8 Things Transplants Do That Annoy Hongkongers

Wednesday, July 06, 2016 Andrea Lo 2 Comments

Many people end up in Hong Kong by way of somewhere else, making the city a diverse, cosmopolitan blah blah blah. Please stop doing these things that annoy the hell out of Hongkongers.

1. Talking about how you plan on leaving, constantly.

Yes, Hong Kong is a transient town and not everyone is invested in living here forever. But that doesn't mean you should constantly make it a point to bring up how you're here because of work, you don't plan to stay here, and that you'll be gone 'within the year'. It's irritating and to be honest, we've heard it all before. Chances are, you'll probably become one of those people who push back their exit time and time again.

2. Calling Kowloon 'The Dark Side'.

For an area that's a five-minute ride on the MTR from the heart of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon side somehow has a nickname that implies it's a ghetto full of uncultured savage beasts. Sure, there's the harbour factor, and it can be a real bitch trying to get a gor hoi cab. But we're living in 2016, and there's no reason for anyone, 'ironically' or otherwise, to refer to Kowloon as 'The Dark Side'. If you point blank refuse to go cross-harbour, you're living in The Dark Ages.

3. Dissing neighbourhoods you've never even been to.

I once knew a transplant to Hong Kong who was so clueless about the city and so against exploring new neighbourhoods that, when a mutual friend of ours came to visit and asked her if she had ever been to Lantau Island, she hissed a resounding 'no' with a look of disgust.

This girl lived in DB. (True story.)

Since we're now bitching about people, there was another girl I knew who, while we were talking about the rise of converted lofts in Wong Chuk Hang industrial buildings, made a comment about how she would never live anywhere near the area — despite not having visited it. I remember this conversation well because I live in Pok Fu Lam, less than 10 minutes' drive from Wong Chuk Hang. Oh, and — she recently moved to a neighbourhood next to it.

If you're going to move all the way from Wherever to Hong Kong, the least you can do is step outside the Central–SoHo–Sheung Wan axis once a week to explore what our great city has to offer. Junks don't count.

4. Living in a bubble. 

It's all very well if you choose to only hang out with other transplants, frequent the same bars and restaurants by the Escalators, avoid places where people might not understand English, and lead a life as a transplant I know once described to me: 'It's like I'm living in London — except I get to go to Thailand on weekends.' Would you have fun? Sure. Is it a life of comfort? Definitely. Are you truly experiencing Hong Kong? Not really. You end up missing out on a huge part of local culture, which is part of what makes Hong Kong so great.

5. Complaining about Hong Kong issues that no one can change.

The pollution is bad, humidity makes your hair go haywire, rent is extortionate, there are always roadworks, and it doesn't have XYZ things that your hometown offers in abundance. Homesickness is a difficult thing to beat, and we Hongkongers can hardly say we never complain about anything in the SAR. But every city has its pros and cons, and in exchange for living in a shoebox apartment, you're never more than half an hour away from the beach. Compared to your hometown where you have to drive, like, six hours just to get a carton of milk, I'd say this is a pretty good deal.

6. Comparing Hong Kong to New York. 

Look. Hong Kong is not New York. New York is not Hong Kong. We are not trying to 'pretend' to be New York. Stop making it a thing. We're talking about two cities on opposite sides of the world, where the culture, people and climate couldn't be more different (with the possible exception of the humidity in summer). I think you can probably reasonably compare Hong Kong to Singapore, but HK and NY are like chalk and cheese. The only similarities I can pinpoint are the hustle and bustle and the cityscapes, and being a Hongkonger, I'd say no view in any town beats our spectacular skyline. But anyway, it's not a competition — can't we all just get along?

7. Acting like locals are beneath you.

We're not always the friendliest people in the world — and as a local myself, I've definitely had run-ins with rude, angry Hongkongers. But to come here and act like locals are barbarians just doesn't fly. I'm calling these people out because this kind of mindset is actually surprisingly common in transplants. Learn to accept people around you — especially natives in a city you've moved to. If we all treated those different to us with a little bit more kindness and understanding, then maybe the world wouldn't be in the mess that it's in now.

8. Being rude about local delicacies. 

You don't have to like chicken feet, curry fishballs or stinky tofu. No one is shoving them down your throat (although I'd like to). But you should at least try to hold back showing your disgust — and under no circumstances should you be vocalising it. Food is an important part of our culture, and it is disrespectful to talk shit about delicacies that in one way or another serve as our collective memory.


  1. Love this! I was proud to note that I share your disdain for all of these... Except No. 6. Sorry I just can't help comparing HK to the city I left for it. Or I couldn't in my first year anyway. I don't do it anymore, really, not least because it would be like "trains in Hong Kong come all the time and trains in New York are just imaginary."

    1. Hahah Adam, OK being from New York you get a free pass for doing #6!