Tuesday, 8 September 2009

5 things I’ve learned in my first week in HK

1. Despite the fact that it’s ridiculously hot and humid at the moment (around 32-35 degrees Celsius), and as an Irish person I’m dying from the heat (we’re talking three-showers-a-day kinda heat), I’ve been told that I shouldn’t talk about “sweating”. I must ignore the fact that as soon as I step outside, beads of perspiration roll from my neck, gathering speed as they pour down my back until they soak into my clothes and my underwear. No folks, I’m not sweating, I’m glowing. Hmm…

2. Further to the above point on the heat, if I want to act like a local, then I must dress like one. I have been warned that in the middle of winter, the temperature drops to a freezing 10-15 degrees. People die from the cold here. Apparently I will need a thick wool coat – and maybe a scarf and gloves too. In fact, the shops are already selling winter coats and jumpers. Of course, if it was 15 degrees in Ireland, I’d be running around in a t-shirt. But I must not talk about that. Keep quiet and button up!

3. If you’re walking along the street and you feel a large plop landing on you – fear not! It’s not bird shit. It’s just condensation from someone’s air conditioning unit high above you. Soon I hope to stop jumping in the air while flapping my arms about every time this happens. I also haven’t seen any birds in the sky, so no doubt this will help. (Is this linked to the pollution?!)

4. Creatures are scary here. Have already seen quite a few cockroaches on the street. And a rat (which my friends swear was a medium sized mouse. Now it was either a giant mouse or a rat, and my money is on the rat). Also, while someone was telling me about the wonders of living in Sai Kung (a fishing village in the New Territories – I’ve been and yes, it is rather lovely), they did mention in passing that one can find the occasional cobra sitting on one’s doorstep. Only a small one, mind. Fuck that. I’m staying in the city…

5. Every city divided by a river is also divided by its inhabitants who argue over which side is better. In Cork it’s bad, in London it’s even worse, but here it’s fricking ridiculous. Hong Kong Island is predominantly where the expat community live, whereas Kowloon is described as “more Chinese”. Both sides think the other is rubbish. HKers argue that Kowloon is “the dark side”, that it’s impossible to get to, it’s dirty, etc. A bit like the way North Londoners view South London. Kowlooners (Kowloonies?!) think HK Island is full of visiting foreigners, that it’s sterile, and that it’s a rip-off.

Now here’s the joke. You can take the MTR (tube/metro/subway) from Central (the main station in Hong Kong) to TST (the main station in Kowloon) in less than 10 minutes because they’re only two stops away from each other. Of course, have I decided which side I want to live on yet? No. Arse. Where am I going to live???


  1. Re point 3: watch out for Legionairres! Or Legionaires. Or leg..however you spell it!

  2. Thank you Ms Hypochondriac. Having said that, I've already been savaged by red ants - have welts all up my legs. But am carrying on like the brave soldier I am - won't fly back to the UK just yet!

  3. As someone born in the HK side (Aberdeen) fishing village, I have to say that the island is only less chinese in the way that it has brilliant colonial architecture, beaches, The Peak, the old BHS and M&S buildings, parks, the Pokfulam Reservoir where I used to go hiking with Robertson's jam sandwiches and horseriding stables. My primary school was an old WWII hospital and my secondary was built in a cemetary valley. Word.

    Kowloon - dirty, noisy, high street shopping.

    You know which side I sit on the North/South London divide...

    Things hectic at Gallery btw.

    Great to see you're liking my old stamping grounds. Its good that you missed typhoon season.