We've already covered off our likes and dislikes, but what about all the other stuff that gives this place its hongkongness ? Stuff like ...

- middle-aged men on a warm sunny day with their vest rolled up around their middle

- eating in a restaurant that is noisier than a primary school playground

- new shops that sit empty for days, then two days before they open an impossibly large number of workers descend on it and turn it into something shiny and new

- those market stalls with strings of super-extra-padded bras. (Ladies, keep in mind the saying that you shouldn't go making a mountain out of a molehill)

- the Star Ferry, Peak, the view of HK from the TST waterfront, and all the other touristy stuff that you remember how great it is when you've got visitors in town

- the paper-thin white cotton shoes that are acceptable footwear for everything from games of football to work on the construction site

- flowers outside even the smallest new shop on opening day

- muscular young men with a suntan, pink rubber gloves, and an apparent deathwish as they construct bamboo scaffolding outside some eleventh floor appartment

- having a group of people stand and watch you eating your dimsum, because they've decided you're the most likely group to be paying up and leaving in the next 30 minutes

- the inability of office ladies to visit the bathroom alone... "Yat chai hoi chi soh, ho m ho ?"

- being on the train from the Shatin racetrack on a racing day, full of men with their radio plugged in one ear, staring at their papers silently until there's a collective groan as the next race finishes

- Freddy the weatherman

- those wierd artificial-pink coloured fish-flavoured sausages

- punching the lift door buttons woodpecker-style til the door closes (and going back to your home country, getting into the lift, and thinking WHY DOESNT ANYONE PRESS THE BUTTON???)

- eating with your mouth open, spitting bones on the tablecloth, then daintily covering your mouth while the serious toothpick excavations go on

Any more ?



-Wet markets where the the local produce is killed or sliced and diced in front of you. Also, you try to hand over the exact amount in cash since the fishmonger and butcher like to return back notes with a generous smattering of water or blood.

- Minibus drivers who drive as if they took driving lessons via their Nintendo Gameboy.

- Harbour Fireworks celebrations and 100K people saying "WAAAAAAHHHHH!!!" in unison.

- Beauty Pagents where the MCs take the time to take the piss out of the contestants (Especially if their Catonese isn;t great). Of course, if you win you might begin a career in TV or end up a rich businessman's trophy girlfriend or wife.

- Smelly Bean Curd...no need to explain. But thankfully, a rarity now.

- Tabloid papers with the murder/accident pictures on the front page. I'm talking real close-up here!

- Best designed airport in the region.

- RedBean doughnuts! Not JAM as I would have expected

- Tai Chi OAPs who can bend and stretch better than me.

Keep the thread going....


- waving goodbye by opening/closing your hand like having a handpuppet
on it (hard to describe)

- not drinking the tea in restaurants but washing your chopsticks in it

- waiter is smoking while serving you

- never opening or holding doors in public places (as if they're
contaminated),instead wait until someone else holds it for you and
slip thru

- start almost every sentence with 'so' or 'actually'

- 'value added services'


the inability to use a tissue despite the fact they are given away

the deification of Hello Kitty, CK Siu, Boding Gau, et al

Fantastic fung Jau (chickens feet)

being lucky enough to have a spare seat next to you on a bus (if you are a westerner)

The great taxis

janitors, doormen and security guards, happy, smiling and helpful


Wearing a scarf and ear muffs when its 20 degrees celsius

Hongkong oddities

- Arriving at Hong Kong airport and feeling like a transit tourist because you still have to travel a lot more before you reach Hong Kong!

- Trying to enter MTR/KCR trains [subway trains] when everyone inside the compartment has decided to stand in the doorway and block your entry [despite there being ample space down the aisles]!

- Wondering why the place is called "Asia's World City" when the stupid cabbie [Taxi driver] does not understand a word of your English instructions?!?

- Balancing yourself in a break dance when the public transport bus driver has decided to stop or start *suddenly* [just when you are heading for the stairs (double decker) or the door].

