Hong Kong’s Juiciest Rumours, Exposed!
Urban legends float around every city, and Hong Kong is no different. Here we’ve compiled some of the juiciest, most widespread rumours involving everything from tycoons to typhoons. Some have been found to be false, some are up for debate – and then there are some where we’ll pretty much never know for sure. Or will we? Read on and find out.
You might have seen Tsim Sha Tsui’s glossy The One retail complex and not given it too much thought. It was built by property tycoon Joseph Lau, who you might know as the guy who dropped US$28.5 million and US$48.4 million two days in a row on two rare diamonds for his then-7-year-old daughter, Josephine, last year. Apparently, Lau named The One after an alleged mistress, former Miss Hong Kong Michele Reis, who was reportedly “the love of his life”. Reis is married, and Lau himself is romantically involved with two women, who are both mothers of his children. The rumour has persisted for so long that developers Chinese Estate Holdings have come out to say it’s in fact so named because it’s “easy to remember”. OK, then.
Li’s Force Field
Every time the city is hit with a typhoon, students and worker bees rejoice… but only when a signal 8 is issued, of course, when everybody gets a day off because of bad weather. Millennials will have a hard time remembering the last time the city had a full day of signal 8, though – because apparently, the richest man in Hong Kong, Li Ka-shing, makes typhoons go away. Yes, that’s right – conspiracy theorists on the web allege that the billionaire has built a “force field” that repels typhoons away from the city in order to protect his financial interests, which a day off work can have major effects on. They say that typhoons have stopped hitting Hong Kong head-on in recent years for this very reason. It’s probably not true. But just look at the route of that 2010 typhoon above, though..
Hong Kong’s Own Casanova
Remember Gigi Chao, the lesbian heiress whose father put out a US$128 million bounty for any man who was able to turn her straight in 2012? Besides meddling in his daughter’s affairs, tycoon Cecil Chao has quite the track record for, um, not necessarily positive press. It is rumoured that the father of three has slept with some 10,000 women. Whether Chao actually has time to woo that many women while building his Cheuk Nang Holdings empire, though, is anyone’s guess.
What’s Your Flavour?
Ever noticed a code at the bottom of your ketchup sachet at McDonald’s in Hong Kong? Us neither, but according to a rumour that originated in the 1990s, these codes indicate the subtle difference in flavours for each packet. Apparently, the codes go in a sliding scale from A1 to A12, with the former being the most sour and the latter meaning they’re the sweetest ketchup packets in the house. McD’s debunked the myth later on – they’re from the production codes and have nothing to do with their flavour.
There’s a “secret” passageway between the HSBC headquarters in Central, and Victoria Harbour. We say this definitively because a tunnel does, in fact, exist – but it’s not for reasons you may think. It was believed that the tunnel was constructed during colonial times, so the Brits could bail quickly if anything went wrong. It is in fact there to draw in water as a coolant.
According to an urban myth that originated in the 1940s, a stone turtle – born out of a rubble on Lugard Road – is slowly making its way up to the Victoria Peak, upon which Hong Kong Island will sink. Yes, really – and apparently, Kowloon and New Territories’ sinking will swiftly follow. If this all sounds pretty improbable to you, consider this: another rumour spawned from this one after the construction of the Convention Centre in Wan Chai in 1997. The complex, designed like a turtle, was said to be reaching the water instead of the top of the hill to cause Hong Kong’s sinking. The “sinking” would eventually come in the form of economic chaos, because the Asian Financial Crisis happened right after the completion of the Convention Centre. Crazy superstition come true, or just really weird logic? You decide.
Free Octopus Money
Around mid-2006, a rumour circulated online that if you add HK$300 to your Octopus electronic payment card, then put it in the microwave for five seconds on high heat, then it would magically result in a value of HK$999. Around a month later, Octopus Hong Kong reported a bunch of people exchanging “burnt” Octopus cards that were no longer working. It’s safe to say that this rogue add-value trick doesn’t work.
Andrea Lo is a freelance journalist and translator based in Hong Kong. After cutting her teeth in the industry as a staff writer at a lifestyle magazine, she embraced the freelance life in 2015 and hasn’t looked back. She spends her time exploring the best of Hong Kong’s dining and nightlife scene, trialling new fitness trends, and travelling to exotic locales – all in the name of “research”.