5 Tips to Becoming a Hongkonger
So you’re new to Hong Kong, or maybe you’ve already been here for a few years, but find yourself trapped in expat ghettos LKF and SoHo (South of Hollywood Road for the untrained).
What’s amazing about this city is you could move here, and live almost exactly like you would in any world city like Sydney, London or even New York.
But if you wanna earn your cred from locals, if you want Hongkongers to stand back and say “Wahhh, Keui zhen-hai Heung-gong yan ahh! (Translation: Wow, he/she is really a Hongkonger!)”, you’re gonna have to earn it. And these five simple tips will get you well under way:
1. Hailing a Cross Harbour Taxi
Like most major cities, Hong Kong’s red taxis are everywhere, but never there when you need them. And the worst times for this is during a shift change. If you find a taxi during this magic hour, the first thing the driver will ask you is:
“Hong Kong side or Kowloon ah?”
If you’re going cross-harbour, he might shut the car window on you and drive away faster than you can finish saying “Ladies Market!”
To avoid this embarrassment, note these two easy steps:
- If you want to go cross the harbour, raise your arm and do an ocean wave motion (signalling to drive under the harbour). The driver will either stop, or straight-up ignore you and drive away.
- Alternatively, pay attention to the taxi’s red light on its dashboard. If the round light is covered by an “Out of Service” sign, you’ll know the cabbie is itching for that sweet cross harbour fare.
2. Instagram the Sh*t Out of Your Meal
In Hong Kong, taking a photo of your meal is just as important as eating it. So next time you order that plate of macaroni & cheese with a 60-degree poached egg, you better have Instagram open to share with your 1,000+ closest friends.
3. Counting With Your Hands
Learning how to count with your hands in Hong Kong will earn you some serious cred, especially at the city’s various markets. Three numbers in particular to note are six, nine and ten:
- For six, fold your index, middle and ring fingers into your palm, and hold them in place with your thumb like a surfer’s “hang ten” symbol
- Nine is a bit more graphic. Take your index finger, and curl it above your thumb till both fingers form a “9”
- With 10, imagine you were putting a hex on someone (no really, just imagine it), making a cross with your index fingers, that’s it!
4. How to Get Someone’s Attention
Everyone in Hong Kong is busy. Don’t get annoyed if they don’t just “sense” you’re there, trying to get their attention. You’re gonna have to work for it. So what do you say? One phrase: “Umm-goy!” This versatile polite phrase is equal to excuse me, and is sure to make heads pop up from that level 30 of Candy Crush.
Additionally, “Umm-goy!” can be used to say “Thanks!” when some sells or gives you something.
5. How NOT to Piss People Off
Whatever you do, you will likely annoy someone in Hong Kong. But don’t take it to heart; we’re just a really busy, time-poor city! One easy way to keep things flowing is with an Octopus card. That handy little device is your golden ticket to quickly hopping on buses, getting on/off trains and even buying that late night beer at 7-11; get it at an MTR customer service station, you can thank us later.
Also NEVER FORGET: When on an escalator – Stand to the right, walk on the left. You’re welcome.