- Trying to enter or exit a carpark entrance where you doubt that the narrow passage way is *deliberately* designed to scratch or bump your car!

- Focusing like a pilot while navigating your trolley [cart] through narrow and crowded super market aisles. While at the same time being careful that you do not injure the baby piled on top of the groceries in a trolley [cart] coming from the opposite direction...


There is some great stuff in this thread! I have just a couple to add at present:

The smell of a Chinese temple: 50% burning joss sticks/incense, 25% dust, 20% jasmine and other flowers, and 5% sweaty temple attendant.

The English names! Just this morning at work I had an email from a colleague named 'Brenther' who's handing over her duties to 'Czarina'! Maybe this should be an entirely separate thread . . . .


- Hailing a taxi using a really limp wrist action. Don't knock it...it does work!!

- Junk trips..love em!

- Dai Pai Dongs...the food is cheap and tasty. Though ensure you have a cast iron gut or kill the germs with plenty of beer.

- Hong Kong Action films. Especially using handguns which don;t seem to run out of bullets

- MTR sprint challenges. Go to NorthPoint MTR and watch the people run from train to train as they interchange trains. At least you can exercise while using public transport!

:wink: :wink:


- Men who only need to shave once a month, and then "shave" with a couple of one-dollar coins.

- Those big brown eagles sailing past your office window. (Where do they live ? What do they eat ?)

- Schoolchildren with book-filled backpacks that are as big (and twice as heavy) as they are.

- Men who turn lobster-pink after half a pint of beer, but who pour glasses of cognac as if they are serving tea.


We're apartment hunting, so I'm obsessed with real estate and associated themes:

Knowing the size of your apartment to the nearest five square feet.

Knowing the size of everyone else's apartment to the nearest five square feet.

Standing on tiptoe, body bent into a right angle between the kitchen sink and fridge, to catch a glimpse of a two-inch sliver of Victoria Harbour between forty storey buildings and thinking you have 'oean views'.

940 square feet in Lam Tin for HK$3.5 million seems reasonable.

Real estate agents ringing you at 11.00pm.

Looking at the 'last transaction price' for an apartment and really getting what the Asian crash meant ($8.8 million in mid-1997 now going for $4.0).

Having to add on at least $200,000 to any property price for renovation (almost mandatory). Most apartments will be gutted and refitted by new owners.

Serious discussions over how much space can be gained for the living room by closing in a balcony that anywhere else would house a few dead pot plants at best.

Thinking that anything past HKU on Pokfulam Road is the outback (when it only takes 20 minutes by mini-bus to get to Central).

The impossibility of securing a mortgage on a building over 20 years old for a decent repayment period. Banks expect loans for older buildings to be paid back in about two years rather than twenty.

Old buildings are way more efficient (if the advertisement says 1500 square feet it will probably be around 90 per cent efficient). New buildings have rooms shaped like things my daughter makes out of play dough, doors that hit the toilet seat and thus don't allow residents into the bathroom, and a single pool to cater for the population of 2,000 apartments in 12 towers. An 850 square foot apartment will probably be more like 550 of actual floor space.

Names like "Elite Tower" and "Tycoon Court" sound strangely appealing.

Rooftops with illegal structures. Every rooftop...

"Chinese building" means "no lift".

Walking from apartment to apartment with your real estate agent rather than driving, taking a taxi, or catching buses.


Not being surprised that the swimming pool in your building is about the size of a large bathtub and it's closed from September to May anyway because "it's too cold too swim then" (i.e. it's under 25 degrees C!) and then they close it at 8pm, so you have almost no chance to have a swim after a long day at work.

Knowing that Cheese is a strange and exotic foodstuff and you have to pay a fortune for it.


Just one this time: going out to a low-end local eating establishment that does variations on western food, i.e. a 'restaurant' in the local parlance, and always having to choose between the 'red soup' and the 'white soup' as your first course. By the way, if you're new to this eating style, ALWAYS choose the red soup. The white soup is nearly always just flour, water and msg. If you're lucky you get some kernels of canned corn or maybe a shred of fake crab meat. The red soup is usually some variation of vegetable soup or borscht that is guaranteed to reacquaint you with the vegetables from many days past.


