From my previous posts you already know that Hong Kong is a never-ending tale itself. But sometimes you just have that extra element of surprise here and there that’s worth writing about. Quite honestly, my inspiration for articles has been severely limited. All my energy goes to building resilience in this matrix and writing often becomes the last thing I’d want to do. But it comes and goes in waves. During the productive ones, I create like crazy and drafts emerge one after another. But finishing them is another matter. Sometimes the right timing is needed; sometimes I aim to polish the style. Not an easy task with a full-time job, but surely something to spark my creativity. When a post is ready, it’s always a great feeling and I hope you, my readers, will appreciate it too. So without further ado, here’s another glimpse into (my) life in Hong Kong in the form of mini tales.
Tale about Queuing and Somatic Narcissists
Honkongers love to queue by default. Sometimes they don’t have a choice because in a city so populated, despite the large exodus in the last two years, this will inevitably happen during peak hours. But there’s something weirdly satisfying about waiting for your favourite meal or for the opportunity to post on social media that you too have finally made it to the popular spot the whole town raves about. It’s about prestige, and the ability to show it off. If it’s the city’s fad, they must be there! I’ve seen it everywhere. Some Hongkongers will obediently wait for hours only to be able to sit for 30 minutes in one of the city’s popular spots. Yeah. Strange on the one hand, but totally normal on the other one. This probably explains why I’ve only been out once on a Friday night. Queuing and prestige hunting are not my thing I guess.
My story happened at a popular bar in Central. Popular here means a pain in the ass to get to. Of course, it didn’t even cross my mind that I would have to queue. First of all, I came early and secondly as a 1+0 finding a stool wasn’t any trouble. Keeping it was a tad more challenging but nothing I couldn’t handle. Truth be told it was in the waiting area right outside the bar entrance. Quite a low level position, if you ask me, but unlike others who came later I didn’t have to stand. Since the bar had huge glass windows, I had access to everything that was happening inside and was indulging in what I love most – observing people.
Benefits of 1+0
While sweat was dripping down my overheated body, I knew there was no way I could get a spot inside. As a 1+0 you are somewhat of a social cripple in this hive but I couldn’t care less. So there I was – anxiously downing one drink after another not because I was annoyed but because I had to find my way to survive among the impatient crowd dying to make it through the ‘shrine’ into the air-conditioned space. I understand. It gives one a sense of superiority when looking at people nervously stepping outside, while elegantly sipping your cocktail on rocks from a glass. We outsiders were served drinks in plastic. Doesn’t life suck sometimes?
Let’s make this work
Left to my own devices, I got down to exploring mingling opportunities but prospects were rather bleak. Everyone was dressed to impress and trying to desperately look Western or at least emulate it more than the person next to them. Not an easy environment for me. While I did manage to strike up a conversation here and there, using my buddy Fuji as an ice breaker – and the only true partner I’ve ever really had, it didn’t feel right. I also managed to get a photo or two taken but other than that locals were performing really badly. Like a bad meal, the whole experience felt bland and unsatisfying.
But the wall is to thick
There was the omnipresent entitlement and arrogance which I believe some locals must be born with, or it’s injected into them like a tetanus shot upon birth. I really don’t know but drinking was my only chance. At some point it seemed as if a breakthrough was about to happen when a group of super sloshed people, evidently high white collar sharks, invited me for a drink. Well, but I was just fooling myself. Without even asking me they ordered whiskey, which I don’t drink, and later it became apparent that the sole purpose of that was to find out where I was from as apparently they had been placing bets. One must be indeed grateful to have an exotic appearance in this wanna-be metropolis, mustn’t they?
I’ve had enough
I knew this emotionally draining and socially depleting experience had to end. I was mentally preparing for an abrupt departure from the high society freak show, but the best was yet to come. As I was sipping the last drops of my drink, I suddenly noticed some sort of pressure on my leg. It felt weird.
