Thursday, September 3, 2009

Random details about Hong Kong that will likely bore the living smack right out of you.

  • Because we went over the North Pole on the flight from Newark to Hong Kong, they had us shut our windows to simulate night.  Then, of course, we arrived in Hong Kong after dark, which effectively meant we had a 21-hour night.  I’m sure that really helped settle our stomachs.
  • The fancier Hong Kong restaurants have two sets of chopsticks on the table:  a black pair for serving food from the dishes to your plate, and a white pair for eating food off your plate.  This system has only been around since the outbreak of SARS a few years back.  Lower-end restaurants just give you one pair of chopsticks and let you get sick and die. 
  • It’s easier to get through Hong Kong customs than it is to get into the Hong Kong Institute of Education pool.
  • The mango juice we buy for the kids (orange juice is too expensive) has tiny cubes of transparent coconut at the bottom. 
  • The Walt Disney Princess Play Kitchen that a neighbor loaned us for the kids contains a whole bunch of fake food, including a plastic squid. 
  • Yesterday at the market I saw a woman wearing a t-shirt that said:  “Danger:  Asbestos.  Do not remove without proper training and equipment.”
  • The man who came to repair our curtain rod the other day—a tough, wiry old rooster, with a ragged shirt and bow-legs—was barefoot but carried a cell-phone.  I thought this was a wonderful little paradoxical detail, until I followed him to the door and saw his red crocs sitting in the hall.
  • Two-thirds of the world's population is within a 5-hour flight of Hong Kong.  
  • The elevators here have clear plastic sheets over the buttons.  These sheets are changed every few days. 
  • If a Hong Konger and a mainland Chinese person are abroad, and someone asks where they are from, a fight will break out if the Hong Konger identifies him or herself as Hong Kongese rather than Chinese.
  • All mini-buses have a sign that reads “Ring bell when leaving bus.”
  • Last week at lunch, one of my colleagues asked me if the chickens were big in the U.S.  I said yes they were, mainly because we pumped them full of steroids and chemicals.  She pointed at the chicken in front of us and said, “This chicken is small, but still filled with chemicals.”
  • 70% of Hong Kongers employ live-in help.  
  • The doorbells here are incredibly elaborate.  We have a neighbor whose bell plays, “Hava Nagila.” 
  • At lunch, my colleagues pour tea in a bowl, then wash all of their utensils in it before eating.  
  • Australians refer to themselves as Aussies, to New Zealanders as Kiwis, and to Hong Kongers as Honkese.  I am not making this up. 
  • If you go to the main website for Hong Kong beaches, you’ll see that the # symbols signifies beaches with shark protection nets. 
  • Bald, semi-fat white men are considered the epitome of attractiveness in Hong Kong.  Go figure.  
  • The little girl a few doors down spends her Saturday mornings at drawing lessons, then her Saturday afternoons at English lessons. 
  • Most native Hong Kongers have English names in addition to their Chinese names.  Often times these names are given at birth by the parents.  Other times, they pick the names themselves when they start school.  My colleague June picked hers because that was the month she was born.  My boss Anita picked hers because it was the first one on the list.  I’m not sure what the story is with my friend Dick.  

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