Hello again! I’ve been absolutely terrible about updating my beloved blog and for that I sincerely apologize. By now, I’ve probably lost all 10 of my loyal readers, so this entry is for you remaining die-hards still peeking through the window to my world. For what it’s worth, I’m seven days away from my one-year anniversary in good ol’ Hong Kong. Yes, I’ve survived.
So… what have I been doing all this time? No entries in nearly 10 months? Where’s the love, B?
Well, work has been a major part of this absence. I work much longer hours than Cali-time and my free time is spent unwinding away from my computer, usually on a golf course or on a beach. My social connection is simply maintained through the likes of fb status updates and tweets (follow me at twitter.com/brcheung). Anything that falls in between usually goes to catching up on TV or sleeping. Such is life on the HK grind…
Since I’m not going to make the effort to recap my past 10 months in one blog entry, I thought I’d simply do a top 10 to capture the essence. So without further ado…
Top 10 pet peeves about Hong Kong
Walk down the average street and you’re bombarded by the smells of garbage, cigarettes, moldy smelling people, mystery meats, herbal medications, and the occasional stinky tofu. The mix is tough on the olfactory senses.
9. Sticky heat
Let’s just say the combination of 90+ degrees, 100% humidity, and work attire is something I’ll never adjust to. Add in typhoon rain and it just gets downright miserable. Come in the winter. Stay away in the summer.
8. Polluted air
It’s rare to see blue skies when you look out across the harbor. Being close to all of the factories in China doesn’t help. When the skies do clear up, it happens for just one day – only because China told the factories to hit the pause button.
7. Music (barely)
After a year on the nightlife scene it’s pretty clear that Hong Kong is the place where music comes to die. If a jam gets played here, it means it was popular 5 years ago and has made its rounds on global top 40 album compilations. Even when California Love gets played, “from Diego to the Bay” bears no meaning. I shed a silent tear.
6. MSG in food
A small dose of MSG makes you thirsty. A medium dose makes you a little bloated. A heavy dose gives you migraine headaches. As a good friend would say, “muy pels!”
5. Rude service
Don’t get me wrong. The expectation of service is one of the greatest aspects of Hong Kong. But there’s a chain of abuse that trickles down to the lowest level, and when you come to face-to-face with the bottom of the totem pole (i.e. disgruntled waiters at cheap local restaurants) you come face-to-face with the beast of Hong Kong. Cursing, ignoring, throwing utensils, and serving you food on dirty dishes just scratch the surface. Who knows what happens back in the kitchen! I can’t really blame them but it’s not a pleasant experience as a paying customer.
4. Unnecessary service
To counter #5, some service industries go with the excessive counter-approach. It is necessary to have someone to bring the food from the kitchen door to the dining table, but not be allowed to place it on your table? Is it necessary to have 3 people pushing one button for you in a lift lobby? Is it necessary to have someone stand at the end of a line with the sole job responsibility of telling you to stand at the end of the line? The list goes on…
3. People that abuse #5 and #4
Worse than bad service or excessive service are the people that abuse service all together. For starters, a lot of people don’t even bother to look to make eye contact with a waiter, but instead scream out across the restaurant “mmm-goy!” as if they are waiting at your every beck and call (and no one else’s). These same people, generally middle-aged males with severe Napoleon complexes, don’t even say thank you to service people that help carry their luggage. But the worst offense comes from mothers. It’s not uncommon to see a mother have her maid carry her child while she herself carries shopping bags! Which is more important – the LV or the child? Don’t answer that.
2. Personal space
Space is not plentiful. It comes with the territory and I get that. My pet peeve is more about the effect this has on people. The adaptation to a highly populated city is the development of complete spatial un-awareness. The amount of times people walk across your path unknowingly or bump into you in a crowded subway station is enough to drive one mad. Urban Darwinism has yet to take kick into effect.
Highly populated and amply serviced – the people of Hong Kong wait for nothing. This is taken to extreme levels of neurotic behavior. The one behavior that without a doubt takes the cake is the excessive pushing of the elevator buttons. I’d estimate that 9 out of 10 people suffer from this disorder. Push it once, the button lights up, and the request is made. Push it 1,000 times and does it make the lift come faster? No. So why do you keep pushing the buttons in the lifts then? WHY?!?
(The views expressed in this entry do not reflect the views of any of my employers or associates and are subject to change by 2010)