20 Aug 2018 | Veronica
After moving to Hong Kong on a whim, I knew very little about what to expect from the city. Two and a half years later, these are 5 of the unexpectedly awesome things about Hong Kong that I love the most. Enjoy!
1. Streets where all stores sell one type of product, and that’s it.
Looking for sneakers? A plant? A pet? Fabric? New bathroom tiles? Chances are there’s a whole street dedicated to it. Rows and rows of stores selling similar items, making your comparison shopping incredibly easy once you know where to look! My favourites? Pet Street (adorable puppies, tropical fish, tiny hamsters!), and Toy Street (a must-go for teachers looking for small, affordable prizes for students!).
When you think of Hong Kong, it’s easy to think of skyscrapers, dense streets, and small living spaces. But did you know only around 25% of Hong Kong’s land is developed? That leaves 75% left mostly as country parks – the perfect way to get out into nature on hikes, beaches, in the forest and on top of mountains. With the city’s excellent transportation system you can be on a trail in no time.
I can’t count how many times I’ve just said “mh goi” (thank you) in a store… and the lady at the till gets a huge smile, gives thumbs up, tells me I’m smart (hou lek a!), adds a small discount to my purchase… Just from saying thank you! I guess this goes to show how many expats unfortunately don’t make any effort to learn the local language. But it pays off. Now that I’ve learned a bit more, a highlight of my trips to the market are the inevitable short conversations with aunties excited about a “gwai mui” (white girl) speaking Cantonese. Couldn’t ask for a more supportive environment to learn a new language!
Click here to learn a few popular Cantonese slang phrases!
Speaking of the local markets… They are by far the cheapest way to get fruits, vegetables, fish, noodles. Skip the grocery store and make your way through the vibrant stalls. My favourites are the fresh handmade noodles sold for ridiculously cheap prices. Buy them fresh, use them right away, and level up your cooking with no extra effort.
They’re fast, bumpy, swerve sharply, and stop on demand. It can be nervewracking trying to figure out when, and how, to ask the driver to let you off. But once you’ve figured it out, these 16-seater busses connect parts of the city in unbelieveably fast, convenient, and cheap ways. Make sure to ask around about the minibuses in your area – their stops are usually unlabelled!