A Transient Place

Trip Start Feb 07, 2009
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Trip End Ongoing


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Sunday, November 15, 2009

The topic of departures has prompted me to update my traveler's tales. Hong Kong is a transient city in every respect. Buildings are erected and torn down daily. Construction and drilling are constant factors. My building is "old" at the ancient age of 10 years. If you find a good restaurant you’d better go back again soon,because before you realize it will likely be gone.This shifting character is also common amidst the expat community, with most persons coming in good faith with open minds and hearts and ambition to progress in a career or follow a lover (the latter being an incredibly common motivation I share, much to my surprise when I arrived 7months ago!).

No one is sure how long they’ll stay, which is an excellent reminder to live every day to the fullest, like it may be your last (in Hong Kong at least). This also explains why it’s so easy to make friends here; if you wait around to meet people you’ll: a.) be lonely and b.) quite possibly leave before you find any!

I have had 2 dear girlfriends depart in the past couple months. Sob, sob. Come to think of it, I’ve attended a farewell dinner for  someone just about every month since I arrived. And now there’s hushed conversation concerning just how long Daniel and I will be staying in Hong Kong after all. For those of you wishing to visit  this lovely metropolis and desiring a free place to crash, I urge you to plan accordingly in the near rather than long term…

Last night at dinner we had an entertaining conversation about this wacky place and its cultural nuances, which I’d like to share.

  1. ETIQUETTE
Honkies themselves are not shy to admit that a lifetime spent on an island with 7 million inhabitants has resulted in a population that is often blind to the presence of others. This is manifested most prominently in the MTR (subway), where the elderly are the worst offenders. They will jab their one good shoulder into your gut just to hop on before you. Do not be fooled by these grey-haired wee folk. They are tenacious. Secondly, I feel HK denizens need a course on umbrella etiquette.Contrary to popular practice, this item is not a weapon. As a tall girl in a short person’s world, I dread rainy days and the constant defense of eyes and neck I must maintain while walking on the street. I believe I’ve already mentioned the burping phenomenon, but hearing a cute girl belch in a public place without a follow up word continues to confound me. Table manners are also non-existent, and the more riotous noises such as slurping, etc. you can produce while eating, the better.

  1. PACE
Hong Kong is a city of impatient folks. When I arrived I couldn’t believe how when I stepped on an elevator, there was always a local posted near the keypad,trigger happy on the “close door” button. Each time someone gets on/off the lift, in fact, it’s the person nearest that button’s unspoken duty to push it right away. No time to spare. I found it humorous how when speaking with a Brazilian last night, he mentioned how ironic it seemed that in a Brazil, a Latin country with a notoriously loose interpretation of time and punctuality, this button doesn’t even exist on elevators!

  1. FASHION
It’s no coincidence that I was not the only girl who found herself confused on Halloween. This is quite a popular holiday here, with lots of local people getting dressed up (at least those who don’t adhere to strict Chinese beliefs about the spirit world-a topic for another day). Commuting through the city back home from work that day, I couldn’t help but wonder if some people really had costumes or if they were indeed making a deliberate fashion statement…? Make no mistake that HK people are bold with their apparel and people watching couldn’t be more fun. Did you know that sequins are now acceptable daytime wear in the office? I must be really out of tune. Oh, and a grown woman can actually wear sequined, Mickey Mouse adorned ballet flats with suits to work. That’s right Milan. You heard it here first.

  1. HIRED HELP (aka YA-YAs, AUNTIES)
Paying $40USD for 5 hours of deep cleaning a week is a treasure. Everyone I know has a hired helper at least 1day a week, even the many girls who don’t work. These God-sent women, usually Filipinos, are all over Hong Kong working and saving to send money home. I quote one girlfriend who’s succumbed to 5 days of help (and she doesn’t work): “It’s gotten so bad that I’ll drop things and not pick them up.” We are incredibly spoiled with this help, and the best part is,their assistance doesn’t stop at cleaning. They polish shoes, mend clothes,iron, cook, and even organize – there is truly no end to their domestic gifts.I was tickled pink when after the first time Trish was here I found my pantry and Tupperware cabinet totally redone, in a manner much better than I ever attempted myself! These women are also hired full time by families to tend their children, often living with them and teaching them English. What a blessing as a working Mommy!!

Well, more insights to come at a later point. In the meantime, enjoy the photos from our little Halloween, a Hong Kong music festival, and Daniel’s birthday trip.
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Comments

Julia B on

The elevator button concept cracks me up. Funny thing is they have the "close" button here in the U.S. but it is more of a symbolic thing as it never actually responds when pressed. My thought is someone added this technology to mess with all the impatient people.

I wish I could come visit but as you might have heard I am a little anchored to Austin right now. Hanging in there and staying positive as I have my own adventures, be it not nearly as exciting :)

Love you!

Aunt Kim & Uncle Bob - Louisiana on

Bandit:
Your adventures are inspiring to your cajun family. Although we will not be visiting you in Hong Kong, we love traveling along side via your blog. Take care of yourself! We miss you! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

JH on

Your blogs are the best! I love reading your comments.

bgoode98
bgoode98 on

Thanks everybody for the support and funny pass-alongs! Hope yours is a joyous holiday season and a prosperous New Year.

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