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Monday, January 7, 2013

Y/A! Response Travel>China>Hong Kong

 Yahoo Answers Response:
Asked By CharCharr

What is it like to live and work in Hong Kong?

I live in the UK and have an identity card to live and work in Hong Kong. I really like it there and am considering of moving to live there in a few years when I have more qualifications and such. The thing I'd like to ask is, what is it like to live and work there? I heard the work ethic is really hard? Or does this only apply to certain areas of work or...
If anyone can give me insight to work life and just life in Hong Kong, preferably from your own experiences, it'd be much appreciated. Also any other information that would be good to know to help me make the decision. Thanks!

My Response:
In the actual Hong Kong island is rich and prosperous, except the other parts of Hong Kong aren't so swell. Kowloon is a wonderful city, but don't let the tall skyscrapers and tourist-friendly signs fool you. Deep within Kowloon runs many slums (a lot more than expected). These slums aren't any old welfare or government subsidized property as in the US; these are crap homes built for elders 80+ who work their butts off to afford a box no larger than the front seat of a car. These boxes are made of chicken wire and cost more per square footage than the average luxury home in neighboring HK Island. The elderly usually dwell these areas, and you'll usually find them playing mahjong or cards and speaking not the usual Cantonese, but a hillbilly version called toisan (they won't understand English either).

On the actual Hong Kong Island, everyone would speak basic to moderate English. Knowledge of basic Cantonese is still essential if you want to be successful in your job performance. Living on Hong Kong Island is also very expensive unless your company covers the expenses. One thing I might add however is that in Kowloon, food is very inexpensive, I'm talking in the pennies. Whether in the day or at night, there is always a street food monger. The venders at night usually are selling small bite sized things called siu yeh. The hours to find these in Kowloon generally are 9pm - 4am. Dim sum occurs from 6am-2pm. And then street food for the late afternoon.

If you would like to read a newspaper and aren't able to read traditional Chinese print, The South China Morning Post I would say is the best for foreigners (if you're white, the gweilo :D). Financial papers are also very common and sometimes free and printed in English. Chinese television is hard to understand so I would avoid the Cantonese TVB station as even I can't understand them (although the children shows can be a great resource in learning Cantonese such as After School ICU). For English news ATV World is currently the most popular. TVB Pearl is becoming more and more popular and it is the best English language news for Hong Kong and southern China. To catch up on news from the UK, you can hook up a special connection plan to watch BBC1. One big thing in Hong Kong is that people don't like mainland China there. To many Hong Kongers, China is perceived as a bully because of their disputes with Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

I do warn you, DO NOT DRIVE! Hong Kong Island is the only part of Hong Kong that it is safe to drive, except that is where the traffic is. Take the MTR for long distance travel if you have to. OH SAY GOODBYE TO SNOW! It never snows in Hong Kong. The major weather and climate reports usually are about Typhoons and rainy seasons. Pollution is also a major issue in Hong Kong and in most weather reports, you would see a pollution forecast (weird). Don't be surprised if you see a brothel here and there. These are all illegal establishments, usually run by a triad smuggling people into Hong Kong from the mainland. They can be commonly found in the redlight district of Hong Kong Island, catering to Asian tourists. The Wan Chai red light district has regular missing people due to criminal activity involving organized crime, so the back allies should generally be avoided.

The Hong Kong police are terrific at their job I must add. There are many of them and have 10x the manpower as New York City. This will give you a piece of mind when it comes to crime. The Hospital care is also great. Most of the medical staff are graduates of Hong Kong University if not trained in the US, Canada, UK, or AU. They fixed me up pretty well when I broke my leg. Fire is an issue in Hong Kong due to their high rises and tight enclosed spaces with limited exits. Plus the cheaply made tenements with poor wiring. This can be avoided as long as you don't choose to live in a slum.

Language wise, you should learn Cantonese as soon as possible. Many of the elderly people only speak either Cantonese or Toisan. They do not speak Mandarin, or English. Many of the children can speak basic Mandarin and English, but it isn't that great. If you would like to meet somebody with great lingual skills in English, university students are the key people.

That is all I can think of or remember for now. Goodluck with your job!


I used to live in Kowloon as an expat and still make frequent visits there from the United States.

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