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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    Levels of respect in bowing

    by gloopgloop Written Sep 4, 2006

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    There are different levels of respect shown in bowing. For normal circumstances, such as paying respect to ancestors, three bows standing up or on the knees followed by three bows (kowtow) are used. Kowtow is kneeling down and bowing till the head touches the ground. Bowing is done after joss sticks and paper tokens have been set alight and presented.

    On occasions where great respect needs to be shown (i.e. paying homage to a god), "three kneels and nine bows", are called for. The person goes down on their knees in front of the altar, and completes three kowtows, then advances a step forward on their knees to complete another three kowtows followed by the final step forward to complete the last set of three kowtows.

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    Watch your hands

    by gloopgloop Written Sep 5, 2006

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    Always hand a piece of paper to somebody using both hands. This shows respect. This especially rings true if the receiver is somebody important.

    You will notice that Hong Kong Chinese always hand business cards with two hands (coupled with a slight lowering of the head). If you use one hand, you will be considered rude.

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    Big Bowl Feast

    by gloopgloop Updated Sep 22, 2006

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    "Poon Choi" or "Big Bowl Feast" - a type of food served in metal basins, this feast has become so popular that many people visit the New Territories specifically to try this age-old delicacy. Used to be wooded basins but changed to metal basins for health reasons.

    Poon Choi often includes pork, beef, lamb, chicken, duck, abalone, ginseng, shark's fin, fish maw, prawn, crab, dried mushroom, fish ball, squid, dried eel, dried shrimp, pig skin, bean curd sticks and radish. The ingredients vary village to village.

    Once cooked the ingredients are layered in a basin, with ingredients that can absorb sauces such as radish, dried eel, dried shrimp, pig skin and bean curd on the bottom. Braised pork is placed in the middle layer while traditional village delicacies such as chicken, duck, fish and prawn are left till last.

    Poon Choi is normally eaten layer by layer instead of "stirring everything up", but those who cannot wait will often choose to pick up the juicy radish at the bottom first using shared chopsticks.

    Formerly a dish exclusive to villages and served only during religious rituals, festivals, special occasions and wedding banquets, Poon Choi can now be enjoyed at many restaurants in the autumn and winter or on special occasions throughout the year.

    I personally prefer the village version as restaurants don't have the village atmosphere.

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  • Sailing in a Sampan

    by Mariajoy Updated Feb 23, 2006

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    Thousands upon thousands of Chinese lived on board their boats, working and raising children and carrying on with their daily lives, doing their washing, cooking, shopping and everything they needed to do, aboard their home. We had the privilege to sail in one of these sampans, where 4 little boys played while their mum skilfully navigated the boat to our destination.

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    Gift Giving

    by gloopgloop Written Sep 5, 2006

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    It's good manners when visiting people to bring some sort of gift, such as flowers or chocolates, especially if you've been invited for a meal. Money is generally not appropriate (and indeed would be an insult), but there are times when you are supposed to give money - weddings, funerals and the Chinese Lunar New Year. The money should be given in a red envelope. The equivalent of the hongbao, or red package containing money given at the time of the Chinese spring festival, is called laisee in Hong Kong.

    To complicate matters further, a Chinese person with good manners is supposed to refuse (at least once, maybe twice) any gift you offer. You are supposed to insist. They will then 'reluctantly' accept. To accept a gift too readily is considered greedy and will cause the recipient to lose face. This makes it really hard to know if the person is trying to refuse the gift because they don't want it.

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    Hong Kong Dollar

    by SLLiew Updated Oct 5, 2006

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    It is interesting to note that 3 different banks issued the Hong Kong currency - China Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Hong Kong Shanghai Bank each with their own design.

    Hong Kong Dollar has been pegged to the US dollar.
    HKD 7.8 = USD 1

    Coins: 10¢, 20¢, 50¢, $1, $2, $5, $10

    Banknotes: Freq. used $10, $20, $50, $100, $500
    Rarely used $1000

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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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    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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    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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    Currency

    by dragontml Written Dec 9, 2003

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    Hong Kong Dollar (HK$) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of HK$1000, 500, 100, 50, 20 and 10. Coins are in denominations of HK$10, 5, 2 and 1, and 50, 20 and 10 cents.

    Foreign currency can be changed in banks, hotels and bureaux de change. Banks usually offer the best rate of exchange.

    MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club and Visa are widely accepted.

    Accepted almost everywhere. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take travellers cheques in Pounds Sterling, US Dollars or Euros.

    There are no restrictions on the import or export of either local or foreign currency.

    Mon-Fri 0900-1630, Sat 0900-1230.

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    Houses

    by shivan Updated Sep 25, 2003

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    Hong Kong houses seem beehives. Not a good way to live I fear, even in these "advanced" areas of China, I fear to imagine houses in the rural areas of this wonderful country...

    I travelled in the country later in my trip and the situation was waaaay worse than here.

    Beehives

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    more houses

    by shivan Updated Sep 25, 2003

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    the large number of conditioners visible by the walls is a clear sign of how hot and humid the climate is.

    Hongkong people, even if richer than the greater part of their chinese fellows, still seem to be force to live in small spaces, or maybe we europeans are used to too may comforts. Who knows?

    another beehive

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    Keep smiling / keep attitude

    by Vita500 Written Jun 17, 2005

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    One of the worst things for Asians to happen is loosing face in front of other people.
    Therefore, always try to keep attitude and smiling. Don't try to force your opinion onto someone.

    People are also much more polite and at your service if you treat them with respect and you might find it easier to get what you were looking for at the end!!!

    Keep smiling!

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    How groomed dogs can be

    by picek Updated Jul 29, 2009

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    We were walking on Hong Kong Island from Central to Victoria park one day in February - it was actually very cloudy and didn't see Kowloon from here. We went over Wanchai promenade which is great place to see dogs and people interact with eachother - because that is one of the few public areas where dogs are allowed to get some fun. Did you notice that dogs aren't that plentiful around HK? These whose we saw here were really taken good care of and well groomed - owners looked proud of them; but it also seems that there's latent competition on whose dog looks the best :)
    Wanchai promenade is actually nice place to sit down in weather like that - because when you cannot see views you can watch animals playing and people socializing. I think it's polite if you ask the carer before (if) you want to caress the dog; in the end you may enter some really interesting conversations.

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Hong Kong Local Customs

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