As if someone was touching me but it wasn’t a skin-to-skin feeling. Out of nowhere a face with quite sharp features emerged in front of me totally besieging my private zone. A guy in a cap worn the other way round, fitness outfit and a mouth full of words completely attacked me and the whole space around me. While at first I couldn’t understand a word of what he was blurting, one thing became instantly crystal clear. The pressure the source of which I couldn’t at first recognise were in fact his testicles pressing against my thigh. Holy mishmash!
I’ve been ambushed before here by one or two guys who tried to snog me without my exactly showing any signs of wanting that, but this was clearly a higher level of attack. Since I was already in an elevated mood, I took it in my stride. In fact, I was amused by this and curious as I have never seen anyone coming at me with such vigour, let alone in such a busy place. I had to give it to that guy, he had quite some balls.
Mayday or Saveday?
Red flags were violently flushing in my head and the fact that the guy was after my genitals more than anything else didn’t need clarification. When he asked me if I wanted to see his sixpack I was brutally convinced. Never ever have I seen anything like that. I knew this situation screamed ‘trouble’ but I thought to myself – what the hell. If nothing else it would be an interesting experience and quite an addition to my otherwise uneventful night with interesting research into another emotionally broken male soul added to boot. ‘I am in!’ I encouraged myself and left my hard-earned stool.
Next thing I knew was me walking with him energetically to another bar and thinking to myself that I’d never seen a guy so horny and so loud about it before. The bar he dragged us to was quite nice, elegant and way more sophisticated than the previous place. Once the initial settling in was over and drinks landed in front of us I could finally have a closer look at this interesting game of nature. While I was sipping gin and tonic, observing his sharp jaws and high cheekbones, the guy – let’s call him Jay – would talk and talk and talk. He wouldn’t shut up.
Listen to me girl
He talked of his body, his best intentions, his amazing character, his kind heart, his discipline, his involvement in sports, his starting fitness business, his recent ankle accident – for God’s sake he even had the X-ray shot with him – you name it. He was like a salesman who had to sell this one item or else there’s is no going home. I remember reading on some of the funniest blogs about relationships out there that men are desperate for sex their whole life. Even the good-looking and successful ones. In Jay’s case, this was a brutal understatement. Gross misjudgement. It was beyond desperate. It looked like – ‘Either I’m getting laid or I’ll die on the spot.’
For this reason once the awkward closing time approached I refused to be walked home because I knew I would have to spend another hour listening to loads of lies and self-aggrandisement speeches and most importantly work really hard to prevent physical contact. But because he was also a gentleman and a decent guy too who wouldn’t let a young lady walk in the city at night on her own – oh gosh I should’ve known, my chances of explaining this to him were quite low.
Gentlemanship above all
Resistance was futile, but my dearest Fuji helped a lot and whenever it seemed that a kissing ambush was about to occur, I pulled my camera in front of me and suggested that I take photos of him. Oh boy, did he enjoy posing. His sixpack, his sexy look, I got it all. As our walk home through the deserted Hong Kong streets progressed, he outdid himself in terms of the nonsense one would say to a complete stranger during the first encounter.
For example, he promised he would introduce me to his mother and reassured me that I shouldn’t worry about the distance from one another – he lived in New Territories – should a romantic relationship develop between us. I was ecstatic. A truly unique find. While my vision and thoughts weren’t as sharp as when 100% sober I knew by that point I was dealing with a mentally disordered person. But I didn’t have the exact diagnosis yet. My previous experience with narcissists was indicating huge similarities though.
To no avail
When the good bye moment came and it was obvious that I wouldn’t give in in the slightest, he made a last minute desperate attempt to reverse the gloomy outcome that was presenting itself. It was clear that there would be no interest accrued from the long urban hike so Jay asked in a rather soft voice whether he could perhaps use my sofa, given the hour and distance to his house. He also promised he would behave. Despair at its best. I smiled as wide as I possibly could. “I don’t have a sofa. And it’s not you but me who wouldn’t behave. Goodbye” I confidently responded as I was keying in the code to the door. Leaving him there in this state felt great. While he suggested a date the next day, I smiled and rejoiced at the idea of not having to see him again in my life.
