Local traditions and culture in Hong Kong

  • One of the races.
    One of the races.
    by IreneMcKay
  • One of the races.
    One of the races.
    by IreneMcKay
  • Monument for a horse.
    Monument for a horse.
    by IreneMcKay

Most Viewed Local Customs in Hong Kong

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    Horse Statue.

    by IreneMcKay Written Jun 6, 2014

    The podium in the centre of a pond in Central near the cenotaph and statue square houses different sculptures at different times.

    On my previous visit it had an elephant standing on a man's back. Now it has a horse sculpture.

    This sculpture is known as 'Monument for a Horse' which is part of Le French May. The horse was sculpted by Jean-Marie Fiori. It depicts a horse but it is riderless with no king or hero on its back unlike traditional equestrian statues.

    Jean Marie Fiori was born in France in 1952 and now lives and works in Paris. He is a graduate of the Beaux-Arts and holds a master’s degree in Fine Arts form Paris Vincennes VII. A lot of his work focuses on animals.

    Monument for a horse. Monument for a horse.
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    Gambling Passion

    by Assenczo Updated Mar 4, 2014

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    The Lamma island ferries are not just a deal financially, they are a window into the Chinese psyche. Here one can grasp the fact that locals are passionate about making money any possible way (the easier the better). It also becomes clear why the casino monstrosities of Macao were possible to conceive, build and saturate with customers. The favourite pastime of the ferry passengers (in this case) is not contemplating the sunset over the South China Sea, it is making money on the go, quite literally, from their fellow travelers and receiving a kick (and a buck) of it. As always there are winners and losers, both parties very visible despite the language barrier. They part amicably after the ferry docks most probably because there are no big sums involved. There is no time for many transactions; Lamma Island is not that far away for the hit of the century but surely far enough for satisfying the gambling itch.

    Sunset transaction Gambling lantern
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    All that glitters is not gold

    by Assenczo Updated Feb 25, 2014

    Hong Kong, the leading urban conglomerate of South Asia, busy financial center and bustling business hub has some uglier sides to consider. In general, the space available for dwellings is very limited due to the mountainous nature of the island. The buildings are forced into tiny sea-front areas and deep crevasses in the mountains. In these conditions the natural move is upwards. As a result, the apartment dwellings are shooting up almost as high as the business towers of transnational companies. The small lots are restrictive too and the apartments in high-rises end up being akin to cubicles. The wrong move in the bathroom could inflict you a serious injury due to a hit into the bathroom fixtures – so minute the space is. Bedrooms and kitchens are not of the giant variety either. While these problems might look like deficiencies, they are certainly not the worst of the bunch. Some people are stuffed into containers which could never be regarded as an asset unless they want to be shipped somewhere else quickly without having to move their furniture. The lowest of the low live in an open air setting with the only privilege of adhering to the best Feng Shui practices – facing the sea and backed up by the mountain.

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    Free Wifi in Hong Kong

    by cal6060 Written Nov 6, 2013

    Thanks to the Government of Hong Kong. Everyone can access the Free WI-Fi services in public areas. You don't need to register at the Tourism Board Counter, you can log-in right away with your smart phone or tablet.

    Check out the hotspot locations by clicking here!

    Don't play your phone or tablet while walking. It is dangerous ! Check out the lady in my photo!

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    Horse Racing

    by IreneMcKay Written Jun 29, 2013

    Most Chinese people believe in luck. They love to gamble. The only legal gambling in Hong Kong is on horse racing. For casinos you would need to go to Macau. There are two race courses here: one in Sha Tin, the other in Happy Valley. Both are run by the Hong Kong Jockey Club. Both are very popular.

    Sha Tin Race Course.
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    Handover to China 1997

    by IreneMcKay Updated Jun 29, 2013

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    The handover to China took place on 1st July 1997. This is marked by a public holiday on July first each year - SAR Day - Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Day.

    These old photos show the royal yacht Britannia waiting to take the last British govenor - Chris Patten and his family back to the UK and HMS Chatham waiting to take back some of the army.

    The royal yacht. Brithish navy vessel.
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    Chinese New Year

    by IreneMcKay Written Jun 29, 2013

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    This is the biggest festival here. It takes place in January or February on a different date each year. Each year is called after a different animal: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit,dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, pig.

    In preparation people clean out their homes and decorate them. During the festival red packets containing money are given to children and unmarried adults. Families get together for special meals. Children wear traditional Chinese clothes.

    Dressed up for Chinese New year.
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    Hong Kong's Rubber Duckie

    by IreneMcKay Updated Jun 23, 2013

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    A giant inflatable rubber duck sculpture floated into Hong Kong Harbour last Thursday, May 2nd. Designed by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman,the 16,9m high sculpture has already been in Osaka, Sydney, Sao Paolo and Amsterdam. It will be in Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour until June 9. It is located just outside ocean terminal in TST.

    The duck brings back memories of childhood to people from all over the world, but it is also about environmental awareness. It floats across the seas from continent to continent showing our oceans as a giant interconnected bathtub and above all it is just so cute.
    After Hong Kong next stop is the USA.

    Rubber duck. Rubber duck. Even more rubber ducks. Rubber duck. Rubber duck.
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    Stephen and Stitt

    by IreneMcKay Written May 27, 2013

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    The original HSBC bank in Shanghai had 2 lion sculptures placed outside it. The main Hong Kong branch of HSBC at 1 Queen's Road Central decided to have the same.

