The time has almost come for me to depart this big, beautiful city. But, before I do, here’s a thing or ten I’ve learnt over my three years…
1: Beware the impatient imposter in disguise
If you get bumped, pushed, jostled, cut-off, or obstructed by someone standing still at the escalator summit, take a deep breath and remember they’re probably not from Hong Kong. In fact, they are just tourists who have come from a land where manners aren’t quite so prevalent.
2: Jangle your keys or coins when overtaking
Cars have horns, bikes have bells, pedestrians can jingle-jangle their metallic objects. That’s right, a well-timed shake of a key filled pocket wards against zig-zagging wanderers. A vigorously jolted handful of spare change can even help disperse slow roaming herds.
3: Crossing between Kowloon and the Island? Do yourself a favor – take, the, ferry!
Sure the MTR is fast and timely, but at best, the experience is bland and boring. When there’s time, Kaleigh and I endeavor to embark on the world famous Star Ferry. It’s easy to let the imagination run wild on this voyage, yet you can’t help but quickly be blown back to reality by the island’s looming, modern-day skyline.
Ferry’s leave every few minutes from TST to Central/Wan Chai for just a few dollars.
4: Walk from the Tsim Sha Tsui harbourfront up to Sham Shui Po.
These areas hold the real heart and soul of Hong Kong. The streets here are busting at every junction with vibrancy and personality which sums up well the spirit of this SAR. Take your time on a cool evening and stroll the whole way (1.5 hours) to get a good sense of true local life.
My favorite route; 1881 Heritage, Chunking Mansion, Kowloon Park, Temple Street markets, Yau Ma Tei fruit and Veg market, Mong Kok wet markets, Ladies Market, Prince Edward pet street (Fa Yuen Street), Sham Shui Po electric market.
5: Bring your own chair if you want to sit out on a Sunday
With their one day off a week, the Filipino nannies of Hong Kong know what they want to do – sit outside, eat food, and chat with their mates. These lovely ladies do not have any space of their own (seriously, many live in tiny closets) so they find space where they can.
6: Really, really, really make the most of Hong Kong’s national, country, and even city parks.
“Hong Kong is busy” they say “Hong Kong is crowded” they want you to believe. I’m not sure who ‘they’ are, but they are most certainly stupid and quite wrong! Head out to any hiking trail, country park, or even one of the numerous beaches, and I promise you will find your own slice of peace away from the chaotic city.
I’ve spent much of my time here exploring Sai Kung country park – an area of land in the northeast, dense in awe-inspiring landscapes. Get started by checking out the crystal clear waters of Hoi Ha Wan.
7: Avoid wet patches on sunny days
It’s a big warning sign, puddles on pavements during blue skies sunshiney days – one you’ll quickly learn to avoid… walk over wet patches at the peril of showering in grungy AC runoff.
8: Don’t give Western beggars (A.K.A absolute scum) any money
Look, there are a LOT of local people here who work their asses off to make less than 300USD a month. Then there are the Western dregs of society who think holding a sign is enough to fund their world booze-cruise tour.
If somebody’s playing tunes that you love or making gifts you want, why not pay for it. Just don’t fuel the travels of morons with signs.
9: How to clear a que (lineup) or room
If there is one thing that you MUST comprehend about Hong Kong people, it is that they hate germs. No, ‘hate’ is not strong enough. They despise them to the point of carrying around an artillery of weaponry to kill and guard against these microscopic bringers of the sniffles.
Just last week I walked into a doctor surgery, sat down, coughed, and two ladies simultaneously left. From what I could tell, they weren’t even together…
Top tip: The more exotic you look, the better this trick works. Many Hong Kongers view international germs as having chaffed from Satan himself.
10: Do not go shopping before 3 pm
Go before 3 pm and I guarantee you will only find grumpy zombies of shop attendants. The reason for this is that Hong Kongers like to socialize, late into the night, even on school nights – one of many reasons why I love them all so.
Many shops open around noon if not 1 pm.
For a very local late night dining experience, Exit E1 at Mong Kok MTR and turn left up Portland Street (anytime after 11 pm) for the best alfresco dining/street food experience Hong Kong has to offer.
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