Obligatory Remarks: My apologies for not posting in a while. I have been sick this week, but I can't explain the past year of late posts by anything other than procrastination.
With that, I'd like to give you a list of ten things that you should know about Hong Kong, and my experiences here. By no means to I consider myself an expert, but these are just some things I have found here, and thought you might be interested to know.
1. Hong Kong is not it's own country, nor is it China - it exists in an on-the-fence state.
- It used to be a British ruled territory, with land leased from China.
- In 1997, the British handed it back to the Chinese
- Hong Kong is now a SAR - Special Administrative Region of China
(So technically yes, it's China)
- It's governed independently, enjoys different freedoms, and seems like it's own country.
In layman's terms - it's hard to explain.
2. People speak Cantonese here.
- Almost everyone I've met can speak some degree of English - very few people I've met can't.
- A large majority of the population can speak Mandarin as well
(due to proximity with the Mandarin-speaking mainland)
- The Chinese characters mean the exact same as Mandarin, but are pronounced differently.
(Written Cantonese and Mandarin are the same thing)
- Most public announcements / signs are in Canto, Mando, and Eng. (Very Helpful)
- Cantonese is difficult to learn. Trust me, I'm trying.
3. You don't need to speak Cantonese.
- It truly is an amazing city, as a large majority of people here speak English.
- People speak it so much, that entire universities offer courses all in English.
- It's actually difficult to learn cantonese because of the overwhelming English.
4. The MTR is the best and worst thing in the history of the world; mostly just the best.
- It's the subway system of Hong Kong; it goes everywhere, and is always on time.
- You get to be touched in ways bordering on sexual harassment during rush hour.
- It all operates on a system called the Octopus Card, and it is amazing
- You load your card with cash, and can use it anywhere - not just the subway
- Almost every restaurant and store has it, you can buy things from beer to ipods.
- Being able to stand without holding the hand rail, signals you've been here too long.
- Who doesn't want to tseng mukkao gun tsei mun? (Tsing buyao kaojin chu mun).
5. It can be incredibly exhausting.
- One week of being in the city makes me want to lock myself in a floatation tank.
- It's loud, there's light everywhere at all types of the night,
- There is seldom space to swing your arms around (sound of music style).
- Take a break now and again as you'll need it, but it's definitely worth the turmoil.
6. It's not just a metropolis - there's nature here too!
- A 30 minute Minibus ride away, and you can be on amazing beaches.
- There's plenty of hiking trails, and plenty of forest lands; check the New Territories.
7. The food is out of this world.
- Dim sum. Nuff' said.
- There's plenty of world-wide food. We regularly go for Mexican, Western, Thai, Chinese, etc.
- It's dirt cheap (most of it). Unless you go to SoHo; then you'll pay an arm and a leg.
8. People are nice - unless you go to the ladies market...
- People are welcoming and accepting, and are generally respectful of you...
- Though there have been times when I've been pushed back onto the MTR train I just exited.
- If you ever want to be gutted for your money, visit the ladies market in Mongkok.
- If you'd like a discount, speak any word of cantonese, or flash your HKID.
9. You will wreck your bank account.
- Not much to say to this one, I don't know where my money goes half the time.
- Never put a lot of money on your octopus - it disappears 4X faster than normal.
10. It's amazing, you should go.
- Overall, it's probably my favorite City in the world. As exhausting as it can be sometimes, it's a fantastic place to live, with a bunch of things happening all the time.
- If you're worried about not fitting in here, people are very accommodating and the expat community is huge - I doubt you'll have a problem.