    In 1935 the bank commissioned two bronze lions from Shanghai-based British sculptor W W Wagstaff who died in 1977, aged 82. The lions took around two years to make. When they were finished, the Hong Kong lions became objects of veneration and people brought their children to see them and stroke their paws and noses for good luck.

    During the Second World War when Hong Kong was occupied by Japan, the lions were confiscated by the Japanese and sent to Japan to be melted down. Fortunately the war ended before this took place. After the war an American sailor spotted the lions in a dockyard in Osaka and knew where they had come from. They were returned a few months later and to their original guard posts in October 1946.

    The Hong Kong lions are also called Stephen and Stitt. Stephen is open mouthed and roaring, Stitt has his mouth closed. Stephen has bullet wounds in his left hind-quarters dating from the fighting in the Battle of Hong Kong.

    Stitt Stephen.
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    Elephant sculpture, Central

    by IreneMcKay Updated May 27, 2013

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    A gigantic elephant statue balancing on a man's back has appeared in Central district near the cenotaph and statue square.

    The statue was created by French artist Fabien Merelle and will be on display until 6th July, 2013. The elephant is modelled on an elephant in Singapore zoo, The man is based on the artist Fabien Merelle himself.

    The sculpture is called Pentateuque which apparently refers to the first five books of the bible and is supposed to represent man bending over under the weight of religion, culture, customs etc.

    The sculpture, part of a Hong Kong luxury art festival, has been sold for 250,000 euros to a Malaysian art collector.

    We seem to be going through a weird and wonderful animal art phase - see also rubber duckie.

    Elephant statue Elephant statue.
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    Own a goldfish and prosper

    by swissfondue Updated Jan 24, 2013

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    The humble goldfish plays an important role in Chinese culture as it is a symbol of good fortune, peace and friendship. I found out this information inside the Goldfish Treasures exhibit at Ocean Park. Its a good place to see hundreds of goldfish including some rare varieties, but if you like tropical fish there is also another great location in Mongkok where the locals go to 'goldfish shop'.

    If you would like to buy a goldfish (though I am unsure of how you would actually take one home in your suitcase LOL) any of the common varieties and some rare ones can be bought along "Goldfish Street" which is actually the northern end of Tung Choi Street (where the Ladies Market is located).

    There are literally thousands of fish on display in aquariums or hanging in rows in their own personal aquarium which is just a bag of water but its a facinating sight to see all the bags stretching up to the ceiling and spending even a short time wandering through different shops searching out the most exotic specimens and other reptilia is apparently on many tourists must do lists. They certainly are colourful and I find them quite mesmorising.

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    Escalator Etiquette

    by swissfondue Written Dec 11, 2012

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    As you shuffle onto the escalator as part of the frantic activity at any MTR station or shopping mall, just remember your escalator etiquette and move to the RIGHT HAND SIDE. That is unless you are in somewhat of a hurry and want to save a few seconds by climbing up the left hand side.

    Right for relax for a few seconds or left for leaving in a hurry! Also be mindful that Hong Kong escalators move fairly quickly in comparison to other cities so take note of the announcements and...PLEASE HOLD THE HANDRAIL.

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    Domestic Helpers - "Freedom" day.

    by swissfondue Updated Oct 30, 2012

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    There are almost three hundred thousand housemaids working and living with Hong Kong families.

    If you happen to be in the vicinity of the IFC covered walkways in Central or Statue Square on a Sunday you cant help but notice the thousands of mainly Filipino and Indonesian Maids spending their one day off per week outside. Maids turn the parks and footpaths into open air coffee shops spending the day eating, chatting and playing cards with their colleagues. Temporary hair and beauty salons are sometimes set up.

    Repulse Bay on the southern side of Hong Kong Island is also a popular meeting place. Domestic helpers set up picnics on the sand or cook barbeque lunches for their friends. Its a quirky sight that always puts a smile on my face, but it also reminds me of the affluent lifestyle enjoyed by the wealthy that so many people can afford to employ maids.

    Its my understanding that many of these women live away from their own families and contribute to their own households financially. Periodically discussions and debates are held regarding the rights of domestic helpers to be granted Hong Kong residency.

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    Bonsai

    by IreneMcKay Updated Jun 22, 2012

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    Yes, I do realise bonsai are Japanese, but these miniature trees are also very popular in Hong Kong, too. You can buy them pretty cheaply at Hong Kong Flower Market, Mong Kok. I used to own several but was not very successful with them, so sadly they are no more. There is also always a wonderful display of them at the Hong Kong Garden Festival. I love the ones that are used to create an entire mini-landscape as in my photo here.

    Bonsai landscape, HK Garden Festival 2012
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    Bamboo Scaffolding

    by swissfondue Updated Jun 11, 2012

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    Bamboo Scaffolding is a common sight in Hong Kong. The first time I saw it I was amazed at how such a simple material could in fact be so strong and effective. Take a walk along any Hong Kong Street and I guarantee you will see a building swathed in bamboo "sticks". Considering the enormous height of Hong Kong skyscrapers I suppose its makes good economic sense to use bamboo which is both strong and lightweight but the sight still amazes and confounds me.

    Check out the gentleman erecting scaffolding horizontally over the street on Hong Kong Island.

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