Friday, December 4, 2009

Random things your mother would rather you didn't know about Hong Kong

  • You know you’re in a Hong Kong meeting when everyone sits down and you hear Ka-chunk!  Ka-chunk!  Ka-chunk! going around the table.  The current fashion in HK women’s watches appears to be large-bejeweled watches with a masculine, oversized design.  What you hear is the sound of every woman in the room un-strapping this behemoth from her wrist and depositing it on the table top.
  • In Hong Kong, phone numbers have 8 digits.  As far as I can tell, there are no area codes.  But you know what?  I’m surprised every day. 
  • Chinese vampires hop.
  • Mandarin and Cantonese use the same written form, which consists of, more or less 5,000 characters.  The assumption is that a child needs to know 1500 characters to read a simple book.  Because learning these are so difficult, literacy in China comes  roughly 2 years later than in other languages. 
  • When you go into a men’s bathroom in Hong Kong, you’ll find three kinds of, um, disposal systems:  urinals, western sit-down toilets, and squat holes. 
  • There are 56 ethnic minorities in mainland China.  In Hong Kong, there are native Hongkongers, Filipino helpers, gweilos, and gweipos. 
  • You can have McDonalds delivered in Hong Kong.  The delivery people drive around on little red motorcycles, with red storage boxes on the back that bear the phone number of the local Mickey D’s, and the word, “McDelivery.”
  • I struggle with breakfast in any country—very little appeals to my taste buds at that time of day.  But I struggle even more in Asia, where almost anything counts as breakfast:  runny congee with chicken, steamed bread, plain, or filled with egg-y custard, oily noodles with mushrooms, or tuna fish sandwiches. 
  • You’d think that the views in Hong Kong clear up when the weather cools off, but actually, the opposite happens.  When winter comes, the winds stop blowing in from the sea, and blow down from the north instead—bringing pollution from the mainland with it. 
  • The MTR, Hong Kong’s rail system, transports 4.1 million passengers a day. 
  • The carbon footprint of the average Hongkonger is 80% of what it is for a member of the European Union, and one-third of the footprint for an American
  • In Hong Kong, when you hand someone your business card, you hold it with both hands.  Generally it’s presented with a small bow as well.  And when you accept a card, you do not simply stuff it in your wallet.  Instead, you look at it, then place on the table in front of you.  It would have been nice had someone told me this three months ago. 
  • Chinese Universities generally require @170 credits to graduate as opposed to the typical US requirement of @120.  Of these 170, 60-70 are for courses in “Political Education.” 
  • Everyone in Hong Kong—everyone:  grandmothers, judges, wine connoisseurs, two-day old infants—knows how to spin a pen by flicking across the top of your hand.  And they do it.  Regularly. 
  • Amongst the official-type people who develop probability models for Hong Kong, there is only one point of absolute consensus:  a Pandemic, similar to the 2004 SARS outbreak or worse, will strike Hong Kong again. 
  • Since 1979, the average yearly temperature in Hong Kong has risen by .27 degrees Celsius per decade. 
  • Hong Kong yoghurt tastes better than US yoghurt.  It’s not so sweet, and just plain yoghurtier. 
  • Walking around the malls in Hong Kong, you’ll see a poster of a young man and a woman gazing at each lovingly—over surgical masks worn to prevent passing germs to one another.  You’ll also see, in random spots in random hallways, small electronic machines that dispense an alcohol-based liquid you can use to sterilize your hands.  I’m not basing this on any hard evidence, but after a swift start to swine-flu season back in September (26 students at my school contracted it in less than a week), it H1N1 appears to be more or less under control here—as opposed to the States, where I keep hearing about schools closing down and whole families being sick for weeks. 
  • I’ve been seriously disappointed at the number of Hongkongers who’ve mistaken me for Bruce Willis.  At last count, the number is about zero. I mean, what good is it being bald and white if you can't capitalize on someone else's craggy good looks? 


Anne said...

Cute post! Happy Birthday!

michaelg said...

Happy Birthday!!

I enjoy a good squat hole now and then. Yes I do.
Bruce Willis? Not so bad. It could be worse. Think Uncle Fester or Glenn Beck.

Anonymous said...

Glenn Beck?? Now that's just mean!