December 16, 2014

Hong Kong

Back in 2003 – Emily and I took an unplanned 2 days’ trip around Hong Kong, and vouched to return one day with a more efficient travel plan around this city… and we did it 11 years later, last week, this time with an additional team member – our daughter Regine. I’ve had that experience (at Hong Kong) written down 11 years ago in this blog (link), and it felt kinda strange when I re-read the notes on how I really felt about Hong Kong back when I was in my 20’s. Oh how time has changed. Here’s my take on Hong Kong in 2014, 11 years later. A much much negative version, now that I’ve grown into a grouchier older man.

No doubt the theme is still the same. A huge metropolis with dazzling skyscrapers, neon lights and fast paced people walking all around that never sleeps. Only that, it has grown so much more. More buildings, more people. Everywhere I went in Hong Kong, I saw fuckloads of people. The city reeked of trash and rotten food because it’s so damn hard to keep clean when the place fucking gets this crowded and packed. Hell, even the air that I breathed was choking with haze, fumes and shit, that my boogers went a few shades darker than usual. All in all, Hong Kong is a shithole with too many rats in them. It’s not the kind of place to go for a relaxing vacation, but a place similar to Penang – you come here for the food and soak in the atmosphere of being perpetually on the move and being cranky. Now I’m starting to get why an old acquaintance of mine named Gordon moved out of his homeplace in Hong Kong to Australia – it’s not a proper place to live, he said. I kinda agree with him now.

Speaking of cranky, the people of Hong Kong (Hongkies) are definitely a cranky bunch. I thought I was antisocial, but wait till you see the Hongkies. It’s funny that they bitch so much about the swarm of mainland tourists from China being so much of an annoyance but, to be honest, that’s like a pot calling a kettle black. Hongkies are the same turd from the same colon (if not worse!). They never smile, are rude (you can tell by the way you get treated by the immigration officers at HK airport, despicable!) and are fucked up. I didn’t feel the same way when I went to China. I was treated with more respect in China (but that’s probably to buy my trust enough so that they can con me better or something, oh well). The only way to differentiate a Hongkie vs a mainlander Chinese (the people of China) in Hong Kong, is to spot the facial expression. A Hongkie can be easily distinguished with a pissed off or scowling look, like he/she has a battery operated butt plug with spikes up his/her ass and its going to vibrate harder if they smile/being-polite. A mainlander Chinese on the other hand, looks apathetic to everything and would just elbow his/her way over anything like a stampeding buffalo herd. This, is a major turn off for me at Hong Kong. Both the Hongkies and hoards of mainland Chinese made it shitty. I did go to Disneyland/Ocean Park, but it felt like visiting 2 rehabilitation centers with different majors in mindfuck. Those Hong Kong cheebyes… simply unbelievable.

Hong Kong, like Penang, has a lot of evolved food that has been cross influenced by various cultures (more on western for Hong Kong), only very much shittier (it’s not even in the same league as Penang). Many of its restaurants are Michelin starred, and 90% of them are overrated. Their food are expensive, and most outlets have crappy services (getting yelled at, getting shooed away, ignored at, are norms). As if this is not bad enough, due to the limited spaces, patrons are often required to share tables at eateries/restaurants. Their breakfast to start the day are also pathetic – they’d consider instant noodles, macaroni in bland soup, half hearted shitty toasts as delicacy and would queue for hours for one shot of those craps. (if only they knew what we Penangites have for breakfasts…). And the dim sum aren’t really as good as I’ve expected either. Michelin starred dim sum at that, they’re just passable food. Of all the restaurants I’ve visited, only 2 really stood out for me. One was a beef noodle stall located in a run down wet market with roaches to keep you company (link), and the other in a damp basement of a derelict building serving noodles with handmade tomato gravy (link). For food, I’d pitch Singapore with Hong Kong, they’re probably in the same shit league in terms of blandness and limitations of variety.

11 years ago, I navigated half of Hong Kong with a big ass paper map and a few brochures. Now, I did it all with just a Google Map app, with my planned places saved in my profile and let the app tell me how to get there with public transport – which is impressively efficient as hell (that’s the only impressive thing about Hong Kong – but really, what’s the point of having an impressive transportation network, when the whole city’s that shitty?). Hong Kong’s public transport is second to none (compared to Singapore, it’s much better). Its subway network covers most major spots, and for the rest that are not, it will be covered with intricate networks of buses and taxis. You don’t really need to have your own car there. And the Octopus payment card saves you the need to keep loose change, as most places support payment with this card (it’s like a virtual wallet). That’s efficiency at the next level. I kinda wonder, with such first class transport infrastructures and payment system like what they already have, why Hongkies are still so stuck up in the ass like they are now? Shouldn’t they be much more stress free than most of us and be that wee bit of a pleasant people to contend with? Fucking boggles the mind really.

Anyway, it was just a trip to bring my Regine to the poor man’s Disneyland (Hong Kong) and some tripping day at the Ocean Park. The city roaming and food hunting were just the sidelines which we’ve been wanting to do since our trip back in 2003. It wasn’t as enjoyable as I thought it would be (well, I might have enjoyed it if I’m a Singaporean), but at least I’ve crossed this off my list.


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