Bizarre Dishes of Hong Kong
Towards the end of my internship I felt that one of my co-workers hobbies was to see how many types of food I would be willing to try. I turned nothing down taking advantage of every opportunity. Some dishes were of course better than others.
I cannot remember the number of times people would love to watch me eat chicken feet even knowing I had tried it before. They loved to take pictures of me eating them. Matter where we went or how it was prepared I never like the chicken feet. They just seemed boney and fatty the two things I am not a fan of.
Cow stomach was another lunch favorite. It was very chewy. However, it was not bad at all. I would never go out of my way to eat it though. Fish stomach was another item that occasionally showed up.
The seafood in Hong Kong is amazing. Being surrounded by water really makes the presence of seafood very popular in cuisine. You easily can visit nearby fishing villages and eat fresh fish. My only trouble was actually knowing how to eat the seafood. The fish or crab often comes served as it was living. It is overwhelming sometimes to have a fish eye staring back at you wondering how to I go about eating this.
Another item that showed up on the lunch menu was preserved egg. It was served with half of the shell still on it. It was insanely salty I couldn’t even take more than one bit.
Sure all the touristy spots are great adventures to be had. However, I had the most fun on the small adventures, the everyday tasks I needed to accomplish. Ordinary things become extraordinary when interpreted through a different culture. Once such task that stood out was grocery shopping.
In the states the first thing you would do is jump into your car. In, Hong Kong cars are a serious luxury because of limited space. Walking makes you feel a part of the city. It throws you right into the action rather than, navigating it in a car.
The next thing you encounter is the size. No Wal-Mart’s in downtown Hong Kong. Grocery stores are nowhere near the size they are in the United States. The two markets I shopped at had everything and could fit inside the frozen section of a typical us grocery store. Instead of shopping carts they had carts that held the shopping baskets you carry. It rained quite a bit so everywhere you went had plastic dispensers to keep your umbrella from dripping.
Hong Kong is such an international place. That is easily seen reflected through its food. Markets often had little flags for each product indicating its origin. It was great being able to try food from all over the world. It was so much just to walk down the aisles not knowing what items are and just buying stuff to try.
Another great aspect of Hong Kong is the outdoor markets. They consist of several roads of street vendors. They sell everything you could possible think of. With the language barrier bargaining is done passing back and forth a calculator. As a tourist they will always try to overcharge you.
Hong Kong is a gigantic city and it can feel overwhelming trying to get around as a foreigner. However, the public transportation system there is so clean fast and efficient it makes getting around easy. It is even efficient with huge crowds traveling at once during rush hour. In addition, there was always at least a couple modes of travel to get to your destination.
This is the subway system that goes all throughout Hong Kong. It was what I used every day to go everywhere. It was stopped once per sub city area. From the stop there was multiple exits that placed you right where you needed to be. To ride the MTR we used cards called octopus cards. These cards are magnetically used to enter and exit station. You simply put your wallet or purse on to the pad, it blinked you walked through and on your way no tickets to worry about. You then simply just refilled your card at the machines. During rush hour people stood with white gloves and push people into the train, packed in like sardines. Even though it gets super crowded the air conditioning made it nice.
The buses were also very cheap and quick. They were a little nicer because you could get closer to your exact building without walking and you had your own seat. The buses were similar to tour buses that go across country in the United States often with TV’s. Little more complicated than the MTR.
Slow and smelly but it get you there. It is almost free transportation that has a fun feel. However, the truth of the matter is lower income, lower hygiene standards ride it. In addition, it is really slow method because of lots of stops. I recommend riding on top all throughout the city you get all the view without having to walk and its almost free.
Cabs are really cheap in Hong Kong you can take it almost anywhere for 10 bucks US. Often times they do not speak English. Best way to have a card with the Chinese address written on it to show the cab driver. All major landmarks and spots they will know in English. Often try to overcharge in touristy spots like leaving airport and Mecau.
Being an island, you can take a boat almost anywhere you need to go as well, often used to go to places across the bay or local islands.
After spending two months working at my internship with Note-in, i realized many differences as well as many similarities to American business culture. The main difference to me was that employees did not seem to have exact pre-scheduled hours. Employees would come in at different times each day, sometimes full-time employees would not come in to work till 1:00 or 2:00 pm but other days they would be in by 10 or 11. It seemed like employees were free to come and go based on how much work they had to do that day, this was an interesting system to me and one that i really enjoyed working in. A system like this can only work at a company like Note-in because employees mostly work independently from each other. I believe that if you have responsible employees a system like this can lead to higher job satisfaction and increased productivity.
While this was one major difference from American business culture, i found that there were more similarities than differences. Note-in had the same organizational structure, hiring process, and workplace atmosphere. Even from the first day i felt very comfortable working at note-in and i think that had a lot to do with how similar the business culture in America and Hong Kong are. There was never a situation where i felt unsure or uncomfortable due to cultural differences.
Overall i feel that Hong Kong is a very easy place for Americans to work becasue there will be very little adjustment to the new culture. I could definitly see myself going back in the near future.