Hong Kong: Overall Impressions

THE GOOD

Best Investment: Big Bus Tour  It’s touristy, but the Big Bus Tour was a great decision. For about $40 I toured around Hong Kong (HK Island and Kowloon) for two days and listened to narration, available in several major languages. I can’t imagine a better, more cost-effective orientation to the place.

Cheap cabs: Public transportation is even cheaper, but you can cab it pretty much anywhere for $5–$10.

Language: English everywhere.

NOT-SO-GOOD

sidewalk nonsense  The worst thing about a huge concert is trying to leave after it’s over – throngs of slow-moving, impossible-to-pass people making their way to the exits. Hong Kong sidewalks are like that all the time, only worse. There seems to be a competition on who can walk the slowest and take up the most space. I don’t know how they do this, but when you set out to pass someone, they veer into your path and cut you off. Try to pass on the other side and they do it again! Sidewalk walkers in HK are appallingly oblivious to others; stopping abruptly in the middle of the sidewalk, bumping into people, not looking where they’re going. For me, the sidewalk situation is the worst thing about Hong Kong.

loud eating  Even among my dearest friends here, their eating noise level is insane. Loud smacking, slurping and talking with their mouths jam-packed full is just the beginning. One noteworthy exception to this was Jessica, who has excellent table manners.

the job  In the end, I was counting the days till I was done – never a good sign. The lack of leadership and communication for a place that small was impressive. No one seemed to know what was going on or where they stood with the company. And with clients writing their own ads (“Let’s just make the headline, ‘Auto insurance SOS!'”), they’re much closer to a service agency than a creative one. So I’m both grateful they had me out and happy to be moving on!

OBSERVATIONS

• I saw hundreds of interracial couples who were Asian gal / white guy, but never the reverse.

• Two Similarities with New Yorkers

1. You know how (some, not all!) New Yorkers look down on “bridge & tunnel” (B&T) people? It’s very similar to how Hong Kong people feel about the Mainland Chinese. (They’re reportedly loud, rude, uncultured, dirty, brainwashed, etc.)

2. Hong Kong residents claim to live in the greatest city in the world and they wholeheartedly believe it. Sound familiar? Personally, I don’t believe in a “best city in the world”. I think where one lives is very personal and that people underestimate their ability to adapt to new environments. Often, I think local pride is an excuse to not try someplace new.

• Photo essay ideas which would be insanely easy to do:

1. People carrying those hideous gold-and-brown LV bags.

2. People pushing flat carts through the streets; sometimes empty. Sometimes piled high.

3. T-shirts with nonsensical English messaging like, “Nothing will ever stand in your way”, “Genius is a little boy chasing a butterfly”, “You light up my live.” and “Now it’s my turn to sing a song.” Each of these were actual shirts I saw.

• Funny Meme Bank Some of these are pretty dern accurate:

Recommendations

hotel  60 West Hotel might be the best deal for the money. Clean, no frills, mini fridge & microwave in the room, daily housekeeping, twice-a-week towel and linen service. I paid $2,180/month.

haircut  Davey at Michell Rene. Got a great haircut for $24. Be sure to bring a photo or a Cantonese-speaking friend, as Davey’s English is pretty basic, but his skills are awesome!

laundry  Sunshine Laundry – various locations around the city. View the easy-to-spot sign here. $4 for up to 6 pounds to wash-dry-fold. Put items in a mesh bag to be hanger-dried.

where to eat Everyone everywhere seems to have a “omg! You have to eat at this place!!!” recommendation, but I’m not going to do that to you. Like New York, there’s great food all over HK; it just depends on what you’re in the mood for. Not to mention, people always seem to recommend places miles away from where you happen to be. I will recommend www.openrice.com. It’s Hong Kong’s version of yelp – an active community of avid eaters writing tons of reviews about places all over the city.

Staying here long-term (I could live here.)

Chinatowns in every major city are like bubbles of Asia – with almost no indications that they’re located in the US, UK, etc.  SoHo here in Hong Kong is like that in reverse. It’s the kind of place where you could live/hang out for years and years and never pick up a word of Cantonese or get one clue of what Hong Kong is really like. I like the familiar feeling of SoHo, but don’t see the point of crossing the pond if I’m going to insulate myself with a fabricated version of where I came from. If I were to come back long term (get an apartment, a job…) I’d force myself to live someplace like Lamma Island, stay far away from SoHo (the “expat village”), and make more of an effort to learn Cantonese.

2 thoughts on “Hong Kong: Overall Impressions

  1. I soooo relate to the sidewalk nonsense! It prompted my blog from HK. It continues to frustrate. Just the other day I saw a teenager bump into a toddler, putting the toddler on her backside…but instead of crying the toddler gave the teenager such a dirty look that the teenager looked genuinely afraid. I guess the attitude is bred early on!

    • Just read your post! You described this very well, “slow walkers on paths are left in a dazed and confused state of random side-to-side sauntering that exactly mirrors the overtaking efforts of those walking behind who want to pass. Uncanny.”

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