Oh, and in response to Stephen's property-oriented offerings:

Coming out of an MTR exit near a new housing development and promptly being mobbed by ravenous estate agents!

(PS to Stephen: actually, 3.5 M/940 f2 in Lam Tin sounds pretty high -- is that Laguna, Sceneway, high floor?)


You're correct, Mr T. That should have read $[b]2[/b].5 million, although you can pay up to $3.3 for 930' for a high floor in Sceneway. I was getting a bit carried away there...

Speaking of swarms of real estate agents, do you recall the story from last year when agents actually rolled up their sleeves and duked it out at one of the new estates (I can't think which one it was now)? Walking into a swarm of a 100 real agents at the entrance to a residential block is a pretty intimidating experience, let alone when they start punching each other in an effort to gain your custom.

We're still looking, by the way, and I'm sure by the end of year will have bought something - though not in Laguna.


- "Copy Watch ? Rolex ? Cartier ?"

- "Sir, you need tailor ? Make you nice suit, shirt ?"

- "Hey Mister ! You take a look - happy hour, have one beer"

- "Oh Sir, you have a lucky face. [Pulling out blurry photo of a row of Indian men with long hair and beards...] This is me with my guru. I tell your fortune ?"

Should we run a "Name that Street" contest for the above ?

Then there's also the "Thankyouwelcome" type of run-together English. Usually heard from a shop assistant that has learned all the common English phrases the company has taught them, but errs on the side of safety by using them all at once at all times.



- A place where MTR commuters extend their feet while sitting even when the train is crowded so that no one can stand in front of them.

- A place on earth where MSG (Mono Sodium Glutomate) is cheaper than salt, that's why many restaurants use it for salt replacement.

- They believe landscape of buildings which erected like male organ instead of mountains and seas, is what it takes to build a world class city that attracts tourists.

- Cockroaches or the locals call them "little Keungs" crawling around your table and feet while you are eating in a fast food mall at night before it closed.

Street names

Rednaxela Terrace between Caine Road and Robinson Road

Alexander spelled backwards....apparently someone read right to left


- On the mobile phone for at least 10-20 minutes.

- When one phone rings on the MTR, about half the people check if it's their phone ringing.

- Extremely silly ringtones which try to emulate a theme song from Enter the Dragon.

- Modified cars - especially vans or those "space wagon" i.e Tarago types vehicles which can carry more than 5 people.

- Taxis with either Yellow, Blue or Red mudflaps.

- Octopus ("bat dat tong" or "doot" in cantonese)

- Minivans

That's all I can think of for now.

Hong Kong TV Ads

Some strange local ads:

"Sun Tai Tai" [which means new wife!]

Should we throw away our old one then?

"Everyday a new face" [Some beauty cream probably called Lanegie or something like that]

These folks must be kind to those who get caught by their wife while sleeping with someone else.

Oh honey, I thought you had a new face?!?

"Lai kam yat cho jo meiya?" [Translated, it means "Have you done it today?"]

The whole family including kids ask this question to each other.

Somehow sounds like everyone in the family is asking each other if they had sex today?

And yes you guessed it. This advertisement is by the brilliant Hong Kong government PR department and talking about cleanliness [related to SARS].


- Hair dyed jet black at Chinese New Year, but then grey roots growing ever-longer for the next 12 months

- Someone old enough to be your Granny rifling through rubbish bins for empty drink cans, and pushing heavy carts of rubbish along the street :(

- Ladies holding hands with ladies

- Men walking along with a hand on each others' shoulders

[quote]Octopus ("bat dat tong" or "doot" in cantonese) [/quote]
- Similar to the "doot" above :
"ding", to cook something in a microwave
"ding-ding", a Tram

- Those Grandpas who've realised that if you take your pyjamas off in the morning you're only going to have to put them on again at night. They've since decided to avoid the hassle by wearing them all day long, whether at home or out on the street

- The fingernail on one pinky left long for ear-inspection duties



Thunk !

