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Just back from Hong Kong, the locals were so rude...

Just back from Hong Kong, the locals were so rude...

Dec 13th, 2004, 12:15 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 215
Just back from Hong Kong, the locals were so rude...

We've travelled around the world I have never encountered people as rude as they were in Hong Kong. Have fodorites found this to be the case?
goingtobeijing is offline  
Dec 13th, 2004, 12:27 PM
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No, that wasn't my experience.
Kathie is online now  
Dec 13th, 2004, 12:33 PM
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Nor mine -- but, since you didn't elaborate, it's a bit hard to know exactly what you're referring to. It has been my experience that in many eastern countries, the concept of queuing is not established, and, as a result, westerners are often affronted -- I know I have felt this -- when, while waiting patiently in line, their position is summarily usurped by somebody more "pushy" than they. But I don't think that this is intended to be rude!

Is that what you are referring to?
Alan is offline  
Dec 13th, 2004, 12:51 PM
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I grew up there and have visited HK often, and I'll say that things go in cycles. People were pretty rude in the 70's, but as they get more rich and civilized in the 80's, they got better (like queuing up for buses).

Early to mid-90's, Hong Kong was so properous that locals think they are better than everybody in the world, and service and attitude really got terrible. But after the Asian economic crisis and all the "down" economic times since ~98, and things hit bottom last year with SARS, people start to learn about courtesy again.

However, economy has been picking up again this year, with people making money on Chinese tourists, stock market and soccer-betting, I heard people are getting arrogant and less courteous again.

It also depends on where in the city you are. There's a significant difference. People are generally more courteous in the main business/tourist districts. Once you go to Mong Kok, Shamshuipo or some of the "new towns" in the New Territories, you may get some rude surprises.
rkkwan is offline  
Dec 13th, 2004, 07:10 PM
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Its partly a cultural thing as well..chinese tend to be a bit brusque in the way they speak, and it can come off as rude if you aren't used to it.
lcuy is offline  
Dec 13th, 2004, 07:19 PM
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No more so than in Beijing or Shanghai...as others have mentioned, it's crowded and pushy so it may seem more rude than other places. You don't mention where you encountered such bad behavior but I've noted that shopkeepers are generally nicer than airline or hotel staff that deal with tourists.
Lia is offline  
Dec 13th, 2004, 09:37 PM
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rude people are not the private domain of hong kong. in fact, i have never encountered a rude person in hk, but i did in, with due respect to bob and bill, in waltham, and dc, as well as many other places. so its universal, not special to hk.
kuranosuke is offline  
Dec 14th, 2004, 08:12 AM
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The rudest people in the world may just be in Los Angeles.

galiano is offline  
Dec 14th, 2004, 09:54 AM
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not my experience either...its a large city...you should expect it...
rhkkmk is offline  
Dec 14th, 2004, 10:47 AM
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If someone's from some smaller towns/cities in the US (i.e. not LA, not NYC, not DC), but including other large cities like Houston or Atlanta, he may find a few "rude" things that Hong Kongers do. Here are a few I can think of:

- First thing is the immigration officer at HKG. He/she doesn't smile, and hardly talk.

- Get up in the morning and walk down the street. Locals will not say "morning" to strangers, in whatever language, period. Doesn't matter you're Chinese or not.

- Get on a bus, and the bus driver will not say "hi" back, if you say "hi" to him/her.

- Supermarket cashiers only say "thanks" to you because they are REQUIRED to do so now. And that's a pretty recent thing. In the past, they just scan your items, take your money, and nobody needs to say a word.

- Taxi drivers do not chat with their customers, usually. They'll listen to the radio, or chat with someone over the CB or cellphone. At the same time, they are very professional, and you usually won't hear them swear when they have a passenger, unlike in NYC or elsewhere.

- Go to most restaurants, and while more servers are courteous and polite, they are not chatty like servers in the US. The set up is different too, as you don't get a specific server, but you just wave at whoever to get what you want. And don't just sit there and wait for your check - you only get it when you ask for one.

