Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Worst of Hong Kong 1: Walking Places

I love walking, I really do. So it isn't the walking that I don't like, it's just Hong Kong isn't a great walking environment.

I walk a lot during the week. Every time I want to catch a bus or go anywhere, I have to walk at least a bit. Whenever I'm waiting for someone, I'll walk around. When I have a break from work, I may walk to get a coffee or milk tea or go to the library. I also walk when I'm sad. Tonight I was supposed to go to another King Ly Chee concert. I was so excited! I always get super excited before a concert and then I'm usually happy for a couple days afterwards. Anyway, I went all the way over to Sai Wan Ho just to be told they were sold out. That was really sad. I even turned down an offer to go to the Israeli film festival just for that show! I was really bummed so I ended up walking all the way from Sai Wan Ho to Causeway Bay. For those of you not familiar with HK, that's a pretty long ways. I also walk when I'm happy or want to think or feel like moving. Yes, I walk a lot.

Even though I walk a lot, Hong Kong isn't that great of a place to do it. Well, it is in some ways. There's always something interesting to look at, and there's plenty of things to tempt you off the path. Tonight I made a pit-stop to pick up a chocolate hazelnut milk tea (my new favorite. I even learned how to say it in Canto!). I do enjoy looking at the different shops and watching the people who walk by.

What isn't fun is the bad air. There's always fumes coming from the cars and buses that go whizzing past. Strange smells sometimes float out of trash barrels or from buildings. Then there's the smokers. For some reason, smokers feel that it's ok to light up right in the middle of a crowd and blow smoke in people's faces. I don't know about you, but I'm not too crazy about the whole second-hand smoke thing.

Although this isn't nearly as bothersome as the other two points, another small annoyance is always getting bothered by people in the street. First there's the people handing out paper flyers. They are always shoving papers at me, trying to get me to go to their store to get a massage or order a couch or buy an oversized, jet-powered tub. Oh yes, that's right up my alley. Then there's the handbag/watch people. They walk after me going, "Miss, miss, want to buy a handbag? A pretty handbag? Handbag? Handbag?" No, I don't want a handbag. I have one hanging on my arm, thank you. It works just fine. And it was only $10USD, not the $50 (or whatever) you're charging. And then, there's the charity people. They go out with their boxes and ask for donations on the weekends. Every once in awhile, a whole school will do it together. You can't go a half a block without running into two or three of the kids trying to get you to donate. Once you've donated, they give you a sticker to adhere to your shirt and then the rest won't bother you. I see it as buying protection.

Finally, the thing that annoys me more than anything else: slow people walking in the street. Now, I do admit that I walk quickly. I don't know why, but I've somehow picked up the habit of walking like I'm missing something; it just feels comfortable to me. I walk faster than at least %90 of the other people in the street. While I know I walk quickly, it would help if the people wouldn't blob. When people walk down the street, they tend to spread out. If it's just one person, they'll wander all over the sidewalk, cutting you off as you try to pass. If it's a group of three, they'll spread until the whole sidewalk is blocked. If it's a group of five or larger, I suggest you jump into the street to pass them because you won't get past the human amoeba. The only thing worse than people blocking the street while they're walking is the people who stop right in the middle of the sidewalk and just stand there. Oh my freaking donuts please move! Or at least become permeable so I can walk right through you.

I guess I should look on the bright side. At least I've become very skilled bobbing and weaving. It'll come in handy if I'm ever trying to survive a sniper attack. On that day, I'll thank the streets of Hong Kong. But until then....


  1. I hate second hand smoke (I'm with ya there).

    Walking is so cool to me, but in some ways it depends on the temperature. When it's cold outside, it's awesome to breathe in the brisk air, but it raises the risk of getting a cold (which is a huge bummer). For me, I could walk around for hours, and lose track of the time thinking, praying, and meeting interesting people (depending on where I am).

    Each place that I've lived or visited had different walking joys and not joys:

    Chicago has the awesome river bridges, quirky pigeons, and lots of space to avoid running into someone (but's it can be super cold because the buildings act as a wind conductor).

    Philadelphia has the awesome hot dog/cheese steak vendors on the streets, the great historical sections, and the non-grid layout that makes the city unique.

    Los Angles has the nice weather, but the streets feel less safe (I always felt like I was about to get shot or mugged). So, walking felt too dangerous.

    And my home town has few accessible places too walk (big bummer).

  2. "oh my freaking donuts" whaaat? that's awesome.


I like comments just as much as fresh guacamole and chips! Well, maybe not quite that much...