This is my last day in Hong Kong for a long while. I and Shirley will leave early tomorrow morning for a 10 hour flight to London. In London, we found a free place to stay thanks to CouchSurfing.com. And then onto Sweden, then Denmark, Holland and more of Sweden.
So people ask me “How do you feel?”. About leaving Hong Kong that is. And I don’t feel anything special. The future is still very unknown for me – I have arranged to write my thesis in the fall here at HKUST but that’s about it. So, after cleaning and packing my room here (I will be renting it to some friends) there is not much to say about it all. I can’t say it feels like returning home, and I can’t say it’s like leaving home. Basically, I’m homeless. When I get to Sweden I will surely let you know if things change – there is a major chance I will think differently after getting accustomed to a Swedish, dreary life again.
That’s not all I’m going to post about though. After spending some 9 and a half months in Hong Kong and China I have come up with the following short guide to find out if you really are in Hong Kong or not (inspired by BigWhiteGuy.com You know you are in Hong Kong when:
- People wash the porcelain at chinese restaurants with the tea that is provided by the staff. Never trust restaurants to dish your porcelain!
- A big number, like “9”, outside a shop actually means 10% sale. And “1” means 90%…
- If it’s hot outside, workers prefer to roll up their t-shirts to present their pretty bellies to innocent bystanders. Or just work in shorts.
- Supermarkets smell really strange, either due to durian fruit or due to lots of strange, dried parts of animals you didn’t know existed.
- People treat dried small fish and shrimps as snacks, and actually snag a few pieces for the big piles of these snacks seen in many supermarkets.
- Old women try to sell one piece of fish to you in the middle of parks. Gotta make a living!
- Apartments, no matter how small, often contain buddistic shrines with incense and lots of, if you excuse me, cheap porcelain and souvernirs. They are not allowed to be taken down or moved, so if you are unlucky, you might have to live with someones elses forefathers and shrine…
- Old people gather in flocks and roam around public avenues, every single day. Or rather, sit in flocks talkong or gambling. If they are not in the parks, they will be hauling goods with small carts through buzy streets… who ever said retired people only sit in their apartments?
- When you get on an almost full buss, no one will move one step in – instead you have to climb past them to reach the hidden seats. This is considered perfectly reasonable behaviour.
- It is perfectly reasonable that shops are open any day until midnight. Maximize the shopping!
You think this is strange? Let me add some observations of China, which is vastly different from Hong Kong in many aspects:
You know you are in China when:
- If you are westerner, people sell something to you. If not, they look at you for a looong time.
- People fill up bikes and carts with more stuff that you would ever put on/in a car. Especially, really old people do this. And then they manage to steer these bulk carriers safely through horrible traffic, without ever looking the least bit tired.
- People spit. And makes some extra noise to make it all the more clear who did it.
- People squat rather than sit. People even squat in groups.
- Roads can be crossed everywhere, according to the pedestrians, but nowhere, according to cars. And still, in spite of this chaos, the authorities still bother painting zebra crossings everywhere, which no one really bothers using.
- When you enter a supermarket, there is a special attendant to mark your belongings with a pen, to make sure it’s distinguishable from the goods of the store… having a problem with stealing, have we?
- People enters trains before letting existing passengers off. The reason to this is because the doors close very fast and violently – this in turn to deal with people crowding the entrances. Do we have a catch 22 problem? (While in Hong Kong, entering and exiting trains is almost always done in an orderly fashion).
- To buy any piece of already cheap goods at the market, you are expected to reject it, walk away so the shop owner has to follow you, shouting lower and lower prices until finally, you can agree.
- People just throw any trash they have right on the street…
- … and there is probably someone there to clean it up within minutes. In spite of this, most things are dirty anyway…
But don’t worry, I still like chinese people and Hong Kong. It’s all very charming. But I can’t say I like China, it hasn’t really made any impression on me