Cultural Differences in Hong Kong

In China by Eller Student

It’s been almost two full weeks here in Hong Kong, and if I were to pack my bags and fly home tomorrow, I would have called this one of the most fun and interesting trips I’ve ever been on. The transition to living here has been relatively smooth because Hong Kong is a very cosmopolitan city and has a Western feel compared to some of the Mainland China mega-cities. However, the Chinese lifestyle is filled with hundreds of little nuances that simply wouldn’t fly back home in the US, and since we’re here for the long haul, we’re going to have to get used to it.

With Hong Kong being such a densely-populated and ambitious city, moving around is unbelievably hectic and personal space does not exist. Along with that, Chinese people are always in a hurry and will do whatever it takes to get to their destination as efficiently as possibly, even it means pushing you to get the last spot on the MTR or shutting the elevator door on you when you’re only a few steps away. The locals are flat-out ruthless in this aspect, and there is no way to deal with it, you simply have to respect the culture and keep up.

Another painful aspect of the culture in Hong Kong is the premium that is placed on water.  With all of the gunk being dumped in the harbor daily and other pollution, the natural water is a little sketchy here, so water fountains are nowhere to be found. I’m a thirsty guy, so there’s nothing more frustrating than asking for a cold water at a restaurant and getting lukewarm water at best, and then having to pay for it. I’ve even been to a couple of places where they bring you scalding hot water, which I simply just can’t wrap my brain around.

Don’t get me wrong, Hong Kong is one of my favorite cities I’ve ever been to, and I’m having the absolute time of my life. Those last couple points were two of the only aspects of Chinese life that has bothered me, and for every 2 complaints, I could talk about 100 good things about my time here. The people here are extremely nice and helpful, which is going to make leaving Hong Kong one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.