8 comments 24.6.12

The rules of walking in Hong Kong

Posted by Miss Fong - Filed under , ,

We all know that Hong Kong people lack manners (especially in the MTR), but have you ever wondered why that is? Besides the sheer size of the population and the lack of etiquette training growing up, I think I've finally figured it out -- it's cuz they don't know how to drive! 

Yes, driving is not only a skill that gets you from point A to point B. It also teaches you to look out for and notice other people (even if it's for a selfish reason, ie. defensive driving) because if you f--k up, you die. Simple as that. 

In Hong Kong, the consequences of f--king up aren't as bad (e.g. you might get a meaty body slam here and there), but the rules of driving should still apply to the rules of walking! They are as follows: 
  • When driving (aka. walking), keep your eyes on the road - failure to do so will result in a head-on collision!
  • Do not stop suddenly or perform any abrupt U-turns, especially without signaling - unless you want to create a 5-person pile-up.
  • When entering or changing lanes, always shoulder check to see who's behind you first.
  • After changing lanes, accelerate until you match the walking speed of those in the faster lane so you don't slow anyone down.
  • Keep your hands and legs inside of your vehicle at all times and do not swing them around - unless your goal is to lodge your hand into some old (wo)man's crotch or ass crack.
  • Do not tailgate, especially on the escalator, or prepare to get a big fat fart cloud in your face.
  • When someone's in your way, use your horn (aka. SPEAK UP!) - don't just stand there and hope they notice you breathing down their neck.
  • When there is a traffic jam (or more commonly in HK -- an umbrella jam), don't slow down, just keep on walking!
  • When backing into a parking lot (or in HK, an MTR seat), always check your rearview mirrors to make sure your ass actually fits into the alloted space (instead of landing your ass cheeks on your neighbours' thighs).
Since Hong Kong has way more people than cars, I think people should be required to get their "walker's license" before being allowed out in public! That way, the human traffic situation in HK would definitely improve ... don'tcha think?! 
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Anonymous said...

A Western guy who's new to HK is walking down the street. He hasn't learned to dodge properly yet, so a local bumps shoulders with him as they pass each other. The Western guy gets upset and confronts the local, yelling and demanding an apology. They are both rude, by the other's standards. But given the location of the incident: who's the one lacking manners?

Your rules of walking are the rules in the West, not in HK or China. Do you really think Chinese people need to learn to walk according to foreign rules before being let out on their own streets?

Miss Fong said...

I'm gonna go out on a limb and assume you don't live here... because actually, it's the "Westerners" who are dodging the local people who run into and bump into each other like human bumper cars. Ever tried it?

Gillian said...

Yeah I remember a while ago, right when I was sitting down on a MTR seat with my butt around 25cm from the said seat, this mainland woman dashed right between me and the seat and sat down! I almost sat on her lap -_-"

Anonymous said...

Agree totally, and I had to laugh at the sensitive response that immediately popped up. It is not an East vs West thing. It is simply being aware of more than your own interests and maybe a little courteous. You didn't even mention the couples walking hand in hand blocking the whole sidewalk, or the instant stopping when you see something shiny in the window, or the slow exit from a taxi blocking traffic ... I have even been abused for saving someone from being hit by tram.

Per said...

Thank you for your excellent blog, I read it regularly but first time to comment. Very interesting subject.

I am from Sweden and have been living here some years, a typical gweilo; don't know the language, depth of culture and so on. Let alone the walking skills you need.

Walking in hong kong was a huge struggle at the beginning, I was bumping into everyone even though I was dodging all the time and applied my Swedish international "walking license". I found out it was not intnational. I still struggle at times but it is much better now and my observations, if i may, are the following with some comments meeting traffic too.

Changing lanes. I think this is in no way applicable only to hong kong people but I can see people have a problem walking straight and cutting corners. If you think about it, it's quite logical, shortest way to B. I walk quite fast and slower people seems not to have the same problem. The big problem i think is when meeting traffic. I think hong kong people never made up their mind on what side to meet people. We drive on the left side and it would be perhaps logical to keep to the left and overtake on the right? I tried to keep to the right, since we drive on right side in Sweden, but it does not matter whichever side you choose. It would be interesting to learn your views on meeting traffic.

Focus. People have the tendency to auto focus on a spot, not having the viewfinder in in wide mode. Someone told me that Asian people have no 3 dimensional sense, but I don't know about that. People simply are not aware about the surrounding poeple, they focus on their phone, piece of garment in the window, the lift over there etc.

Balance? Not sure why but many people take small steps left and right which makes it quite hard passing if you are walking faster without at least shoulder brushing the person if you just happen to be passing that exact moment.

Focus meeting people. I was told to focus on the eyes of the other person you are meeting by my mother, for being polite and also avoiding accident (bumping in to the other person). I realized after a while as a newcomer to hong kong it was just too exhausting trying to make eye contact when meeting on the street.

Without dodging I guess it will be an ocean park bumper car experience out there! I bumped into a few people early on, but mostly because I became irritated and did not know better and it happened like this: meeting a person having made some eye contact or at least noticing eachother. Lots of people around you cannot take a left step, only option to avoid bumping in would be to stop. Just a second or a fraction of a second before dodging or bumping in to the other person, he or she turns the head away but still walking. You know the person noticed you. That is when I did not bother to dodge. Most cases you will realize the other person simply did not notice you so dodging is a must. I think it is a technique people have developed simply to not having to dodge that much.

I think some people you come across are just being inconsiderable or just don't care. You can see this not only when walking. I notice this daily in manay shapes and forms, but I think it is not hong kongers mostly, it is newcomers.

Again thanks for an excellent blog.


tiffanyfung said...

Hey, i live in hong kong since i born , nice to read yr blog:)
well, maybe i get used to the pace of walking...i didn't find i walk too fast until ine of my frds from taiwan come n visit me,she told me she get hurt when travelling on mtr:/

Anonymous said...

Dunno about the overly sensitive comment at the top, but this blog is fucking hilarious! Walking on Hong Kong streets is like a battlefield. :)

cornaynay said...

So true!! Its not just the pace, bit the CONSTANT zigzag line people walk in. I can handle the pace.. but its like they know you want to pass them so they waver infront of you.. left to right.