- The MTR can be pretty crowded during rush hour. People often have to push to get in. That's just the way it is. Same thing with elevators in some busy commercial buildings. People will push in until the "overload" buzzer comes on.

- Similarly, since it's such a crowded city, there's much less "personal space" as in the US. People may bump into you while walking down the street or in the mall.

- It's also a noisy city, especially in Chinese restaurants during lunch time. People there are accustomed to speak loudly, and often they don't realize that they don't have to do that all the time. Many of my relatives still talk very loudly 20 years after emigrating to Houston.

[Since almost everybody lives in highrises, packed closely together, they are used to noise from neighbors and others. Hearing the TV set from your neighbor is normal, and they don't get bothered by that.]

- There are a lot of tourists from mainland China in Hong Kong these days, and their manners are most often worse than the locals. But if you can't tell between them and the locals (or if you can't tell between the Mandarin and Cantonese languages), you may think that the locals are rude.

Anyways, that's the main points I can think of right now. Maybe I will add some more later.
rkkwan is offline  
Dec 14th, 2004, 10:57 AM
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A few other things:

- In many restaurants, it's expected for people to share tables. That includes McDonald's, all fast food places, many Chinese restaurants during breakfast/lunch, all small noodle shops, foodcourts, etc. People do not have to ask for your permission to sit at your table. If there's an empty chair, then they will just sit down. It's just the way it is, because of space constraints in the city.

- If you go to one of the crowded electronic/cellphone stores in Mong Kok, do not expect to get service. Margin is low, competition is high, so the salesperson cannot spend any time showing you stuff or explaining things to you. Their job is to get you the goods and take your money. At some busy stores, you may have to push to get to a counter. My advice is to go to a Fortress store at a mall instead. Same merchandise, probably slightly more expensive, but you'll get some service there.

- In general, there's no return policy in shopping in Hong Kong. Make sure that's what you really want before paying. It's of no use trying to argue to store clerks for refund, as that's not the way retails work there.
rkkwan is offline  
Dec 14th, 2004, 12:20 PM
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I agree that many people in HK can sometimes appear a little brusque, but then again I'm famous (or infamous) for my own brusque Court manner (a real sweetie outside of it of course).

The key reveal was when we travelled around the world in April and May and 1 of my family, who has mobility difficulty (walking frame), was treated like visiting royalty throughout HK. Public Officials, Park employees, Public Transport Workers, Shop keepers and so on could not do enough to help us.
Walter_Walltotti is offline  
Dec 14th, 2004, 12:32 PM
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Walter - Most local Chinese with moderate/serious mobility problem simply stay home and don't bother to go anywhere. I believe most of the locals who see your relative are impressed by his/her courage to travel the world, despite having to use a walker.
rkkwan is offline  
Dec 14th, 2004, 02:59 PM
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I was in Montreal, Canada, earlier this year.

My car got caught up in heavy traffic and when the lights changed, my bumber was inches over the pedestrian strip.

This woman who was trying to cross the street in the other direction, all of a sudden, turned and headed for my car. She kicked at the front bumper, banged on the hood, and screamed at me through the windshield, her face going quite red in her exertion.

Must have been someone from Hong Kong. Can't imagine a Canadian being that rude.
easytraveler is offline  
Dec 15th, 2004, 12:07 PM
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It's very interesting that this topic has come up. I was talking to an acquaintance in Singapore last summer who said that many Singaporeans are upset that a substantial number of people are moving to Singapore from Hong Kong.Her family has been in Singapore since before Raffles and have been shop owners for over 60 years.She said that the rudeness level of people from Hong Kong was intolerable. She also said that it is quite common for people from Hong Kong to come into her shop, try on clothes, and just leave them on the floor, when they are finished with them and then just walk out of the shop and that she has experienced repeated pushiness and aggression. I haven't been to Hong Hong, so I don't know.I vacation in Singapore where I have not had this problem with people. But another aquaintance, who happens to be African, said that he was recently there on business and absolutely couldn't get a cab. He had to call the company, that he was on his way to for an important business meeting, and they had to send a car for him. He eventually got to the meeting, however late.He said there were lots of cabs around, but the drivers wouldn't give him the time of day. He was not in the best of moods. He kind of felt like it can be trying to get a cab in N.Y. Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Dec 15th, 2004, 01:18 PM
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Guenmai - about your African's taxi experience, I think there are two issues you're trying to express here, and I'll jump into it.

