Some expats you might meet in Hong Kong

In the spirit of our analysis of the gymrats, here's a rundown of some of the expats you may meet here in Hong Kong.

The 'Proper' Englishman: in the past, he was definitely a civil servant. Now, he's likely been sent out by his company to be a desk jockey in their Hong Kong operation. Immediately recognizable by his uncontrollable use of the word 'proper', e.g. 'Why can't the bloody Chinese do a proper . . . . (fill in the blank with anything from 'fish and chips' to 'parliamentary system of governance'. Can be spotted in any of a number of expat-dominated clubs, berating the bartender about beer temperatures. His wife is summarized perfectly here [scroll down to the bottom of the page], by Mr Hemlock.

The well-intentioned blender. She's an expat wife, and she works hard -- usually far too hard -- to 'Make The Most Of This Amazing Experience: Living In Another Culture'. Invariably North American, almost always from a nice, upper-middle-class, vaguely liberal background. Signs up for Cantonese classes in her first week here, and although she never quite gets the hang of tones, she tenaciously bleats out her orders in the wet market every day or two, even as she's systematically ripped off by the smirking vegetable hawkers. Often spotted in sun hat, long shorts, and white sneakers, taking other ladies of her type around her favorite haunts.

The Old China Hand. Male. Over 50, overweight and over his first two wives. Has his old China hands planted firmly on the butt of a Filipina at least 20 years his junior. A dying breed, you'd think, but there are still quite a few to be seen around Lockhart Road in Wanchai.

The Islander. A common type into which many Hong Kong expats fall. The Islander works in Central, and lives in one of a narrow range of neighborhoods in mid-levels, Happy Valley, or the south side, i.e. Repulse Bay, Stanley/Tai Tam and Shouson Hill. He's defined by his utter disregard for any place other than those parts of Hong Kong Island frequented by expats: Kowloon? 'Chinese slums. Do I need my passport to go there?' The New Territories: 'Chinese rural squalor. Do I need my passport to go there, and must I have fresh vaccinations, too?' The Islander lives a voluntarily ghettoized existence; he's often the expat who, deep down, doesn't want to be here at all, and who makes no effort to jump out of the most deeply-worn grooves. The Islander may or may not be a Proper Englishman, or may hail from almost any other western country.

The Chameleon Guy expends enormous energy in 'going native'. To his credit, he speaks by far the best Cantonese of anyone on this list. He will certainly have a Hong Kong Chinese wife or girlfriend, and is likely to live in a remote New Territories village, where he teaches or works independently from home. He will have a singular passion for an obscure period in the evolution of Chinese pottery, or some such similar obsession. His intensity is admirable in the abstract, but can be a bit frightening in person.

The Batgung. He's come to Hong Kong on one whim or another, and before he can get back out again, he finds his heart shackled in the bonds of love to a beautiful Hong Kong girl. The rest of his body therefore must stay here too. Soon he finds that he's deeply interested in Hong Kong life, can sing snatches of Cantopop songs from memory, and enjoys stinky tofu. The most well-adjusted and freshest-smelling of all the expat types, he's also noted for his rugged good looks, quick wit, and warm feelings toward orphans and puppies . . . .