The In-Betweeners

We’ve been here for a few days already and the cold is getting to me. Immensely! I don’t know how the local Hongkongers do it (is Hongkie a bad word to use to describe them? Someone please tell me). They are wrapped up in thick sweaters but they go about their life as if the cold was just a mere fly.
As this is my 3rd time into Hong Kong (the first time I came during summer BEFORE 1997), we’re in that in-between category – neither tourists nor working expats. We’re the sojourners and that’s a label I use because I keep thinking to myself, I really cannot live here. The cold gets to me (even at 14C and it’s March) and I layer up like kuih lapis before I dare venture outdoors.
When it’s hot, it’s hot and that’s in July or August. That’s also when the summer sale starts.
Anyway, weather aside, it’s been great just taking our time traipsing up and down Hong Kong aided by nothing but the MTR Octopus card and a HK tourist map.
I can’t help but do a comparison and contrast while sitting at the park (and despite the cramped apartment conditions here, the irony that stares you down is that the supermarkets and shopping malls in HK are large, even those located in the boondocks and their gardens and parks are just as huge).
Food-wise has been nothing short of excellent. Just like Penang, you can’t get BAD food here. It’s just not possible. But what I would give right now for a piping hot ayam varuval or mutton periatal from Little India in Penang – in this freakingly cold weather, that kind of food will just energise me right up!
Of course the roast goose, roast duck and meats and stuff do make up for this craving for spicy food. And then there’s this preoccupation with afternoon tea which starts at 2pm right up to 6pm. As I was sitting about this morning warming myself up with a mug of hot water, I speculated that the HK coffeeshops here had to include afternoon tea because without it, their coffeeshops would be empty. And like all pragmatic Chinese, why waste good rent when you can maximize it? So average coffeeshops here (“char chaan teng”) does round the clock business, starting with brekafast, lunch, tea and dinner. It’s busy all the time. Business is competitive here.
HK as a tourist (forget your 3D2N trips) and HK as a sojourner (10 slow meandering days) are as different as kopi and nai-cha.
We came here to do a few things but mostly we came here so that we can fully appreciate the lives we have in Penang.
More of my insights later…. and photos too. Right now I am using my friend’s laptop to type this while waiting for Nic to get ready so we can go for … what else?… TEA!

6 thoughts on “The In-Betweeners”

  1. I haven’t been to Hong Kong in a loooong time. But the temperature is really nice! I remember getting stared at by the locals when I wore Bermudas out at night in December. Hahahaha!

    • UnkaLeong: Bermudas in December? Either you have a lot of hair on your legs or you’re very brave. I hope you’re brave! 😉 The weather is OK for me if it is 22C but once it drops to 14C at night, it’s way too chilly for me. We were supposed to go in December but decided we don’t want to be popsicles. Speaking of which, the HK people eat ice cream and drink cold drinks regardless of the temperature outside. I am still puzzling over this.

  2. Yup, you are right. It is not a nice word to use. My Government encouraged us to call them “Hong Kongers” instead, but old habits die hard….and I’m sure they use that term all the time themselves,privately, of course.

    • Singapore and HK are similar in many ways. The efficient public transport system for one. I found it such a pleasure travelling in the former British colony. I met a lot of kind and courteous HongKongers during this trip (as well as the last trip). The other observation is that there are many more mainland Chinese in HK right now. They speak very loud and use boisterous Cantonese mixed with a Putonghua accent. My friend tells me that there are so many mainlanders coming to HK that the sales people often learn to speak Mandarin as a default language! The only annoying thing was HK people do not speak English much – everything is in Cantonese. I saw a Caucasian asking for wine in SOGO and the sales promoter said this, “I don’t speak English” before scurrying off! This is SOGO at Tsim Tsa Tsui and their staff are unable to speak in English. At times I wonder how the Caucasians actually live and work in HK.

  3. Ha! It’s the same scenario in Singapore. The cashiers in big supermarkets are now flooded with Mainland Chinese and they can’t speak English either! So, we just stared at each other at the check-out counter (and jam up the queue) until she gets help.
    Sometimes they end up teary, it is not their fault really. The employer is the cheapskate here.


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