Little things we could do without

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We've written of the things we like, and Mr Tall notes the "gwai privilege", but you can't live here for long before thinking of a few things you wouldn't miss ...

Chau Dau Foo -- literally "smelly bean curd". It stinks ! I used to warn visiting friends that it smelled like dirty nappies (diapers). But having completed the first four weeks of life with Baby B, nappies don't even come close. The standard response to my grumbling about it is that gweilos eat cheese, and that is just as disgusting. Well, I think the smelly beancurd wins hands-down. If you eat cheese, only you and your wasitline need know about it. But with chau dau foo there's no escape -- the street vendor, his wok filled with oil that has been handed down through the generations, makes sure it is carefully placed to maximise the spread of its evil perfume. You can run, but you can't hide !

Mirrored Elevators -- I'd be happy to live in denial of my balding head (it doesn't look *that* bad from the front). Unfortunately, the mirrored walls and ceiling of the average HK lift means there's no ignoring the failing follicles. (To be accurate, they're falling, not failing -- they just seem to be migrating south to the ears, the true sign of middle-age !)

Written Chinese -- It's great to look at, but I can't see me having time to learn it -- it's frustrating to be illiterate when I normally love to read. The common message to people learning English is to read a newspaper or magazine regularly -- I remember doing that when learning French at school. Here, I get excited if I can recognise two characters next to each other.

HK Property Prices -- Our flat has lost over one million hong kong dollars in value since we bought it. If you're from out of Hong Kong, here's the sorry state of property prices, showing that soon property prices will be just 30% of their peak. And while we're on property, where else does your house start getting dangerously old and unsaleable once it reaches its fifteenth birthday ?

The Summer flora -- A public service announcement -- if you've just arrived in HK you'll want to take special attention to keeping things dry. That includes all your shoes & clothes, and you too. The humid weather combined with the local mould can make a pair of damp shoes look like fluffy slippers in just a few days. As for yourself, there's a good reason that the chinese name for "Athlete's foot" translates as "Hong kong foot". So take special care of your delicate bits, or you'll be off to the doctor before you can say "jock rot".

Sharp Elbows -- Yes, I know it's a busy, crowded town, but I still don't like getting elbowed in the ribs. Little old ladies and the MTR at rush-hour seem to be the worst combination.

Railings -- Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed this ? When I first came here, the "laissez-faire" that Hongkong is famous for extended to letting you decide where and when you wanted to step out in front of a bus (or more likely in front of a bicycle carrying a big bag of dead chickens, cycling the wrong way down the road. I digress...). Then sometime in the second half of the nineties, railings started sprouting up everywhere. Has there have been a government study that says we'll need a certain number of railings before we can truly be considered a world class city ? I see them when we're hiking too, in the oddest of places. Very strange.

Break and Burn -- This TV advert is just one of many local print & TV ads featuring already thin women talking about some magical potion that will supposedly make you slim. A little advice -- eat less, exercise more, and save your money. [Jan 06 update - the advert has been removed from their website - but there are plenty more where that came from.]

Whingeing Gweilos

Ahem, that'll be my cue to leave.