Before leaving on a flight to HongKong, I didn’t know what it will be like. Since HongKong is not part of SouthEast Asia, it’s quite hard to imagine what the country looks like compared to Thailand, Indonesia, etc. Here are couple things that can give you a little image of what the place is like.
1. It’s very crowded.
HongKong, especially in the subway and on the streets at night, is very crowded. You would run into endless number of people. When we were taking subways, there were rarely empty seats. After 5 pm is when the streets will be overwhelmed by a flow of crowds.
2. Public transports are really convenient and cheap.
We took subways to everywhere for the maximum of $10 – $20 HKD (USD $2 – $3) per ride, between 1-5 stops. The way you pay for the subways is by purchasing an Octopus card at self-served ticket boxes, which can be found at almost every station, and the machine only accepts $50 and $100 notes. All you have to do now is just tap your way in and out!
3. It seems like you’re in London, New York and Tokyo all at the same time.
When you walk to Nathan Road, it’d remind you of Tokyo because the streets are so brightly lit by signs from stores, people not crossing the road until the lights are green, and a huge flow of people on both and every side of the streets at night. It feels like London because you will run into double-decker buses that look exactly like the ones in the UK but are different in colours. You would think it’s New York when you’re in the central area as it’s full of skyscrapers, more of windowed skyscrapers, and full of expensive shops and shopping malls; but the streets are really really clean!
4. People don’t really speak English, but they do at street markets.
This one is a bit strange, as the general population barely speak English and had a difficult time ordering even at the famous Chinese restaurant in the Sky Terrace where The Peak is. We asked the waiter for a glass of orange juice, instead he brought us a mango juice. And all cuisine restaurants always have one or two staffs to take orders from foreigners, but even those staffs speak very little English.
At train stations, the staffs asked us to write where we wanted to go down on a paper so they would be able to help us with directions.
What we found surprising was when we walked down this street market near Nathan Road, the people speak English so well that we could easily ask them questions and negotiate prices.
5. Negotiating prices at street markets is a thing.
By the way… DO negotiate prices when you buy anything from street markets. You’re probably thinking that doing this might be too rude or brutal cause those people barely make much money… WRONG. According to this traveller, who’s very familiar with HongKong, said that the market stalls they bought the products for dirt cheap prices and sell it at a price that seems little to tourists; but the truth is they’re making loads out of each thing they sell. So if you’re short on money don’t be shy just negotiate prices, we did that and got a HKD $30 for each of our bags (doesn’t seem a lot but when converting it to Baht, we saved 140 each!).
6. Everything is fast!
HongKong is a city, therefore it’s full of busy people who work at offices. For some reason, everything feels quicker than usual. People walk very, the escalators take couple seconds to reach from one level to another, and the trains are so fast that they go from one station to another within 2 minutes. Everything feels really rushed, so when my aunt was walking slow (if we didn’t constantly look back to check if she was following us) she would have easily been sucked into the crowd.
Here’s a little video from our trip in HongKong!