed are small peaceful protests which are not newsworthy unless there are arrests and violence.   If you happen to run into them (e.g. the lunch time ones in Central Chater Garden overpass walkways) it's common sense to walk away, don't take photos of protesters. 

 

It's the bigger protests like the New Year's Day one that are more disruptive and you may have to change your touring plan.  See the pinned TripAdvisor Hong Kong Forum posting "Is HK save to travel?" for good recent postings from folks who were staying in Hong Kong during the Christmas and New Year and what they encountered and how they stay away from troubles.  They are good reads in case you are staying pre or post cruise.

 

Laurence

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On 1/11/2020 at 12:56 AM, ebslcc said:

I found this news feed https://hongkongbuzz.hk/ with ~weekly updates of planned protests in the coming ~2 weeks. The January 11th update is on the front page right now.  Search on "Protest" to see the latest and past updates.  I think most of these listed are small peaceful protests which are not newsworthy unless there are arrests and violence.   If you happen to run into them (e.g. the lunch time ones in Central Chater Garden overpass walkways) it's common sense to walk away, don't take photos of protesters. 

 

It's the bigger protests like the New Year's Day one that are more disruptive and you may have to change your touring plan.  See the pinned TripAdvisor Hong Kong Forum posting "Is HK save to travel?" for good recent postings from folks who were staying in Hong Kong during the Christmas and New Year and what they encountered and how they stay away from troubles.  They are good reads in case you are staying pre or post cruise.

 

Laurence

The updated planned protest list is just published https://hongkongbuzz.hk/2020/01/update-on-planned-protests-17-january It's going to be a very interesting couple of weeks pre-Chinese New Year and the few days after.  The planned protest list has the usual warnings re: lunch time "pop up" protests in Central (Chater Garden), Kowloon Bay (CIC Zero Carbon Building, Sheung Yuet Road), Lai Chi Kok & Cheung Sha Wan (Intersection of Cheung Lai Street and Cheung Shun Street), San Po Kong (McDonald’s at Tai Yau Street), and Kwun Tong (InPARK) every lunchtime on weekdays between 12:30 – 3:00 pm.  

These are usually attended by dozens to hundreds of people and from what I've seen on live streams they are usually just noisy - just walk pass or walk to the other side or avoid walking near or in the staging areas like Charter Garden in Central. 

 

Looking at the list I think that there will be activities around a few places that tourist should avoid.  For example:

17 January: 9:00 – 11:00 pm. Running with You. Hung Hom Promenade → Hong Kong Clock Tower.

 

If I am in HK, I would skip the Lunar New Year fairs 😞 or the times that the protesters planned to show up.  For example 18 – 19 January: 3:00 – 6:00 pm. Lunar New Year Fair at Central and Western District. Centre Street/Second Street/High Street, Sai Ying Pun. and for sure 24 – 25 January: 2:00 pm – 1:00 am. Fever Fes. (Off the Ground Lunar New Year Fair). Mong KokIMHO any planned protests in Mong Kok late at night should be avoided!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For some folks in HK New Years is a 3 to 7 days holiday with kids off school => protests will have larger crowds.

 

Laurence

Edited by ebslcc
fixed insert

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A quick update & heads-up, consistent ebslcc's post just above.  Minor confrontations has flared up between HK Police and the protesting rioters, a relatively small number of trouble-makers that aimed to disrupt, sabotage & determined to destroy the economy - personally, I consider these fractions to be more "militant" in their approach, unpredictable & not afraid to invoke violence.  In recent weeks, police has seized more homemade firebombs, pipe bombs, modified air guns and deadly firearms with lived ammo due to better intelligence, taken from multiple locations, including collapsible batons and even bullet-proof vests, apparently imported & shipped from abroad.  These are good indicators, suggesting an underground movement to "be water" while staying low, waiting for an opportune time to spike.  

 

For the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday weekend coming up - police are expecting more trouble to be staged, likely at different locations - an extra 2,000 cops are being strategically deployed for rapid mobilization, with Mong Kok, Kowloon being a prime hot spot for the trouble-makers to gather.  Best to avoid and steer clear of the area, especially this Sunday, starting from midday on & certainly by late afternoon/early evening (Jan 26th).  

 

Expect a high profile police presence in the coming days, some will be armed and on mobile patrol, to maintain a visible presence as a strong deterrent … along with water cannon truck and lightly armoured police personnel carriers & other tactical vehicles.  No need to be alarmed but if you see, hear and smell trouble in that or other unexpected area, turn and leave calmly, no need to run from the scene - police will generally issue plenty of warnings and raise different color flags to alert the public. 

The Lunar New Year celebrations across HK has been scaled back/down, for public safety reasons and to minimize large crowds.  Major retails stores, shopping malls & businesses will possibly be closed and/or cutting back their extended open hours - check ahead first to reconfirm.  After the holidays, a trade group is forecasting that 500 retail food & dining establishments are expected to shut their doors and close up permanently - despite any promised government bailout programs or privately-funded subsidies or financial aid offered.  

 

 

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