I think it’s necessary to explain what is Hong Kong, because I’ve been baffled by all the misconceptions people have about this place.
1. Hong Kong is not China.
Do not call Hong Kongers Chinese, do not speak to them in Mandarin, they will not like it.
Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of China. This means different:
- Educational system
- Legal system
- TV channels
2. Hong Kong people do not speak Chinese
The language commonly referred to as Chinese is in fact Mandarin (a.k.a Putonghua). This is the official language of Mainland China.
(FYI China is composed of so many different populations & tribes that many of them do not speak Mandarin).
However, Hong Kong’s official language is English and in their daily life people speak Cantonese which is another Chinese dialect.
3. Where is Hong Kong any way?
Hong Kong is on the South Coast of China, where the red dot is.
4. Hong Kong is just one big city with high rise buildings and flashing lights
Oh how wrong can you be!
HK has 230+ islands, ¾ of the land is country side and 36% of the total land is forest/jungle.
Hong Kong is composed of many districts and cities.
Take a look at this map; it roughly details the big areas of Hong Kong.
- Hong Kong Island:
The north shore is home to Victoria Harbour (the famous skyline of Hong Kong), and the main commercial district.
The Middle of the island is pure forest.
The south side is beaches and expensive expat residential areas.
Mainly residential areas for the local Hong Kongers and myself.
- New territories and outlying Islands:
HK’s countryside, made of jungle, beaches, village houses, wild pigs and snakes (no jokes!).
- Lautau Island:
Expensive expat residential area, beaches, jungle, airport.
5. Hong Kong used to be an English colony so everyone there speaks English.
Ahahahaha…. nice joke.
The youngest part of the population does indeed speak & understand English, but believe me only few Hong Kongers speak fluent English. Anyway, most of the time they are too shy to speak…They are actually quite cold towards foreigners, mainly because of the language and culture barrier.
Here’s my 2 cents: learn 5 or 6 useful Cantonese words and say them every time you need to deal with a local, they will immediately open up (otherwise you are in for a headache, because Hong Kongers can be a right pain in the bottom).
6. HK is the perfect blend of East meets West.
Stop watching National Geographic.
Hong Kong has both its true, but they don’t blend.
And please don’t be offended if locals don’t want to mix with you when you can’t even be bothered to learn their language.
Imagine if thousands of Chinese people went to London for jobs but never learnt English and insisted everyone speak to them in Mandarin because it’s the most spoken language on earth…it wouldn’t go down well, would it?