Hong Kong daily life

One of the challenges of living the expat life is getting used to day-to-day differences you can't really prepare for. Here we provide some thoughts on all the 'little things' that make daily life in Hong Kong so interesting -- and occasionally infuriating.

Mr Tall vs Bizarro Mr Tall!

You remember that original Star Trek episode where Jim, Bones and Spock are mysteriously transported into a parallel universe? Oh, sorry, that doesn’t narrow it down much. I mean the one where all the alterna-univerna-Trekkers have bad facial hair? Spock’s goatee? Now you know the one I mean.

I would like us to go on a little dimension-swapping trip of our own, where we will face the wrath of a disturbed and surly Mr Tall – a Bizarro Mr Tall, if you will – who’s seeing what one aspect of his life might be like if he didn’t live in Hong Kong . . . . Read more »

Hong Kong mortgage: Which is best, when to change.

I've just re-mortaged our flat, so while it's fresh in my mind here are some points to watch for. If this will be your first mortgage in Hong Kong, keep reading. If you already have a mortgage but it is over three years old, skip to the re-mortgaging section to make sure you're not missing out on some big savings. Read more »

Turn that air conditioner off/on?

‘It’s too hot in here, and I want the air conditioner on now!’

‘Actually, I’m comfortable with things the way they are.’

This conversation – which Mrs Tall and I had at 3:00 AM one morning in the third week of May – was unprecedented. It turned on its head our long-standing debate over sleeping temperature. For years, I’ve been the one who’s started whining for the air conditioner somewhere in March or so, whereas Mrs Tall’s been happy to wait until at least May.  Read more »

Where does Hong kong's air pollution come from?

Last month saw several articles in the media with headlines like:

Hong Kong producing most of its own pollution (AFP)

Local sources blamed for most air pollution woes (HK Standard)

If they are true, were earlier claims about regional pollution affecting us just a smokescreen? We’d certainly need to focus our efforts on reducing local sources of pollution, instead of those over the border. But if they’re wrong, we risk diverting people’s attention from the real source of the problem.

Unfortunately, they’re wrong.

 Read more »

Sea urchins at Deepwater Bay

If you're heading to Deepwater Bay at this time of year, you'd better take some waterproof shoes if you plan on paddling or swimming. Otherwise expect to spend the evening digging sea urchin spines out of your feet.

  Read more »

Buy better bulbs

Do you still have any of these in your house? Read more »

Car culture in Hong Kong?

A recent trip to the USA, the Los Angeles/Orange County area in particular, brought to mind some of the differences between living in a ‘car culture’ such as southern California, and a compact urban environment such as Hong Kong.

What are some of the signs that the LA area is the ultimate ‘car culture’? Read more »

Chinese medicine

Have you ever tried Chinese medicine? If you subscribe to the “the worse it tastes, the more good it does you” view of medicine, you’d expect miracles from some of the foul-smelling soups that get served up by Chinese doctors. Still, given that Hong Kong has the second longest life-expectancy in the world, it must be doing something right!

Even if you never visit a Chinese doctor, your stay in Hong Kong will still feel the influence of the Chinese medicine system. Your first encounter is likely to be when you notice the distinctive appearance of a medicine shop, or the smell from a herbal tea stall.  Read more »

Bus stops

Today’s article goes nowhere important. I offer no sweeping generalizations or insights, just a few snapshots of Hong Kong daily life, linked (tenuously, I admit!) by bus rides. Read more »

Understand Chinese names

When I first arrived in Hong Kong I'd regularly make mistakes with peoples' Chinese names. Here's the Batgung primer to help you do better ...
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