Everyday life in Hong Kong is pretty much like everywhere else. There are however many things that are finally making me appreciate Poland. Here are the main 5 ones:
1: Work conditions.
Work life in Hong Kong is not as extreme as what you might imagine. It’s not Japanese karoushi (death though overwork). People in Hong Kong are rather reasonable and appreciate time off work. They do however agree to do so-called OT (over-time) without any additional pay. And so I can see people staying in the office until 8-9 pm.
They do work a lot, so you would expect that they get something in return. Like Annual Leave. Hong Kong’s official minimum you can get is…… 7 days. Yes, that’s right. You might be the lucky one to get 7 days of leave for the whole year and it’s 100% legal. Most common is to get 12 days a year. There are of course some public holidays that add up, but for 28 annual leave days in Poland, there is really no comparison.
2: Time limit on dining experience.
Hong Kong rent is one of the most expensive in the world, especially when you compare it to sizes of apartments here. This problem causes headache to every restaurant/cafe owner in Hong Kong. That is why they need to get more customers, more orders, more money, while making the whole dining experience less enjoyable as a result.
I was dumbfounded the first time I entered with P. to a cafe that was half empty and heard from a waiter that we have 1,5 hour to finish our meal. While we were having our meal, not more than 2 people came in and when we were paying our bill there were still lots of empty tables. Every time this happens I’m reminded of those days in Poland when I would sit in a cafe with cup of coffee for the whole day and I’m not sure if I should feel apologetic to its owner, or bad about the fast paced Hong Kong.
The other thing is sharing tables. In very local places or in local restaurants called cha can teng, when it’s busy you might need to join other customers at one table, sometimes a very tight one to that. That is very common and doesn’t surprise anyone. I, too, am used to it already, but even now I might feel a bit of discomfort in smaller places.
3: Attitude towards technology.
Hong Kong is a modern city and technology is very forward in comparison with Poland. Even older people in Hong Kong know how to use Whatsapp, Facebook, they would play Candy Crush and watch videos. My mom doesn’t even know how to connect to wifi.
That of course shows in everyday lives of people. I find it amazing every time I see P.’s nephew using iPad to look for new videos with children songs on YouTube. He’s only 2 years old. Lately I heard from my colleague that her daughter starting Primary school need to choose if she wants to be in a class using paperback books or in a class that uses iPads instead of textbooks.
When you got to nice restaurants, it’s not rare to see young people on a date sitting opposite of each other, but staring in their own mobile phones instead of at each other.
When you start a new job, very often there is a Whatsapp group for all employees to share important or less important information. And then they would create a group without a boss in it just for the less important talk. And then there would be a group created for a separate department, and just group of good colleagues and so on.
My colleagues daughter was accepted to school. The first thing that happened was that one of children’s mother created a group on Whatsapp for all the mothers so they can communicate about what class are their children in and what’s that day’s homework and so on. And then of course, the school would create an official group for announcements and to assign some tasks to parents.
Whatsapp craze in Hong Kong is overwhelming. Sometimes useful, but most of the times totally unnecessary.
4: Weather insecurities.
Hong Kong weather is truly messed up. It’s rather hot place, so houses are built in a way to make it less hot. Floors are usually made from stone tiles and walls don’t have any isolation layer. It’s great in summer – the don’t let the warmth to stay in.
Summers are hot and humid, but also extremely rainy and well, there are typhoons. For pretty much whole summer you can see “weather signals” on the news and in your MyObservatory app showing weather forecast. When it’s hot, you would mostly see the Very Hot weather signal, which means that temperatures go over 30 degrees Celsius.
There are three types of Rainstorm Warnings:
Amber and Red: mean that it’s raining heavily, but puts only Fire Station on alert as that’s when they start receiving calls about flooding. Kindergartens might be closing as well. Red might then change into
Black: day off for everyone! You do not have to go to work, unless… you’re already at work. Then you can’t leave or are not advised to do so.
For Typhoon signals there are also a few:
Standby Signal 1: doesn’t affect anyone, but makes people wish for T8.
Signal 3: means the wind is getting stronger, but not faster than 60 km/h and everyone knows that this is still a safe speed.
Signal 8 and above: that’s another day off for you. In some workplaces, if the signal is in force for more than 3 hours after the time you officially start your work, you can stay at home for the whole day, otherwise you need to report to work after the signal is cancelled. Most often typhoons coming towards Hong Kong change their course last minute and everyone call it the Li’s wall or Li’s force field. Li is surname of the most powerful man in Hong Kong who owns pretty much everything. There was some connection between him and observatory and some theory has been made that the signal 8 is not issued because of economic reasons as per Mr. Li’s wishes. Another thing to remember about typhoon is that there is a tradition of people meeting at night to play mahjong when they get day off because of typhoon T8, so there are really no bad feelings attached to the occurrence.
There are more warnings possible, however only typhoon and rainstorm ones are always there in your work contract, in the details of public events or school courses and it’s important to know how your workplace regulates it.
After summer comes the winter. It’s actually getting cold in winter and the sole reason for that is that houses in Hong Kong have no heating, no isolation and it’s usually getting colder at home than outside.
5: Umbrella Wars.
And by umbrella, I do not try to put a reference to Umbrella Revolution. When it starts raining in Hong Kong, walking from MTR station to my workplace is like a fight for survival. I am rather taller than strongest players in The Umbrella War, so even without any effort on their part, I usually get the umbrella wires in my eyes. Secondly, people would open their umbrellas and try to force themselves through the crowd without any care. Even if half of the pavement is covered by a roof, there will be umbrellas everywhere. It’s hard to explain to a person who has never experience that, but rain + rush hour + taller you = hurdle run. And I usually end up getting to the office all wet even with an umbrella to fight back.
Polish Girl vs Hong Kong 0:1