Hong Kong, a city of more than 7 millions of people, is enchanting. There are shops and restaurants everywhere on the streets, buildings are sky-high while space is very little. It’s one of the most important financial centers in Asia and in the world. People speak Cantonese and English. But what exactly do Hong Kong people love to do as a Hong Konger? Read on, but don’t take it too seriously. This is not a summary of Hong Kong’s culture at large, just some random views.
Love, love, love eating
If there’s one thing that all Hong Kongers love universally, it’s eating. Food culture is an essential element of living in Hong Kong. There are restaurants everywhere in the city – cheap or expensive; Asian or Western cuisine; trendy or grandma style. We’ve got everything here.
If a Japanese ramen restaurant is covered in a food magazine, be prepared to queue for 2 hours for a bowl of ramen while being allowed to only eat there for 20 minutes (if you’re lucky to get a seat), or end up not being able to eat that bowl of ramen at all because the restaurant says everything is sold out for the day.
If you’re running out of topics in a strange conversation with a stranger, talking about food will save you.
If you find yourself alone with another colleague late in the office and are still working with no hope of knowing when to eat for dinner, talking about food will help you break the ice (assuming you never talked to that colleague before).
If you’re sharing deals and promotions with your friends but your favorite restaurant isn’t on the list, that isn’t called a Good Deal.
If a credit card company luring you to apply for your new card there but it doesn’t include a deal of 15% off for your favorite restaurant, then you probably won’t apply for that card.
Sometimes you hear some food enthusiast friends of yours bragging about “oh I know the chef, need me to find a window table for you?” or “yeah that place is for members only. And I’m a MEMBER!”, then you know your tummy will be the happiest tummy in the world.
Which brings us to understand why Hong Kongers…
Have a complicated relationship with gymming
Hong Kongers either don’t exercise (think of the skinny HK girls who eat only apple or salads, or nothing for three meals a day), or if they do, they get crazy on looking for the perfect gym membership because there are just so many good restaurants around town and there are new restaurants opening every week! How can you resist eating?
What HKers usually do is to…
Enroll in gym memberships, usually taking a 12-month or 24-month fixed contract because the salesperson is so persuasive in making you believe that you will be the most wonderfully-looking and healthiest person in the world after a few months of workout.
Enroll in another (perhaps smaller) gym because this one specializes in jazz dance.
Enroll in another yoga studio program.
Only to realize that the yoga studio program is part of the package in gym contract no. 1 mentioned above.
And after 2 months of workout, you become “more busy at work” and “not having time to go to gym anymore” but forget to cancel the gym membership or you can’t cancel anymore because it’s a fixed contract for 24 months. Oops.
Work a lot
Complaining about working too much and earning too little while the only thing to do after passing 6pm isn’t leaving the office but staying and checking Facebook because the boss hasn’t left yet.
Work a lot during vacations.
Work at late hours during vacations (after some cocktails by the pool and a beach-side barbecue dinner, maybe) so that his/her co-workers would know that he/she works really hard.
Complaining about working too much during vacations. On the plane back to Hong Kong, taking photos of the beautiful Hong Kong night sky and later post on Facebook writing “Back to the beautiful 852 [smiley]”.
Shop a lot
Hong Kong has a strong shopping culture too, apart from the food culture. Retail is a big business sector here, and tourism retail sales is one of the most important pillars for Hong Kong’s economy.
Wherever we travel, we go shopping and we shop a lot.
Hong Kongers love traveling to Europe because the good thing about traveling to Europe is to buy those beautiful handbags with a good price and get tax refunds afterwards. This is no surprise that Hong Kongers master the art of getting tax refunds at all the major international airports in Europe. If you can’t use all the bags, you can always sell them and make a fortune.
And you better buy multiple handbags because you don’t get on a 12-hour flight to Europe every week. Buy more so that you can keep using them forever! Then you find a good travel package for Europe a year after and do the same thing, and you end up having so many handbags. Then you try to sell them at second-hand store like Milan Station, only to be told that the handbags you bought are seasonal styles (opposite: classic style) that were only trending for three months a couple of years before, so they offer a pretty sh#tty price to buy your handbags, which gives you a negative ROI eventually.
Just exaggerating here – of course Hong Kongers also enjoy traveling to discover history, culture, people’s lives, and food, and SHOPPING.
Property, property, property
One of the most important life goals is to own property, as Hong Kong is such a small place with so many people. Since there are way more mountains than flat lands in Hong Kong and lots of immigrants flock in everyday and overseas retail outlets all want to set their footstep here, this drives the property prices up tremendously. Now, having your own property is everyone’s dream. This dream isn’t as easily achieved as a few decades ago, but what’s the point of having a dream anyways if it’s so easy to attain?
“You have to have your own apartment before you get married”.
“You’re renting it? Why do you burn you money that way? I would never throw my money into the sea! You should buy one and spend your money on mortgage!” (This is very Hong Kong)
“No no, I’m just renting it, it’s not my own apartment”. (Saying in a way that obviously everyone knows it’s your own apartment, feeling a little proud inside)
When I meet with my local friends, they would spend hours on talking about property market, new developments, price fluctuations and rental market condition. Everyone seems to be an expert in property (while I have no clue about it). Jealousy emerges when one friend can’t afford to buy a small apartment while another already owns two and rents them out to finance for the mortgage.
I do agree with the notion of having a property of your own makes you feel more secure and easier to build a family, but I just can’t give up on shoes.
Doing whatever possible to cut the queuing time. Queuing in one line while relentlessly observing if the other queues happen to become shorter and prepare to jump to the shortest queue. But only after 5 seconds the HKer realizes that that shortest queue is no longer the shortest because the cashier machine is running out of paper or an angry housewife at the front of the queue is complaining about overcharging on her buy-one-get-one-free detergents.
Sometimes I find myself doing the same thing above too. But this could be fun! These are very general, though. If you observe anything else, feel free to share with me through comments!