The schoolgirl sitting in front of me on the bus last night fell off her seat with a crash after falling asleep. I thought that belonged in this thread - how Hongkong people can fall asleep at the drop of a hat.

Think of the local bus services as flotation tanks for stressed-out hong-kongers. Pop them on a bus for more than ten minutes, and the reduced levels of stimulation will have those eyes closing. If it's happening to the person sitting next to you, you'll know it when you feel a growing weight against your shoulder as they slip deeper into sleep.

It's not just the buses either. Next time you're on the ferry to Macau, take a look around you about half way through the journey. The local people will be split 50-50 between snacking or sleeping, while the western visitors will almost all be reading...



If you found a dead cockroach in your bowl of soup, leave it and dont drink it. Exchanging will do no good as its still comes out from same pot of soup (or just be scooped away) . Restaurant owner would suggest additional insect protein in diet would be benefitial.

Before taking a dump anywhere, always check restroom conditions, and prepare yourself with tissue paper. Otherwise you may need to call for help.


- Highest concentration of SevenEleven Minimarkets per square kilometer in the world!!! Where I lived we had 4 of them in the same street.

- Evolution of napkins in the cheaper restaurants:

First, napkins were given for free along with each meal...

then, to cut costs, napkins were no longer provided. Customers were expected to bring their own napkins or tissues...

finally, a later generation of restaurant owners started noticing that customers would often forget to bring their tissues to the restaurant. As a great extra service to their customers, tissue packs can now be purchased directly at the restaurant!

HK business sence at its best! :D


how about the matchstick men and women. not from the film. every one is anorexically thin there! its like, i cant find shoes or clothes in my size! im glad i moved away in that sense...

and what is with the girls clasping each others hands when walking in the street. i seen linking arms and thats ok. but talk about getting jiggy...


Playing dodgems with real estate agents as you drive into a shopping centre to do some shopping which happens to have show flat inside.

Thinking that going camping requires renting a flat on an outlying island

Believing that any place without street lighting is unnatural

Thinking that a church is a more likely place to meet a boyfriend or girlfriend than any where else.

Lining up for 3 hours for an hour to eat yumcha on Sundays

People who wash their chopsticks because their dirty and then stick their fingers up their noses whilst their chatting with you.

MV or SV ?

Buying property in a new country means a whole new set of abbreviations to learn. Out with the "Det. Des. Res." that you admired in the UK (you can't afford one here anyway), and time to start deciding whether you want your flat with MV or SV.

MV is optimistically referred to as "Mountain View", but in most places it means you'll be staring at the wall of a neighbouring tower block. So having decided we wanted a flat with SV (sea view), should we go for FSV or PSV ? ("Full" or "Partial" of course, keeping up ?)

As part of the mass of trivia that property agents hold in their heads, we were immediately told that only flats above the 15th floor would have an FSV.

We purchased flat 20C and admired our FSV for a year or so, only to see an ominous yellow crane peep over the top of a building lower down the hill. In Hong Kong it's only a matter of time before a building in front of you gets knocked down, and a new block twice the height sprouts in its place. Even a seafront property is no guarantee, as one morning you'll open the curtains to find a reclamation barge setting up for work.

Sure enough, our FSV is now a PSV...



We decided to call what our flat has a OSV - Occassional Sea View.

About 5 times a year, the humidity is low, yet the pollution isn't too bad, and we can see the sea from our flat and rooftop.


OSV--you're on a roll today, Lohpoh. Maybe today is one of those days? It's so nice it feels like a curse has been lifted after that rotten weekend.

Anyway, I was going to mention that chez Tall has a combination sea/mountain view; it's currently unobstructed and very pretty. But our building just posted the latest government plan for the area: it looks as if somewhere down the road we're going to have a BV instead, i.e. a bridge view. Hmmm. Better than a tower block, worse than the South China Sea.