Sofa or no sofa?
Once I reached home I threw my Fuji and pouch bag on the sofa (Sonia, you little devil), took a shower and went to bed with a smile on my face. When he texted next morning telling me he would like to see me but I would have to travel to New Territories to do so I was dead sure it was a legit narc or a severe comorbidity with some other forms of jerkism. Sick person. When later he also insisted on my sending the photos I took, I finally spelled the diagnosis – a somatic narcissist. Voilà.
Diagnosis is out
Not every jerk out there, trying to milk women as much as possible, is a narcissist. But sometimes one has to lean towards the harsher scenario to protect themselves. Similarly with my previous two experiences, where men wrongly assumed I’d be open to closer physical contact, I logically can’t help but wonder – is it because I am a gwei-lo or because I am 1+0 or both? Or could there perhaps be another reason?
In any case, I can only make assumptions. However, I’m quite sure that being a female 1+0 at a bar is still heavily burdened with prejudice worldwide and quite a lot of men can’t get their heads around the fact that a woman might want to have a drink on her own too without being ambushed with unwanted attention. There’s nothing wrong with a random chat, something I love about going out and am actually always up to, but I guess I don’t like to explain to people that I’m not out on a hunt. When will people’s minds develop in this world? I guess if it hasn’t happened yet, then most likely never.
Tale about Dog culture gone wrong aka shit happens
Hongkongers are dog lovers. There’s nothing wrong with that. That is if only it weren’t just yet another means for them to showcase how rich they are. The size and breed of the dog is quite a reliable indicator of person’s ego and wealth. I don’t see why people shouldn’t get some cute canine friends as pets. I was born and raised in a country where having a dog is a religion. So no, I have absolutely nothing against it. But there are things I find hard to comprehend.
How big is good enough?
Nevertheless, I will skip the question of breeding Arctic dogs in hot climates as apparently dogs can adapt to anything. But still, I can’t help but wonder – why would anyone want to get a huge husky in Hong Kong? I mean we are talking a giant Alaskan Malamute. I guess it’s not for me to understand. Tolerance is key. And if nothing else, it provides yet another sneak peek into the local life.
Seemingly normal day
To challenge myself physically and mentally, I often walk to work and back. It provides me with the necessary cardio and alertness I need for teaching. On one awesome spring day I was speeding and dodging people skilfully focusing on getting to work as quickly as possible, paying almost no attention to the buzz around me. On the one hand, I was focusing on the destination and had a sort of tunnel vision, on the other I could also use spatial intelligence and work out what comes from left, right or behind. One hones such skills in a place like Hong Kong.
When suddenly something disturbed my peripheral vision to the point I had to stop and have a look. Across the street was a woman who wasn’t interesting in any way but what caught my eye was her monstrous, super bulky husky dog. It looked like an Alaskan Malamute to me and I slowed down significantly wondering why would anyone want to have such a huge dog in such a crowded, loud, crazy and congested city with incredible traffic levels. In terms of height the dog reached to the woman’s waist. With her petite and slender figure one could easily assume some dominance issues in that duo.
But this was not the right time for such philosophical questions as something really hilarious was about to unfold. The woman kept the dog on a leash but she obviously struggled with setting the direction. It was clearly dragging her and she had almost zero control over her colossal canine friend.
Choosing the right spot
Just as they were walking past Marc’s and Spencer, or more exactly as the woman was flying behind the monster holding convulsively onto the leash, the dog stopped about a meter away from the shop’s entrance and started emptying its bowels right there. While it had this peaceful expression in its face – we all know how great it feels, don’t we? – the same certainly couldn’t be said about the owner. Her pride of owning probably one of the largest dogs in Hong Kong slowly disappeared as she grew pale with shame and possibly also the burning question – what now?
