From Japan to Hong Kong - Confusion


Monday, 01 June, 2009

Content Coming back to Hong Kong from Japan initially confused me in a slightly entertaining way. I found myself standing on the left hand side of escalators which they do in Tokyo, but not in Hong Kong. And I would swipe my Hong Kong Octopus card at the MTR barriers whilst thinking of Shinjuku station and Tokyo's equally convenient Suica card.

I have also never taken as much notice of the branding on toilet urinals as I do now, ever since visiting the Toto Super Space in West Shinjuku. Every public toilet in Hong Kong seems to be equipped with Toto tech.

On the first few days back, I also kept expecting customer service staff in shops and at help desks to keep bowing offering super friendly help, whereupon the Hong Kong representatives would often give a trademarked curt reply - efficient.

When queuing for anything, I also held back expecting everyone else to form an orderly queue. Ha! Needless to say, all this only lasted a few days before I adjusted myself to Hong Kong's etiquette.

This confusion never happened when returning from Vietnam to Hong Kong, and I suspect it's because both countries are alot more different whereas Japan's ultra slick Tokyo isn't too far off from Hong Kong in some ways.

Of course, both cultures couldn't be much more different in other ways and I frequently wondered why Hong Kong couldn't be more politer or pay more attention to detail and quality, rather than quantity. Even with the giant neon advertising signs that both countries adopt alongside their buildings.

Hong Kong has lots of neglected and precariously balanced signs that overstretch its urban streets giving the health and safety officials plenty of headaches.


Ever noticed how the equivalent signs in Tokyo are much neater, their slimline appearance resulting from stacking closer to the buildings?


Not to sound too negative, there's plenty I love about Hong Kong and it's sometimes rough and ready charm is undeniable. But I do find myself already missing the convenience of vending machine cuisine and cheap, fresh sushi.

We'll be back to Japan soon, though I'll probably say this about every country we visit in East Asia.

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