Being a former colony, Hong Kong shares a lot of traits with Blighty. For example, everyone drives on the correct side of the road. All the road signage looks the same and 90% of it is in English as well as Cantonese. You see the same kind of shops here (e.g. M&S, H&M, Forever 21, Clarks, The Body Shop and so on). Despite the similarities, there are, obviously, massive differences. This is what I have seen so far:
As Hong Kong is comprised of mainly islands and bordered by China, the only real way to increase land available to Hong Kong is to A) reclaim it from the water or B) to ask China nicely for some more. Both options are quite unlikely to end happily/inexpensively. This means that everything in Hong Kong goes up. High rises are absolutely the norm here. That’s not something you see extensively in the UK. Even in major Cities, there’s a good mix of buildings on the skyline. In Hong Kong it’s just tall, taller and tallest.
The space premium also means that you will pay a lot for not much space at all. Do not have high expectations of large rooms/flats to rent in Hong Kong unless you have a really good budget. In comparison to what I had in the UK terms, I am paying (approx) 30% more for 60% less space, seriously.
Big Cities do tend to smell a little odd. This is normally because of sheer volume of people, waste and pollution. You get the occasional stinky street or corner but, on the whole, they don’t smell to horrendous. Hong Kong is an enigma smell wise. There is a funky smell assailing your nostril every second. It could be drains. It could be body odour. It could be cooked food. It could be pollution. It could be rotting fish. It could be fresh fish. It could be just about anything and it is all the time. Every breath I’ve taken outdoors here has smelled different. It’s a very strange thing to experience.
The price of alcohol is fairly comparable to Central London prices i.e. a print for less than £4 is a good deal. What is different are the drinks offers. Happy Hour is King in Hong Kong and special drinks nights are Queen. Happy Hour is a dying thing in the UK but here, in Hong Kong, it is alive and very well. Drinks offers you want to take advantage of (in bars and clubs) are even more rare than happy hour in the UK but in Hong Kong, they are selling what people want, cheap, and packing out the venues.
Happy Hour discounts in Hong Kong can be anything from 10% to 40% off drinks which makes drinking really rather cheap. There’s also a good selection of happy hour offers. If you fancied cocktails you might be able to pick up 2 for 1 deals somewhere rather than getting 20% off the price of each drink. You can shop around venues not only for preferred beverage but also for most applicable happy hour deal.
Drinks offers are completely insane in Hong Kong. There is a place which will sell for bottles of Corona for HK$10 on a Friday night in Wan Chai (that about 85p). Other places will be offering shots of tequila for HK$15 or Jaeger bombs for HK$30. It’s all a bit crazy and makes for a lot of very drunk people falling around places.
Something else, which I love, is that on certain nights of the week, ladies can drink for free. These are locally called the ‘ladies night’. Wan Chai tends to have its ladies night on a Wednesday. Lan Kwai Fong happens on a Thursday. Never in the UK would you get something like a ladies night. It just would not happen! I’m enjoying it rather a lot.
The ‘Red Light District’
It may have been naive of me but I expected the ‘red light’ type activity in Hong Kong to be a little discreet as you tend to see in England. I was, oh, so wrong!
You cannot turn a corner in any ‘party’ area without seeing women outside strip joints trying to tempt punters inside. You also get an abundance of obviously working girls on the street and grinding against poles (decide which kind yourself) in clubs. This just is not how it goes in the UK. In England, if you ask, people can tell you where to go for these things but in Hong Kong, it’s completely in your face 100% of the time. Personally, I am finding it very hard to adapt to and extremely tasteless. The worst thing, for me, is seeing girls being bundled into taxis by drunk men at the end of the night. It makes my stomach turn and my lip twitch.
I was obviously expecting a massively different eating experience in Hong Kong. I have been given one.
Firstly, no domestic kitchens seem to have an oven. Only electric induction hobs or gas burners unless you are extra rich with a good amount of space to spare.
My main joy is that I invested time in mastering chopstick use in the UK before I had to embarrass myself in front of locals here. You can see/hear them sniggering if you ask for a fork. You will feel shame.
There are aspects of food shopping which have made me raise an eyebrow. These have been mainly the markets. There’s not a lot of places in the UK where you can see a fish get smacked on the head, chopped up and put into a carrier bag inside 2 minutes or an entire chicken (head and feet attached) roasting in a window.
I have been appalled by the quality of food on offer in the supermarkets here. Food is regularly rotten and disgusting. I am basically not bothering with them. All my fresh food comes from markets. When I do go to the supermarket (ParknShop mainly), it’s for frozen dumplings or milk.
That’s another thing! Dairy here is massively expensive and of a poor quality. It’s mostly imported and not fresh milk. I yearn for a fresh pint of skimmed milk from a British farm. It makes me want to send messages home to England which say
“PAY MORE FOR YOUR MILK YOU TIGHT BEGGARS. YOU DON’T KNOW HOW NICE IT IS. PAY FARMERS FAIRLY FOR THE MAGIC NECTAR THEY SEND OUT FROM UNDER THE RAINBOW”.
Baked goods here are all sweet. Savoury bread, is sweet. It’s the oddest thing! Also, they cook fillings into bread here. They will put a hot dog sausage in uncooked bread and cook it with the bread. Or ham and egg cooked inside the bread. Sweet bread at that! Very strange but pretty tasty.
Overall, I am uttely in love with the food here in Hong Kong. I’m probably going to poison myself with street food before long.
That’s all I have for now readers but I’m sure there will be more.