Welcome to… Hong Kong?
It’s Saturday at Lake Mountain resort and in case we’re homesick, the queues are just like back home. There are queues to drive in, queues for coffee and dim sim (yes, it’s dim sim here and they’re about the size of 2 or 3 siew mai’s back home!), queues for gear – the only difference is everything is in English and – someone approaches our parked car where we’re taking pics on the way up.
“Would you like my carpark sticker? Obviously I’m not using it anymore, we’re done for the day.”
Obviously not Hong Kong. It’s not that people don’t offer because they’re any more selfish than the rest of the world – it’s because people don’t expect you to accept. No one trusts freebies. No one trusts win-win situations or sales pitches. No one trusts strangers to be nice “just because”. So no one offers for fear of The Rude Brushoff That Destroys Everyone’s Day. Ergo, anyone who does offer is either obviously foreign (and probably lost) or is trying to make a quick buck. This is Cynic City.
I have what I like to call Malaysian Highway Syndrome. Growing up, I remember people flashing headlights at the lane of traffic moving in the opposite direction if they passed a roadblock in their lane (which they will soon encounter as they drive along.) It’s a reminder to buckle up/ buck up or get caught in the road block couple hundred meters down. When I told people I was Malaysian, I always had the highways in mind.
People always responded positively when I told them I was Malaysian at work both in Singapore and Hong Kong.
Outside work however, sadly, they erm, don't.
Learned the hard way not to make Malaysian Highway Offers too freely. People were responding with suspicion and skepticism.
So n-o, people don’t do the highway thing in Hong Kong. Or at least they only do it very selectively, once people get to know each other. Kings and I still do it, when we can. We like believe it's part of what makes us Malaysian. Maybe Aussies feel the same way 🙂