I realise I have made a grave mistake in my approach to life in Hong Kong. I had obviously gotten too accustomed to Japanese culture, where people are constantly polite, kind, and overly sweet to you. I was a fool to believe I would receive similar treatment here.
On this blog I always try to remain upbeat, because it is an adventure living in other countries. But don’t for one second think it is easy. Living away from your home country is hard like hell, in many different ways. It’s not all fun and games and sightseeing. It is daily life in a foreign land surrounded by foreign people who have very foreign ways of behaviour. And it is especially hard adapting to Chinese culture. Ironically enough, Japan is considered one of the weirdest places on earth, yet I felt a lot more at home there than here in Hong Kong which has had a strong British influence and is definitely more westernised.
I suppose my main problem is that living for a year in Japan made me a bit soft, and moving to Hong Kong has been a shock to the system. In the past five months, there have been countless times when I have felt powerless, victimised, weak, humiliated and pushed aside. Chinese people by nature are rough. They don’t seem to care about anybody else around them in their daily lives. They cannot see me, I do not exist.
It is really the little things that really get to me — the fact that people won’t even hold the door for one second, even though you are literally one step behind them. They simply don’t give a rat’s ass whether the door slams in your face. They don’t care if you are running for the elevator, and they look you in the eye and keep pressing the button to close the door. They will never wait for you — apparently their time is too precious. They will push you back into the train before you have a minute to get off. If they see something — anything — for free, they take all of it and leave none for others. They push in front of every line and refuse to wait their turn. They seem to lack the most basic politeness in daily comings and goings. People never look out for you, they have little consideration for the other human beings around them, and are apparently oblivious to your existence. It is hard to accept, that in Hong Kong, people simply do not care. Or at least it seems that way to me.
So, I have come to the conclusion that in order to survive here, I have to toughen up, and quickly. If living in the soft, squishy, smiley pink bubble that is Japan has made me soft, I have to accept the harsh reality of the situation, and adapt. I must toughen my skin. I must stop expecting or hoping that people will be more considerate, more kind and more patient. I must learn to stand up for myself, to be more ballsy, to be confrontational, to call people on their shit. Because the reality is, this is Chinese culture, or at least this is Hong Kong culture, and I am a foreigner in their midst. I cannot change them, so the question is, how much should I allow them to change me?
I don’t mean to moan so much or overgeneralise, because Hong Kong is not all bad. There are times when I like Hong Kong a lot. And the Chinese friends that I have been fortunate to make are wonderful, sweet, friendly people. But I seem to have a hard time getting along with the other 99% of Hong Kongers, and I don’t know why or what I can do about it. Perhaps this is why all the foreigners here stick together and rarely mix with the locals. Perhaps that is the sad but true reality of this place. And the sooner I learn to accept it and live in it, the happier I will be.
In the meantime, I suppose I will have to practice asserting myself, and learn how to push back. It won’t be easy, because I am a non-confrontational person by nature. Perhaps it will be a good lesson for me. Perhaps it will make me a cynical, hard assed bitch. Time will tell, I suppose.
Bed time. Good night, all.