When the Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman‘s famous Rubber Duck stayed near the Hong Kong island, I spotted him(or her?) and the surrounding crowd when passing by the harbour where the duck was temporarily residing by accident. It was quite a scene, especially because I did not know what on earth was going on. I happen to be one of those who met the Rubber Duck twice in different places! I feel so special. Had I searched on the web about what to do while in Hong Kong, I most probably would’ve known about the duckie coming. That’s how much I feel at at comfort when I go to Hong Kong.
The words that I personally associate with Hong Kong are (un)friendliness, relaxed, loud, comfort and – last but definitely not least – gourmet. I assume Hong Kong deserves a chapter in my travel log, so I decided to share what I experienced from the 7 visits. Now, let’s get started with the unfriendliness, then.
I’m sort of immune to the general unfriendliness of strangers to strangers. In the eyes of a tourist, however, that of Hong Kong is almost incredulous. Oftentimes it’s as if my willingness or feelings have zero chance of being taken into consideration. Without being asked, you have to sit with a complete stranger at the same table if you’re occupying a table with some empty chairs. The dishes will be almost thrown across the table, the server would flatly deny your order without a word of apology when the menu you asked for is not temporarily available. Maybe you’d even be pushed off the cramped spiral staircase by a fellow passenger who is trying to get off the tram.
Am I ranting about the lack of kind service in Hong Kong? No way. Sometimes it’s simply different how people get by. To a foreigner like myself, this kind of experience is fun, even. In no way I found the aforementioned occasions offending. I’m emphasising the parentheses in the word, separating the ‘un-‘ and ‘friendliness.’
It was probably my third time to Hong Kong that I finally understood that it’s a different sort of being friendly. Whom I met were never overly nosy or tried to interfere with what I was in the middle of doing. (Oh, now that I think about it, minus the time when the diner’s owner was overly interested and never stopped asking me questions between bites.) When I ordered something that was not on the menu but was in the picture on the wall on the outside of the diner, the cook nevertheless tried and gave me what I’d come for, and it tasted heavenly. It’s just that they didn’t bother to make it sound friendly. It was better than a no decorated with halfhearted apologies.
So, (un)friendliness is just attention undercover. And I love Hong Kong for that.