Now, for a couple of other hongkongness items:

Is it only me, or has anyone else noticed that almost all HK bike riders (except for the really really serious ones who wear the funny tight clothes) leave their seats at the lowest possible setting, thereby increasing to the maximum the angle their legs must assume while pedaling? This is both inefficient and uncomfortable, but this practice is so common here it's even repeated in the gym, on the exercise bikes!

Another ubiquity in HK is the 'where are you' mobile phone conversation:

A: "Where are you?"

B: "I'm coming out of exit B3 from the MTR station, but I'm only about a third of the way up the escalator yet; no, wait, now that I've taken the time to make that utterly inane statement, I'm at least halfway up; scratch that, my feet are now being ground to bloody shreds by the grille at the top of the escalator since I'm incapable of talking on my phone while effectively coordinating my lower appendages . . . . "

And speaking of mobile phones, how about those moments in certain HK clubs that ban the use of mobile phones, in which you, a lowly guest, have forgotten to turn off your phone, only of course to have it ring as the patrons, staff, and no doubt the very universe itself frown upon you as you fumble to turn it off?


- Never being more than an hour's travel away from anybody in Hong Kong. No excuse not to catch up with family and friends!

- Paying less than HK$3 to commute on one of the world's most famous and most scenic forms of public transport, the Star Ferry.

- The dedicated, block-long queues outside MacDonalds for people wanting to buy Happy Meals to collect the Snoopy/Disney toys.

- The amazing crowd control that is the HK-Shenzhen immigration check-point at Lo Wu MTR. I wouldn't attempt going through this by yourself for the first time though ... it's quite a shock to see 100s of people pouring out of the trains, sprinting to be first in the queue and crammed into the confined immigration area. It felt more like a refugee escape route ...

- Word of mouth about new restaurants/cafes/shops/bars/clubs that spread faster than in any other place.

- Being able to use your mobile on the MTR - what a miracle! Coming back to London for a visit, I couldn't even call my friend to let her know that I would be late as the Circle line underground train had broken down.

- Chinese barbeques where you each get your own exceedingly long barbeque fork with which you use to cook your own food, instead of having one nominated "chef" who slaves over the grill cooking for everyone.

- Men who slide into their MTR seats and hide behind their newspapers to pretend not to notice the tired granny/grandpa/heavily pregnant lady who is standing right next to them without a seat.

- Young Chinese men who help to carry their girlfriend's handbags ... by wearing it on their shoulders. Yes, the Christian Dior saddlebag was quite last season, Sir.

- Going to a restaurant/cafe and having to share a table ("daap toy") with 2 other couples that you don't know, who don't exchange a single word with each other during the entire meal.

- Being able to check out the dimsum on the trollies before ordering.

- Shouting "My stop!" on the minibuses - and getting a practically door-to-door service.


And another:

- Catching hypothermia in the cinema theatres. Why does the air conditioning always feel like its on zero degrees?


The Paisley-fairy : When Chinese ladies get to a certain age (I'm not sure exactly when, but I'd guess around 65), the paisley fairy visits them in their dreams and sprinkles paisley dust on their pillow. The awake with a sudden realisation that there are few patterns as magical, and head off to the shops to buy a neat little two-piece paisley suit.

Piano Practice : if you leave your windows open, it won't be long before you'll hear children in the surrounding flats start their music practice. Piano's the favourite, but there are also a couple of scratchy violins nearby and for a bit of variety we've got a doleful french horn started up recently. It can be tough to start with while they murder the same song over and over, but in our last flat the student in the flat above got so good I looked forward to their practice time.



Back to flats.

We used to have a harbour view from our flat but some bright spark from the Governement decided to build a baseball ground some 300 metres, as the crow flies, from our flat.

We now have a harbour AND FLOODLIGHT view. Is someone really thinking :roll: when you start placing 30M high floodlights that face directly into a private housing estate !! ?