A city of just slightly over 1,100 square kilometer where almost 7.2 million people reside, you’ve got to be very efficient to live in Hong Kong.
People walk fast on the streets; cars honk everywhere to stop others from getting into their ways; food is served in light speed during peak hours. These are just a few general observations. But the most efficient moments among all, are the following moments (and I’m sure you’ve been at least one in a Hong Kong movie).
- Quick lunch or no lunch
During lunch hours in Central district, it’s a nightmare to get a table at local eateries. This kind of eateries is called tea restaurant (or Cha Caan Tang in Cantonese). They’re cheap, delicious and authentic. The way they survive is prosper is to serve a lot.If you’re lucky to get a table with your buddy, be sure you know what you want before you order or the staff would walk away to take other customers’ orders instead of waiting another 10 seconds before you make up your mind. And once you’ve ordered and your dish is about to come, don’t be surprised by the way the staff delivers your food. If you’re lucky the staff only slams your dish in front of you, or if you aren’t the dish would arrive like a frisbee thrown in from the kitchen 20 meters away. After 10 minutes before you even finish your food, the staff would attempt to take it away (translation: time to go!). At the end of the meal you realize that you have queued for half an hour and sat there for 15 minutes only.
- Multi-tasking during commute
Hong Kongese work very hard and stay up till very late. We’re not used to waking up early. So whatever things you miss doing in exchange for sleeping time, you do it on the way back to your office in the morning.It’s very common to see office ladies doing makeup at the subway, turning the face from “before” to “after” in a 5-minute train ride, or a TV-drama fanatic who tries to catch up from the episodes he misses after going to bed at 3:00am the night before. That’s the art of multi-tasking.
- Unexpected official checks
When the police makes an unscheduled visit on shops selling pirated products (this kind of shops are especially concentrated in some small malls in Mong Kok), all you hear is either an awkward silence or a messenger shout in coded language, followed by a series of iron-gate-slamming-on-the-floor sounds and then all shops are completely closed in 3 seconds. By the time the officers arrive at that troubled floor, they see nothing. Sometimes I wonder would the shops lock customers inside?Or for restaurant owners, when officers from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department might perform a snap check on your restaurant on a random Friday evening during your prime serving time, you would better make sure that your kitchen staff are full on hygienic gear, no cigarettes and cockroaches around the sink (even if there are, hide them away immediately). And you must get this all done in 30 seconds while the manager is still chit-chatting with the officers about the weather at the front door.Or worse, the officers go checking on the streets in areas full of hawkers without a license. I’m a big fan of street food. I once saw a few white-shirt guys coming to those hawkers from far away, and within a minute all hawkers ran away (with their food cart!). You could hear the collective sounds of food carts’ wheels rolling while occasionally the curry-fish-ball sauce would spill on the floor from a fast-moving cart.
- Late night minibuses
The fastest land transportation means in Hong Kong isn’t taxi, but minibus, especially the red minibus. Red minibuses don’t have a fixed route, it’s up to the drivers to take any roads as long as the passengers are taken to where they want to go. The faster they drive, the more trips they can make and therefore more fares to collect.Remember those minibuses that park at the bottom of Lan Kwai Fong on Queen’s Road Central? That’s the one that get all the party-goers to Kowloon. I once took that to go to Mong Kok to have late desserts at around 2:00am. During the ride, whenever the minibus went down on small slopes, I can now personally guarantee that your butt would be flying in the air. A ride that would take normally 20 minutes was achieved in 8 minutes. Efficient, huh?
- Fast response to latest gadget release
Hong Kongers are obsessed with the latest trends and fancy gadgets. Whenever there is new release for smartphones or limited edition sneakers, people would go crazy. You see your colleagues all stay on their desk during lunch time and hit on pre-order webpages a thousand times to bid for the latest iPhone. If chances are slim, they quickly register for new accounts by using the name of that cousin they don’t talk to anymore in the hope of increasing the chance of getting a piece. You must make sure you type very fast and have all your details ready to not waste a nano second before your counterparts take your gadget away.When they finally get hold of the new gadget, they hang around the Apple Store nearby to look for buyers or relentlessly sell online to make a quick profit. In a city without sales tax and import duties for most of the products, there are so much you can get to take advantage of that. And Hong Kongers wouldn’t miss such opportunity.
These are the efficient moments that I’ve observed or heard from my friends. It might be a bit exaggerating but the spirit of being fast and efficient is definitely deep-rooted in every Hong Konger’s mind.
(Photo source: Mashable.com)