I myself was wondering what she was going to do because it was probably the largest piece of shit I’d ever seen in my life. The dog just couldn’t stop. It seemed as he had been constipated and decided to release it all in front of the Britons’ favourite go-to grocer. Now the size was one thing but the smell? Oh dear lord almighty, you could feel it meters away. Obviously the area around the shop became soon deserted as nobody wanted to walk past this ungodly sight. But I lingered for a while in the distance. I was gutted for not having my camera on me, but I rarely do when working. Too bad. I still wanted to see how she was going to handle the huge mole of her fluffy friend’s excrement though.
The woman, aimlessly circling around her beloved dog, stopped to think for a little and as a true Hongkonger quickly came up with a plan. I must admit she did the shop justice. She vigorously rushed inside and re-emerged with even more vigour holding two copies of South China Morning Post in her hand.
Now came the worst part – page by page approaching the huge pungent bio compost and grabbing as much as each page could hold. When one load was done, she ran with the content to a nearby rubbish bin and threw it in there. And like this back and forth until, in her opinion, there was nothing to clean. The method seemed reasonable but it took quite a while to collect her best friend’s poop and dispose it during which she attracted a couple curious onlookers like myself, and also some teenage students who were laughing their asses off.
While the cleaning was a good citizen’s gesture, by doing so she extended the reach of the catastrophe as now not only the area around the shop but also around the rubbish bin was gravely contaminated with unbearable odour. If you ask me this could clearly be treated as a bio hazard emergency with the necessity to evacuate nearby buildings. But once the woman used all the pages of the newspapers, she and her ‘pup’ nonchalantly disappeared around the corner leaving a gigantic shitty stain behind. The apocalypse was over but its impact was far-reaching.
When I walked back home from work the brown stinky stain was still in front of the shop. While most dog owners carry a bottle of water to splash their dogs pee, here the woman would need a proper cleaning brigade to put it back in order. So I guess good on her for trying her best. I certainly do hope she left a large tip in Marc’s and Spencer too as I doubt the shop had any customers after the incident. Well, well, well…. One must indeed ask what on earth motivates people to such behaviour. I for one will always prefer the cute little doggos, especially those in pushy chairs. What about you?
Pope Francis once said that one of the ills of today’s world is the fact that people purchase animals as a substitute for having kids. If pope Francis saw the situation in Hong Kong, he would get a heart attack for sure. With the lowest fertility rates worldwide and dog ownership on the rise in recent years, the math is more than clear. While I have nothing against Pope Francis, I must say that I love the idea. Everybody in their right minds knows that the world is overpopulated and bringing a child into it is more than ever a risky business. I see nothing wrong about channelling your mother instincts into a pet. Although my mother instincts have never ever concerned me, I understand such behaviour perfectly.
Tale about Manners outta window
There’s no doubt East and West are two different worlds. I love my life in Asia but there are things that still keep surprising me. And that’s absolutely fine. For example manners or etiquette, if you will. Rude and uneducated people are absolutely everywhere, regardless of nationality and state borders. And yet my impression has been that certain nations have the tendency to say whatever crosses their minds without being able to gauge the possible consequences.
Labels and etiquettes
As a western woman, I have come across all sorts of unpleasant labels about my physique or personal choices. This might be the case in Europe too, I assume. Aside from historical factors, this is a matter of education, exposure, culture but above all intelligence. Some Asians, including Hongkongers, pretend that they have plenty of all these and boast about being amazing and incredibly ahead of everyone else. I attribute this to a certain degree of inferiority complex. I will cut them some slack though. My guess is that it’s the remnants of a long colonisation history in the region and the undesirable impact of white supremacy. Therefore, their speaking highly of themselves or their services could very well be a certain form of self-defence mechanism.
