Forget about the 3 star HK identity smart card which means you have the right of permanent residence, I have now acquired my very own shiny Samsung mobile. Yep it’s the baby size and the lower range but Samsung nevertheless and has whatsapp, which is how HK communicates. The general Chinese psyche believe the bigger the better as it is a loud statement of status. Yes I can afford this 1 carat solitaire, this top of the range latest iphone, the garage in my mansion could even house your own family etc. I often have to suppress a giggle when I see these massive mobiles or tablets pressed to people’s ears. Granted the larger screen and font are easier on the eye but does one really need it while on the move?
These are the peculiar features of life in HK observed so far: there are children’s playgrounds in every area but no sign of life. Where are the kids when school is finished or the weekends? They are busy doing homework or being tutored either in tutorial centres after school Monday to Friday or individually at home. Tutorial centres are doing a booming business and can be found in virtually every shopping mall, not just the one but a whole row of at least ten and that is no exaggeration. There are huge posters of young good looking tutors on the side and back of buses displaying their credentials as if they were celebrities. Kevin Chan King of English! Only in HK! I would never be featured because I am not brimming with youth and ambition.
You see babies in uniform with schoolbags bigger than them. Toddlers go to nursery and have to be ‘interviewed’ for the good or posh international schools. Often you will see a grandmother or grandad doing the school run or a Filipino or Indonesian maid. That’s because the young able bodied parents work long hours. It is more common for an elderly parent to be living with his/her child than in the west. Family is the cement which keeps society intact; especially the next generation and their education. With the increasing high cost of living most can only afford the one, so all their attention and expectations are focused on that little darling and sadly the trend is many are spoilt, especially by the doting grandparents.
The fast pace of life means everything happens last minute and you don’t get a lot of notice. For example they ring you in the morning oh your fridge is repaired and will be delivered back between 1-3pm. What if you had to work? The same with meet ups, you kinda negotiate roughly when but this is subject to last minute changes. It takes a lot of perseverance to actually make it happen.
It is virtually impossible to have a platonic friendship with the opposite sex, especially if he is married. No one will believe you are just good friends or that nothing untowards is going on. Being a single woman you are perceived to be a real threat, on the prowl to ensnare their man because they just don’t understand why you actually prefer to be on your own. For all its advanced technology and being one of the main financial centres of the world, HK really lags behind in its conservative attitudes and values. Conformity is highly valued and expected and any dissent is despised as it undermines the status quo and tradiition. If you are a rebel and anarchist then HK is not for you.
All the locals seem to do is eat out and walk round the millions of shopping centres. The ones into health cycle in large groups sporting professional wear from head to toe. Art galleries, museums and so forth doesn’t seem to feature big and creativity is not seen as something to be encouraged or celebrated. The nearest thing to culture that the populace will indulge in is flocking to see their idol sing at the massive Coliseum in Hung Hom.
Everybody with a bit of spare cash including the elderly dapple in stocks and shares and every five minutes there is an update on how they are doing on the radio. Some also follow the foreign exchange rates closely in an attempt to make a killing. Many conversations I eavedrop on in restaurants, on the bus and on the street are related to money, whether it be the lack of it or how hard it is to earn it or how unfair that one son has got all the inheritance.