I know quite much about Hong Kongers and Hong Kong because my boyfriend comes from this supercity. When you have a foreign partner, it is inevitable to talk about their home country as you will have to face the diversity in the couple. Everytime we do something together, we share our points of view and we always end up knowing a lot about each other culture – we often share our countries’ ways of sayings or stories or habits. So speaking with him already gave me a clear image of what Hong Kong is ,with pros and cons, and my visit in December confirmed what my boyfriend told me – for example I knew about the hordes of people but I still had to experience it – and provided me with a deeper insight into Hong Kong/Chinese culture. Here are my top ten facts about this westernized but still-chinese mega city ?
Honestly speaking, it is not really banned, they even have to study it at school but the most spoken language is not Putonghua nor the southern variant of Mandarin but Cantonese. They speak Cantonese among themselves: in the family, with friends, at school etc When they speak Mandarin, they also have a weird accent and have problems pronouncing zh, sh and the Beijing R because in Cantonese they do not have these features nor in old chinese (these pronunciations were inherited from Manchurian, a language spoken by a people living in the northern part of China that hanzificated themselves in order to obtain the power – the Qing Dynasty). I heard that some Hong Kongers even speak a better english than Mandarin – an example could be my boyfriend – and treat badly mandarin-speakers as they come from Mainland and they “invade” Hong Kong ahah Cantonese is also very different when it comes to vocabularies as it managed to retain ancient chinese versions of the words whereas Mandarin was heavily influenced by Manchurian and northern dialects. Another big different is that Mandarin uses simplified characters 汉字 while Cantonese uses their old writings 漢字
2) Not only skyscrapers
When you think of Hong Kong, I am sure you imagine dizzying and countless skyscrapers dotted around – a real city jungle but it is not like this. As I reitered throughout my previous articles, Hong Kong is much more than this. Just by wandering around Hong Kong island itself, you find unspoilt natural areas that were spared by the urbanization. Not to talk about New Territories where you find places like Saikung or Lantau Island, where you see no sight of civilization for hours. So when you go to Hong Kong, I suggest you not to just stay in the city centre but also venture into the off-beaten tracks where you will find less people and tourists and enjoy a different kind of Hong Kong.
Oh yeah, they are and it is not just a legend lingering around! Everytime I tell my boyfriend that he is chinese, he gets angry and tell me he is a Hong Konger and the passport can prove it ahah do not get them wrong, they still feel very chinese when it comes to culture and history (how can someone not to be proud of such long and rich history), what they do not like is the chinese way of ruling, that is to say the despotic communism regime. You can see their will of not wanting to subjugate and give up to China nowadays. I am sure you have heard of the two young Hong Kong students refusing to swear loyalty to China in the parliament, haven’t you? They are making quite a fuss, eh! Well, I think I understand them, after so many years of fredoom, being catapulted back in a country still ruled by a dictator is not so easy!
4) One China two passports – Is Hong Kong a country?
From an ethnically point of view Hong Kongers and mainland Chinese are the same. Both groups are han people, unlike for example the Uighurs, Mongols or Tibetans that belong to totally different ethnic groups. The main difference is political: they have Hong Kong passport, which is much better than the Chinese one: they have access to more countries without requesting for a visa like the Chinese and of course, have more freedom in Hong Kong than in China. It is like Taiwan and China: Taiwanese and Chinese are both Han but the two countries, unlike what China says, are two different entities as Taiwan is a democracy with a president elected by the people. And by the way, most of you out there won’t need a visa for Hong Kong, but would probably need one for China. So, Hong Kong is not a country, but a quasi-independent city.
5) Not Everywhere English Is Spoken
Well, Hong Kong was a british colony so english is really widely spoken and all the signs are bilingual but when you venture more into New Territories and rural areas, do not expect that everyone would be there ready to speak with you in English. So be prepared when visiting such places and do not take everything for granted 😉
6) Food Paradise
Hong Kong is a big city and like any other big cities you can find any kinds of cuisines and then, if you take into consideration their obsession with food, and you also get as result every kind of street and bizzare food. You can find everything you have always wished for: snake soup, won ton, soup noodles, dim sum, unidentified food sold in those local markets…you will not be disappointed! One suggestion, do not go to those boring and plain american fast food shops but taste their local food instead – it is as unique and as unhealthy as the american ahaah when you go back home, you can show off and tell your family you ate snakes in a soup making your mother or grandmother faint ahha
7) Freaking Tiny But Expensive Flats
I was aware that Hong Kong flats were small because my boyfriend always pointed out how big my house was compared to his but I did not imagine this small! My god, they are so freaking tiny that people do not even know where to put the wet laundry and have to use some bamboo sticks to hang it outside. There are different kinds of houses of course: posher ones so bigger and cheaper ones so smaller but even the poshest flats are still no match for my house in Italy ahah furthermore the price for such a small flat is more than the price of my 3 storey-house here! Now I understand why my boyfriend used to say that he will buy a castle in Europe instead of a cubicle in Hong Kong ahah
8)Perfect Public Transportation
I have already mentioned the efficiency of Hong Kong public transportation in one of my previous articles but I have to stress this more! In Italy nothing works and our metros are real s***t, that is why we mainly use cars to go around. In other european countries it is much better but still the cities are not provided with such large choice of public transportation like in Hong Kong. They have a huge metro that covers all the places in Hong Kong and then any kinds of buses that bring you everywhere all day long, even at night. They also have boats that transport you from a side of Hong Kong to another. Another not unusual sight is taxi: they are millions and are found everywhere. So if you do not find the most suited public transportation for you among buses, metro, minibuses, boats, etc fear not! You can always take a taxi 😉
9) Hong Kong Population Density is extreme
This does not come unexpected since already China itself is one of the most densely populated countries in the world along with India. Hong Kong, though, is even worse because Hong Kongers can just use a small island and some other territories where they can settle down and no way of escaping because Hong Kong is an island city, something like Singapore. Plus Hong Kongers despise living in places like Fanling or Saikung, far away from the civilization of Hong Kong island, so the whole Hong Kong population of 7 million gather all together in one place filling it until it explodes. You can see how Hong Kong tried to work out a solution for this problem just by raising up your head and have a look at the tall skyscrapers around you. They also used reclamation projects to extort some lands from the sea. Here in Italy we say: what belonged to the sea, will get back to it, so Hong Kongers be careful!
10) Hong Kong weather not tropical but still very hot
My boyfriend insisted that Hong Kong is not tropical but subtropical and every time I said it was the same thing but I jumped to conclusions too quickly. When I visited Hong Kong, indeed, I realized Hong Kong weather was not tropical but still very warm and sunny. December is like late spring in Italy: pleasant temperatures, not extremely hot and sunny. My boyfriend suggested that the best time to come to Hong Kong is, indeed, our autumn and winter since the temperature of Hong Kong would not be unbearable like in summer but still quite warm and sunny. He told me that in October and November you can even bathe. On the other hand, he said that the worst time of the year to visit is our spring because the hot starts drawing in creating much fog and smog that end up obstructing the view of the sky and creating a gloomy atmosphere. But in general, the weather in Hong Kong is quite moderate.
My Hong Kong top ten article draws to an end but if you have some doubts or want some suggestions, do not hesitate to ask me since I can exploit my boyfriend and he is a real local and food-addicted 😉
Have you ever been to Hong Kong? What do you think of this city? Have you visited around or just stayed on Hong Kong island? You have some other facts to tell me? Feel free to express your opinions in the comments below ? I am always delighted when you comment on my articles ?
Where is Hong Kong?