Camouflage of the past
Hongkongers hide their inferiority complex very well. In fact, in their case my theory might be completely wrong. Today they tend to think of the British rule with a degree of nostalgia, especially now when Hong Kong is slowly but surely turning into a dictatorship, thinking that as the richest people in the world they are probably entitled to everything they deem important. To me it’s the same when a Muhammad somewhere in Malaysia claims he has the best pizza without having actually ever tasted true pizza in his entire life or a Chen Wei Cheung tells you that his services are six stars. Here a universal truth applies. Confidence is silent. Insecurities are loud. Some Hongkongers are loud and it’s up to you to discern the motivation behind this.
Saxophone and shoes
My story about manners happened in Sheung Wan, a hipster neighbourhood with funky cafes, shops and restaurants. As I was enjoying an aimless walk in the area, all of a sudden nice tones of saxophone pierced the humdrum monotony of the gloomy day. It immediately caught my attention so I started looking for the source of the pleasant tune. The calming jazzy sound led me to a cute little shoe shop with trendy and unusual designs. Inside was a young local guy playing saxophone and the owner of the shop was just circling around aimlessly. I started recording a video because it felt so special in the otherwise never-ending Hong Kong noise. The owner noticed me and started chatting to me. Where I was from, how long I had been in Hong Kong and all that stuff. At some point he invited me to the shop.
We struck up a conversation all there of us. The saxophonist was in fact a hairdresser so I told him about my bad first time experience in Hong Kong and showed him the disastrous results. He reassured me though that the colour, which I had done elsewhere, looked great. At least something. As we were chatting and I was admiring the unusual shoe designs and materials in the shop, the owner came a little closer to me and out of the blue asked me: “Are you pregnant?”
I stared at him puzzled – what on earth drives somebody to blurt such a stupid question. ‘What a buzz killer‘ I thought to myself and instantly threw one of the shoes back on the shelf with disgust. I was flabbergasted but left the remark unanswered and turned my gaze towards the saxophonist, escaping the awkwardness of the moment. Meanwhile, the owner grabbed a business card from his desk and offered it to me. I reluctantly took it as I didn’t want to make a scene or be the less gracious one in the equation. Perhaps I should have been. As his hand with the card reached to me he asked again: “Are you going to have a baby?”
I was burning with contempt but at least I was sure at that point that the man was a complete idiot and I should make a hasty retreat. Stupid people are everywhere. It is the problem of a sophisticated disguise that makes it so hard to spot them immediately. While I would excuse the fact that he probably mistook my pouch bag for pregnancy, I couldn’t grasp the levels of stupidity demonstrated by his asking the question again and on top of that having the nerve to promote himself to me. To make my stance crystal clear, I left the shop without a word, threw the card in a nearby bin and deleted the video.
Mute the judgement
Sadly, this was not the first time it happened to me. I have been asked this question many times, not only in Hong Kong but in other Asian countries too. I admit, I am not a skinny model with a body in the shape of an ironing board but I do have an athletic physique, and a firm and toned body some women would kill for. I will definitely keep wearing my pouch bag too, because the blindness of people is not my concern. But when I consider that the owner had quite a developed belly and wasn’t exactly sexy himself, one must indeed wonder what makes such men blurt similarly retarded questions. I’m guessing it’s a complete absence of intelligence and manners combined with the infamous entitlement and arrogance. C’est la vie. Hong Kong, you never stop surprising me.
Typically, I only came up with the perfect answer to this unintelligent comment only when it was all over. Instead of silence I should have said that I too wanted to have a dog and was pregnant with a puppy. Never mind, maybe I can use it later. Though there’s still a possibility that I’ll call Jay and ask him to show me how to create a sixpack for myself too.
So friends, here you go. Another sneak peek into the day-to-day surprises of living in Hong Kong. One must indeed appreciate the uniqueness of it all. If you liked the stories, photo material or simply have questions, as usual, comment here and I’ll get back to you. Also, don’t forget to look forward to Part 2 coming real soon!