Friday, December 09, 2011

Hong Kong Day 1: The Beginning of a Social Experiment

My trip began with a flight to Newark, where I noticed a few guys in black suits, big black top hats, and bushy beards.  My initial thoughts: Is there such a thing as an Amish convention?  And when did the Amish begin flying?  Then one of them broke out a cell phone and removed their hat to reveal a yarmulke.  Fake Amish Jews 1, Chan 0.

If you have never taken a 16 hour flight before, it's definitely something.  I started going crazy after running out of things to do - there's only so much movie-watching, podcast-listening, and Battleship-playing one can do before they start losing it.

I landed and was greeted by hugs from my parents.  It was then that I realized those would likely be the only hugs I would give or receive during my entire stay in Hong Kong, despite my schedule of visiting with nearly all possible relatives that I haven't seen in a decade.  It's a cultural thing - Chinese people don't hug one another often (even family members), and just have an overall inability in expressing their emotions outwardly.  It's why Chinese people give more awkward hugs - we have less overall hugging experience, and there's a split second where we have to think to ourselves "Is this a hug or non-hug greeting/farewell?  This generates an interesting social experiment - what's the scorecard of hugs versus non-hug greetings that I will receive during my stay here in Hong Kong?  There's only one way to find out - and that's to keep a daily running scorecard on the blog.

On the bus ride back from the airport (Brief sarcastic tangent: I was shocked by the technology that they have for public transportation here.  They don't use tokens like in the GTA.  No, no.  They use this fancy "swipe card" technology.  I feel like I transported into the future, even though I use a swipe card everyday at work, and so do millions of other people.  Isn't it amazing that this technology can be transferred to public transportation in 2011?  I feel like I'm stepping into a TTC union-free bizarro world.), Betty started listing the family dinners that were on my schedule.  At this point, she said, "Try not to eat too much on this trip."  Apparently she missed the months leading up to my trip where I continually declared, "I look forward to stuffing my face for three solid weeks."  If I'm not a total Asian fatty and weighing 180 pounds when I get back (If you're white and think that 180 pounds seems low, that's because I'm Asian.  To convert from Asian pounds to white pounds, you multiply by 1.5, which would mean I would be 270 white pounds.), I will consider this trip a failure.

On the docket for day 2: applying for my Hong Kong ID card, visiting a tailor for a suit, and my first extended family dinner (which requires taking a ferry since it's on an island or something), all while fighting off jetlag.

Actual hugs 2, Non-hug greetings 0


  1. I'm curious, how are you eligible for a Hong Kong ID card?

  2. Hard to believe for most people who have met me, but I was born there.

  3. Why you got to be so racist all of a sudden...and please tell betty to find you a nice chinese girl....please....stop being a hero!

  4. Your reference to the transportation payment system in HK sounded like you came out of a cave. But a bit of a's not a "swipe card". Your Octopus card is a "contactless smartcard" that now Mastercard and Visa is copying.

  5. Note the preamble: "Brief SARCASTIC tangent".


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