posted by Xiao Hu on May 23, 2011 | 5 comments
Brendan, you mentioned during a podcast that you felt that NO ONE would be THAT polite in Hong Kong.

It reminds me of a funny story when I went down there last time.

I was in a camera and electronics shop close to Times Square. I went into the shop and was looking around to buy a new camera. When I walked into the shop I noticed an alternative lifestyle couple at the counter who were looking to buy a Canon and being given the red-carpet treatment by the shop assistant who was showing them lenses. I inquired with a shop assistant about the differences between the Nikon D90 and the Canon 60D, who pointed me in the direction of the big boss, I repeated my question to which the man replied.

"Two different companies!"

"I know," I answered "but I mean what are the specific differences, like features or quality..."

I was cut off immediately by his next reply of, "I told you, two different companies! You want Canon you buy Canon, you want Nikon, you buy Nikon."

"But what are the differences?" I insisted, "they can't be the same in every way..."

"Man, if you want buy something you buy! If you don't want buy something...I don't care!".

I tried to maintain my calm, "I'm looking to buy a camera, I'm just trying to find out the differences between the two so I can make a good decision. I've seen the Canon I'm just not too clear on the..."

The boss was becomming increasingly short, "Hey man, these gentlemen look now, you no look now, right now THEY LOOK! You want look, you come back later!"

"Okay, what time do you close?" I inquired.

"Whenever I feel like it!" he replied in an icy tone.

I was beginning to feel insulted. "I don't need to look at them, I was just wondering how much you charge, what kind of lenses and extras you give with the cameras?"

The big-cheese of this little camera and electronics supplier who, had apparently reached the very zenith of his miniscule supply of forbearance replied, "You want buy, you BUY! You don't want buy, you GO! I don't care!"

I was both stunned and flabergasted, however I maintained my cool and inquired politely.

"Well I'd like to look at some other things besides cameras if possible".

"You want buy, you buy! You don't want buy, you go NOW! I don't care!"

I didn't know what to say, but without thinking, I chuckled nervously, to which he replied,


"You're SERIOUS?" I asked, trying with all my might to contain my growing anger.

"Serious!" he retorted. "And don't laugh!"

"I DID want to buy something today, but I need to make a good decision."

"You want buy you buy, you don't want buy, you GO! VERY SIMPLE! I don't care man! THEY look now! You NO look, THEY look!"

I stared coldly at the man for some time, at length he finally conceded

somewhat. "I'm busy now man, you want look you come back later, okay?"

"Fine," I uttered in a tone like a subzero dagger, "I'll come back later."

Needless to say, only in the case of an army of electofied cattleprod wielding deranged midgets all simultaneously pricking my about the hind region with their instruments prodding me back to the you-want-buy-you-buy-you-don't-want-buy-you-go-now camera shop in the Hong Kong Times Square would I ever return.

Perhaps even then I'd have to seriously mull it over.

HK is a beautiful, exciting, cosmopolitan city, but the politeness level perhaps needs to come up a notch or three. Or was it just this one guy? Has anyone ever had this kind of experience with shopkeepers or service personnel in Hong Kong?

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Benrose on May 24, 2011 | reply
Haha... Something like this happened to me as well. It probably wasn't THIS bad. I went to buy a Cam as well (only I was deciding between Canon D1000 and Nikon D60 ;) and was facing the same problem. They just didn't give a damn. So before I got to the insulting part I went next door where they (I think) had watched the scene and were treating me quite alright.

I ended up buying the D1000 but I'll never buy anything like this again in HK. It had serious resentments for a long time towards HK after this. Then again: I probably went to the worst place ever to do it: Tsim Sha Tsui a few meters north of Chungking Mansion. First day in HK and I just didn't know better...
Xiao Hu on May 24, 2011 | reply

I'm wondering if it's just these guys at the camera shops. I think they must immediately size up a person the second they walk in the door, if they smell money, they'll turn on the charm, if they don't smell money then they'll blow a person off.

Not everyone is HK is impolite, I had to ask directions a few times and the people I asked were nice enough, but there was a big difference between them and the people on the mainland, when I ask directions on the mainland people are always extremely warm and they'll always offer to walk with me.

In HK, people are more like the states, they'll give the, "it's six blocks that way, then make a left and you're there."

Still, I like HK very much, I'd like to take another trip there again. Do you know some interesting places to go in HK?
Benrose on May 24, 2011 | reply
Same here. I love HK. It's one of the few places outside of Europe that I can see myself staying a couple of years in the future. :) (Though I'm still lacking the obligatory iPhone-iPad-Combo that seems to funktion as a cerificate of HK-citizenship! Seriously what is up with that?)

My absolute favorite place in HK is the balcony under IFC ONE.

It's kinda tricky to find at first, especially after the mall has closed. Get off 中環 (Central), find the nearest 7/11, grab a bunch of beers and make your way into the IFC Mall. Try to take as many escalators as you can (some of them close down at night but hang in there!) and you'll end up on this terrace with a great view at 九龍 (Kowloon) and some of the skyscrapers on HK Island. There 2 or 3 bars/clubs with great music and overpriced drinks but the best part is that you don't have to spend a dime there since you can enjoy the music from outside (there's a roof too in case of rain) sitting on a bunch of couches right at the balcony enjoying your 8$-Beer. And: It's totally legal. The place never closes and there is really friendly security 24/7 so it doesnt get sketchy. Best place to just hang and chat, warming up for Lan Kwai Fong or even spending an entire night in the golden week after finding out that literally ALL hotels in the city are 客滿 ;)

Other than that: Indian food in the Chungking mansion (you don't have to stay there although that can be quite the adventure as well) is a must. Be sure to get a good adress. There is a really good one hidden in one of the stairways (cant remember which one, i can look it up if anyone is interested). It reeks of piss and weed but once you get inside you're told to wait half an hour for a table and you're looking at a crowd of HKers in their Gucci-bags eating away some of HKs finest Tandoori...

Don't even get my started on Dim Sum haha....

What about you?

trevelyan on May 24, 2011 | reply

I want your Dimsum recommendations. Top 3 is ok.... :)

Benrose on May 24, 2011 | reply

I was hoping it woulnd't come to this. Sorry to disappoint you here!

I never spent a longer time in HK so don't have a Top 3. What I was trying to say is that Dim Sum alone is a reason to come to HK - regardless of whatelse you do with the rest of the day :)

The best I ever had was when I stuck to bunch of locals at 6am after a night at LKF. I would probably find my way there if I went back and used my memory but beeing still intoxicated tt the time I forgot to take a card with me (Top 3 sin in my life haha)


I'd love to hear yours though!