1. Even though the economy has picked up a bit, it's still very hard to make money driving a cab in Hong Kong. I cannot imagine taxi drivers giving up a fare. And a foreigner (regardless of skin color) can often mean a better tip, a lucrative trip to the airport, a lucrative trip across the harbor, etc... And regardless of what one thinks of Africans, they don't rob taxi drivers in Hong Kong. Some mainland Chinese may. Therefore, it's hard for me to believe all these taxis out there won't pick up your friend because he's African. Now, since I wasn't there, I couldn't tell you what exactly happened. Many streets in Hong Kong are no-stopping zones, and taxis can't stop there. And there are taxi stands at many locations in Hong Kong where you can easily get a cab.

2. The racial thing. Hong Kong is mostly a homogenous city, with like 90% of people Chinese, and the rest Americans and British. Whenever you have a homogenous society, it's hard to teach kids to be non-prejudical. And many Hong Kong people do think very highly of themselves, especially after the incredible economic boom from the 70's to the mid-90's. They often look down on Vietnamese, Phillipinos, Indians, Pakistanis. Even Americans and Japanese! And mainlanders too, until very recently. And most local Hong Kong people have little contact with blacks, as there aren't many African visitors to the territory especially nowadays, with much fewer US Navy servicemen than before. When people don't know or understand a foreigner, they can behave in a racist manner - whether it's intentional or not. [But, BTW, NBA has always been pretty popular in Hong Kong and China, and even more so these days with Yao Ming playing with the Rockets. And people there have long been fans of players like Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, etc... Many locals also love jazz & blues. So, there you go...]
rkkwan is offline  
Dec 15th, 2004, 04:44 PM
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To the above poster....My friend was there for quite some time and experienced this situation more than a few times.I have been traveling around the world for over three decades and understand travelers have to deal with all kinds of "isms"...nationalism...sexism.. racism...etc. I have dealt with situations of racism my whole life so I can perfectly understand my friend's frustration. As for basketball stars, that has nothing to do with how one perceives the average Jo-Blo. Now, I wasn't with my friend in Hong Kong, but from what he was explaining the situation seemed quite obvious.I have more than a few times experienced the same types of situations...abroad and at home. Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Dec 15th, 2004, 06:58 PM
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Guenmai - Hong Kong people can be rude, can be racist, but they never argue with their wallet. Therefore I find it hard to believe all these taxi drivers in the city will not pick up a fare because of skin color. That does not fit the Hong Kong society that I know.

Also, I wouldn't pay too much attention on comments on Hong Kong people from Singaporeans. The two cities are huge competitors - for trade, for financial services, for airline business, etc... It's like hearing Hong Kong people calling Singaporean slow and lazy. Yes, Hong Kong people certainly are less polite than Singaporean - I definitely agree - but "intolerable"? Give me a break.

Anyways, I'm not saying Hong Kong people are generally polite. They are not. Of the dozens of countries I've been, I have to say that they are definitely below average.
rkkwan is offline  
Dec 15th, 2004, 06:58 PM
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yep. I experienced plenty of rudeness in HK, it almost felt like home, (people from the NORTH EAST, USA are natorious for being rude.. I didn't much mind service issues.. but the part that drove me NUTS was everyone bumping sqare into me. EVEN if there was plenty of room too walk or they could of rotated there sholders so that the could walk by without "body checkingP" me... hmm strangly enough the other place I had this prob was singapor..

orgy7 is offline  
Dec 18th, 2004, 10:33 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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Ive literally just returned from Hong Kong too and I havent found a more friendlier set of people in my life. They were always willing to help me out when I needed directions and in places such as restaurants and bars-it was always service with a genuine smile.
salleynev1 is offline  
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