Chit chat in Hong Kong

Posted on Updated on

They say what really makes a trip to any destination memorable is the people you end up interacting with.

In this respect, Hong Kong can prove to be quite a challenge, especially for us desi folk who have a built-in love for casual chit-chat — a mechanism which runs in direct contrast to the Hong Kong citizen’s love of utility, function and no-nonsense communication. Here is a collection of just a few interactions from Hong Kong, a city I fell in love with for its refreshing, albeit short, dialogue.


Exchanging money at the airport

Me: Hi, I would like to change US$200 please.

Cashier: *Nods in agreement*

Me: So, is the exchange rate any good at the airport?


First trip to the MTR train station

Me: Hi, can you help me, please? Where do I have to go to board the Tung Chung line?

Information booth guy: To.

Me: To Tung Chung. I need to get to Tung Chung to go see the giant Buddha? You know, the giant Buddha? *flapping arms*

Information booth guy: TO.


Information booth guy: TWO! *Angrily pointing to a big sign which says ‘Lane 2’*


Admiring the giant Buddha on Lantau

Me: This Buddha statue is amazing, isn’t it? How many steps did I just climb?

Irate stall lady: Yes, very nice, thank you. Please choose your free ice-cream.

Me: Do you enjoy your job? It must be kind of boring coming up here daily, huh?

Irate stall lady: Yes, you want chocolate, vanilla, strawberry?

Visiting The Peak

Me: Wow! Holy crap, this climb is so steep the buildings are all crooked! Look, look!

Chinese tourist: Yes very nice.

Me: Have you taken this tram ride before? You don’t seem nervous or excited at all.

Chinese tourist: It’s okay. I take picture for you?

Me: Yeah could you? I only have my BlackBerry [Curve 8900] though, no camera.

Chinese tourist: BlackBerry? *laughs* So bad phone. Very outdated.

*End of conversation*


Losing a Star Ferry ticket

Random guy: *Snaps fingers*

Me: Yes?

Random guy: *Snap snap, points behind me*

Me: I’m sorry, I don’t get you. You want me to go back?

Random guy: *Snap snap, points harder*

Me: But I just got my ticket. I don’t want to go back!

Random guy (in crisp English): You. Have. Dropped. Your. Ticket. On. The. Floor.

Shopping in Temple Street Market


Me: How much for this diary?

Shopkeeper: For you special price — 90 dollar.

Me: What? I saw this same diary for 60 two stalls back.

Shopkeeper: Wise guy, you go buy somewhere else.

Me: Okay, well, what’s the price of this slightly smaller diary then?

Shopkeeper: For you? Seven hundred dollar. Go away.


Smoking in the Empire Hotel

Me: Can I smoke indoors?

Reception guy: NO. No smoking here.

Me: Do you have any designated smoking spot?

Reception guy: No no no. No smoking here.

Me: Can I at least smoke in my room?

Reception guy: Noooo. *Frustration apparent*

Me on phone (after discovering ashtray in my room): Hey, is this ashtray here for decoration or can I actually smoke in the room?

Reception guy: Just one minute. *whisper whisper* Okay you smoke. Thank you goodbye.

Trapped by ‘Olina’, a call-girl in shady Wan Chai district

Olina: Take my picture, you me, only 20 dollars! *Grabs arm, refuses to let go*

Me: No! I’m not interested!

Olina: Okay no problem! You buy me drink for 20 dollars?

Me: No! I’m not into that!

Olina: You tallest man in Hong Kong — six feet long! Buy Olina drink!

Me: Fine. One drink. But that’s all.


Wake-up call for last day of Hong Kong trip

Me: Hi, can I get a wake-up call in the morning, please? Around 6:30 am?

Phone operator: Yes sir, 6:30 am thank you please, goodbye.

Phone in the morning: This is your wake-up call. This is your wake-up call. This is your wake-up call. *recorded message on infinite loop*

Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, April 10th,  2011.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s