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Hong Kong Need To Know's

I've been in Hong Kong for four days and there's a lot that I've figured out that I believe to be important for anyone who wants to come see the most picturesque city skyline in the world. I've contemplated how I wanted to present it and I'll do it in what I like to call, "tidbits."

The order in which this is presented is NOT the order of importance. Everyone has different values and the like so everyone will view certain points more important than the next person. These are merely just my notes to you, the travelers.

Prepare to walk A LOT

Expect to walk a lot in Hong Kong. Bring your walking mentality and your best walking shoes. Much like Seoul, South Korea, the metro stations (referred to as the MTR) are pretty big and even just transferring train lines, entering, and exiting the stations can feel like a hike. The MTR (the train), the bus routes, and the ferries will take you everywhere you could possibly dream of going in this concrete jungle. That being said, you'll still be doing a lot more walking than you're used to. Trust me.

Metro escalators are next level fast

Compared to back in the United States and the cities I'be been to around the globe, the escalators in the MTR stations are very fast. Be conscientious of this as you arrive in the city and hold the handrails when walking on to them. If you're chatting someone up and not used to it (or carrying a heavy bag in my case), it can catch you off guard. It's just the MTR escalators too. No where else in the city are the escalators that fast. Safety first!

Crowded & Congested city

Hong Kong is next level crowded. I've been to some big cities around the US and the world but Hong Kong packs the most people into the smallest space. Expect to constantly be dodging shoulders and getting bumped. Personal space on the MTR is non existent. When walking the Kowloon, Tsim Sha Tsui, and Central area's (the most bustling areas of Hong Kong), be prepared for a constant barrage of people coming at you from all directions. It's crowded and hectic. Don't say you're used to large crowds until you've experienced Hong Kong.

It rains A LOT here in Hong Kong and with the mass amounts of people always on the move, the umbrella game is quite an experience in itself. With so many people moving in hordes and rain constantly pouring down, umbrellas are a necessity. Don't stress if you forget to pack one, every street vender and convenience store has them. Expect to have to constantly adjust the height and angle of your umbrella while dodging people. Even worse the people here simply do not give a fuck and won't even bother to adjust their umbrellas. Be aware of umbrellas, especially when it comes to your eyes. Getting hit by umbrellas is not uncommon.

There is no language barrier

Unlike Korea, there is no language barrier here in Hong Kong. Everyone speaks at least a basic amount of English. This stems from it being a British colony and a traveling epicenter, I'm sure. Cantonese is widely used and spoken here. It's on the signs too but they're in Cantonese AND English. English is basically a second official language. You should still attempt to learn Cantonese. No one likes an ignorant foreigner not willing to at least try!

The financial gap between the rich and poor is deep

In Hong Kong there is the extremely wealthy and then there is everyone else. It's very noticeable and it's everywhere. Lamborghini's, Ferrari's, Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada and then there's the unimaginably small apartments in large and very run down apartment complexes. Hong Kong is extremely expensive to live and that's also noticeable as a traveler. Budget traveling here is a tough task. You can get your money back but you can't get your time back. Don't stress the expenses, just make the most of this wonderful city.

The apartments are super small

I just mentioned it but I can't stress it enough, living here is a tight squeeze.

Lots of foreigners

Unlike in Korea where you stick out in the crowds, in Hong Kong there are lots of foreigners. Foreigners that come from all corners of the globe. I'm speaking mostly about white people though. Remember it was a British Colony and lots of British companies have branches here. Expect to hear your fair share of the British accent while in Hong Kong. This applies to other commonwealths. I met a lovely woman who showed me some areas of the city and she works for an Australian.

Bamboo scaffolding

I wish I was making this up, but I'm not. When a building is being up-kept and or renovated, they use bamboo scaffolding. Not metal like the US and I'm assuming most of the rest of the world. My first host in the city said that during Typhoons the bamboo scaffolding becomes very dangerous in the high winds because it can break off.

Food culture shock

I ate a chicken foot the other day. Not something I ever thought I'd do. Worth the experience but I'd prefer not to do it again. Traditional Chinese dishes like Dim Sum is good and absolutely worth eating but it's not something that makes me excited to go and eat. Everyone is different but definitely don't come this far and not try traditional foods.

Eggs are desserts

Unlike back home in the United States where eggs are big for breakfast, here in Hong Kong it's often used as a dessert. Their egg desserts are wildly delicious. The two that I've enjoyed so far are the Egg Tart and Egg Pancake from Mammy's Pancake. The pancake was my favorite and I get the chocolate chips flavor. Not a chocolate fan? No sweat! They make this delicious dessert in many flavors. I didn't count but I'm guesstimating at least 15 different flavors.

UK driving

Please, please, please be very aware that Hong Kong was a commonwealth which means they drive like all the other commonwealths. For my non-commonwealth readers, that means to look the other way when crossing the street. If you're not aware of this it can be really dangerous. The drivers are insane. Especially the Taxi's and buses. Most intersections in Hong Kong have paint on the road that says, "look right --->" or "<--- look left ."

UK wall plugs

As a commonwealth they also have the same wall plugs. If you forget to pack or buy one before arriving in Hong Kong, there are stores that sell them. Particularly one that has all your electronic needs in the Central district on the Red MTR line.

Hustling Indians

In the Tsim Sha Tsui district (the tourist hotbed with all the hostels and centrally located hotels) there are hundreds of Indians that constantly try and hustle you on the street. They stand outside the, "Mansions" (where the hostels are). They will walk up to you and try to sell you, mostly, watches as you're on the move to get food or do the next cool thing in the city. I've never seen so many watch sellers. They're beyond the annoying breaking point. These people come up to you or say some form on accented, "My friend" "Can I help you?" DO NOT ACKNOWLEDGE THEM. Just keep it moving. For all things that are sane, trust me on this one.

Taxis

Don't take them. They're expensive and they rip you off because they know you're a foreigner. I have not taken one and I don't plan to. This is what a friend who was here told me. The MTR and the bus system goes everywhere you could imagine of going. There is no reason to take a Taxi. Utilize a really well run public transportations system.

Octopus Card

Make sure to buy an Octopus Card at an MTR station in Hong Kong when you arrive to ride the MTR for the first time. The card is reloadable and if you have money left on the card when you leave they'll buy it back from you! You can use it on the MTR and the busses. Some establishments around the city also allow you to make purchases with the Octopus Card.

 

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