During my time here in Hong Kong a few of the same observations would occur in different contexts, but it was always funny to hear from different people that they were experiencing the exact same thing, or hear different classmates have virtually the same conversation at different times.
For instance – despite the incredible efficiency of the subway system here, people will cram rather than wait for the next one (2 minutes during rush hour, 4 minutes during off time.). To those of us familiar with the NY subway system, this seemed pretty crazy, and multiple people wondered aloud why they would opt to be uncomfortable when you know another train will be right behind it. Well, I think we figured it out…. This past week, my last week in Hong Kong, I’ve found myself with thoughts of “that wasn’t 2 minutes, that was more like 6″ or “4 minutes?? …that was so much longer”…”the wait has counted down to one minute but it is long past one minute.” The system seemed lightning fast in the beginning, but by the end of 2 months I was fidgeting and constantly watching the minute countdown. Others noted that they started doing the same thing, and the questions about why people would cram stopped!!!
“This Coke tastes like chemicals” – only for others to answer that it’s probably laden with more chemicals in the US given more lax regulations (the comparison they were using was Europe, and perhaps by extension Hong Kong as a former colony?), therefore we’re used to a different taste that tastes natural to us despite not being natural at all…
The joking about never asking for directions because Hongkongers only give you a vague notion of where to go… A lot of us had this experience of asking for directions and funny stories to tell – getting answers like “it’s up there” with a wave of the hand or “take that left” with a point, only for you to be confused as to if it’s the first left or the one right after it…. Yes, I did in fact wander in circles around the Post Office in Sheung Wan, completely lost despite the fact I was basically circling around the building it was in after getting vague directions from person after person…. Please note, this isn’t a nonchalance on their part because they don’t care about helping – it just seems to be a cultural thing!