You know when you go on holiday somewhere, you see the place through the eyes of a tourist. And if you emigrated there it’s a different story.
I feel I’m peeling back the multi-layers of Hong Kong like an onion. On the surface you see the dynamic pace and an efficient and industrious workforce. Walking through the markets there is bizarrely order in the chaos.
Everyone you come across, be it on the MTR or waiters, shop assistants, stall holders, taxi drivers are all in a rush; no one seems to have the time to stop and chat. Sometimes they may even appear a bit abrupt bordering on rude. There is no time for any niceties. In the early days I loved the place but wasn’t too sure of the people.
My last visit was a year before the handover and my grasp of the subtleties of the local custom is rather rusty; so I was forever being told off either for being too slow, getting in the way or not adhering to an unwritten protocol. Once I demanded money back for something I bought, which was unheard of and caused quite a scene, having to even threaten them that I was very familiar with the law! Here, if you are lucky, they will exchange goods within seven days but once money has been handed over, there is no chance in hell that it will find its place back to your purse.
Imagine my surprise when yesterday I stumbled upon an optometrist who actually took the time to chat, yes, you heard right, chat and not just about my eyesight! At once I thought he must have an hidden agenda, why is he not rushing around like a headless chicken? So apparently they do exist, there are people who will stop and do small talk.
And as Tai Po Market has become my second home I have made friends with a couple of shop assistants, especially the ones where the beauty salon is associated with. The other day I was waiting for the Little One to finish her facial and I was invited to sit on the stool next to the till!!! This was truly a great honour, not just the sitting bit but I was in the way of customers paying!!! They must be very fond of me.
Beneath the outer layer of speed, efficency and a no-nonsense approach to life there are those here who are not just robots operating on auto-pilot.
I am so glad that I am uncovering the better Hong Kong.