I went down to Hong Kong last week, just for a short holiday and to see some people. It’s always a funny feeling for me going there since that is my birthplace but I never grew up there.
I always have this ambiguous mindset of being in my “hometown” and speaking the local language, but not being part of local society. That aside, I was reminded again of how different HK and the mainland are when it comes to public behavior and rules. You’ve got cars and buses speeding along the roads and turns, but stopping right away if it’s a red. The subway (called MTR there) was crowded but you always get some private space as opposed to some guy standing right against or walking into you like in Beijing.
Of course, as good as it was, 6 days is long enough to stay in HK at a time. It is very crowded, much more so than Beijing, and some people are not necessarily pleasant, even if they have basic manners. I also experienced a HKer talking to me in bad Mandarin, despite my using Cantonese. I went up to a security guard inside a tower to ask for directions in Cantonese and the guy spoke to me in Mandarin, probably taking me for a mainlander. Though I spoke in Cantonese, he persisted in Mandarin. Not only was his Mandarin bad but he was wrong about the directions.
It is also a bit unnerving to be in a crowd of people and see most of them talking, moving and dressing in almost the same way. Perhaps Taiwan is similar but the effect is not as pronounced. It’s little things like these that make me feel that creativity and innovation cannot be a strong HK quality.
In some ways, HK can be a bit quaint like when buying a pair of HK$13 adapters at a local electronics store, they had to print out a form, which is their standard invoice, as opposed to just a simple receipt.
While I went to different places, I didn’t encounter much mainlanders, and I did not see much parallel traders, who buy things like milk powder, medicine and cosmetics in HK and take them back to the mainland to sell, walking around with their suitcases.
Old apartments above, while opposite the street is a gleaming mall office tower below, Mongkok, Kowloon
The new ferris wheel in Central, right by the ferry pier
Bun mountain display at HK history museum. For the Bun festival, a major Taoist festival, participants scramble up these “towers” of buns to get buns from the highest levels. A incident in 1978 in which over 100 were injured by the collapse of one tower caused authorities to modify the festival to make it safer.