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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    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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    Happy Birthday

    by cjg1 Written Mar 4, 2006

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    While I was staying at the Conrad I was surprised to receive a birthday card signed by then entire executive level staff as well as a piece of tiramisu. Thank you to you all.

    PS. I wish you made the bears like in the card. :-))

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    Chinese New Year

    by keeweechic Written Jun 10, 2004

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    Chinese New Year starts with the New Moon on the 1st day of the new year and ends on the full moon 15 days later. If you are visiting Hong Kong during Chinese New Year you may be lucky to witness the parade which travels through Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon. The streets are packed with people, as are the windows of the office buildings lining the route.

    There are a lot of cultural performers as well as marching bands from other countries. Usually in the past it has been held during the day but I believe it has now started to be held at night time – probably has more effect.

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    Chinese New Year Fireworks

    by keeweechic Written Jun 10, 2004

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    During the Chinese New Year time, there is also a Fireworks display which he held over Victoria Harbour. You need to pick the vantage point that suits you best on either side of the harbour and get there early to secure your spot. Probably one of the best places on Kowloon side is along the Avenue of Stars on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront. It is really quite a splendid show.

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    Jackie Chan

    by keeweechic Written Jun 12, 2004

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    I don't think there are too many people who haven't by now heard of Jackie Chan. Of course in Asia he has been around forever but only more popular in the USA and other parts of the world the past few years.

    Jackie had an office within our studios when I worked in Hong Kong and he joined the staff for lunch on Christmas Eve one year that I was working there. Seen here with Raymond Chow (Well known HK Film Producer who also produced the Bruce Lee movies) and our secretary Rosalie.

    Later that afternoon, I was leaving the studios well after everyone else, walking through the car park when a car pulled up beside me. It was Jackie, offering me a lift into town. Well, how can you refuse - certainly beats taking the train and although I had not intended to go into town, I soon changed my mind. After all it was Christmas Eve… why go home.

    He is the most charming person, sang the Chinese version of 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town' to me (it was a version relating to Jiang Zemin and the handover of Hong Kong). When we reached town, he gave me a kiss on both cheeks and wished me a merry Christmas. The girls in the office were beside themselves when I told them after Christmas. He's a sweetie in my books.

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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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    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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    Noon Day Gun

    by travelswithsteve Written Dec 20, 2005

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    Sadly a Custom no more since the 1997 handover to the PRC, was the firing of the Noon Day Gun.
    Started originally as a signal by the trading house Jardine Matheson (one of the oldest trading companies in HK and still in existance today) to welcome home their ships.

    After a dissagreement with the then Govenor of HK they were made to fire the cannon at noon every day.

    Located near the Excelsior Hotel.

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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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  • do you like chinese tea?

    by vividvivian Written Jan 25, 2003

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    a place where displays teaware. telling the history and development the cultrure of `yum cha` (drinking chinese tea)
    NOte: it's used to be a 3-flag house, now it's a museum as well as a historical building

    teaware museum, HK Park

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    MTR FARE SAVER MACHINE.

    by swissfondue Updated May 23, 2012

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    I wandered why locals were queueing briefly to scan their Octopus cards at a machine at the start of the Mid Levels Escalator so wanting to be a pretend local I joined the queue. When I got closer I found out it is an MTR Fare Saver Machine. Yay!!!

    MTR Fare Saver machines have been placed at various locations to reward people who choose to walk to certain designated MTR stations rather than take buses or taxis. The machines are located a few hundred metres from the designated station (in my case Sheung Wan, Central or Hong Kong) and allow Adult Octopus Card holders a discount of HK$2 on their next journey from the listed station provided the journey is made on the same day. The machine automatically adjusts the balance on the Octopus Card once you enter the designated station.

    The majority of these machines are not in tourist areas but I have also seen one at Harbour City Shopping Centre - designated stations to apply discount are Tsim Sha Tsui and Austin.

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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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    Terms and words used in HK

    by budapest8 Updated Oct 26, 2007

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    Ah-Ba - father (affectionate term)
    amah - house maid
    ban mui - Filipina (derogatory term)
    Cantonesecatty - Chinese unit of weight; approx. 1.33 lb/0.7 kg
    CMB - China Motor Bus; HK bus company known for reckless drivers
    choi sum - delicious Chinese vegetable
    cognac - as advertised, something to be consumed only in the presence of men
    congee - rice porridge
    conservative - in HK context, someone whose politics are somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun
    Consumer Council - HK government body that investigates retail fraud
    daai paai dong - low-priced street-side restaurant
    dim sum - tasty dumplings served literally a la carte, on carts wheeled table-to-table in Chinese restaurants.
    Disco Bay - Discovery Bay
    Discovery Bay - bland, antiseptic housing development on Lantau Island
    dollar 1 - Hong Kong dollar (HK$1.00) = US$0.13 r
    expat/expatriate - normally refers to Caucasian residents of Hong Kong
    faan gwailo - more belligerent term than gwailo
    fung shui - Chinese traditional belief in good fortune in relation to geographical alignment of structures; used by HK immigrants abroad to explain cutting down every tree in sight
    Giordano - clothing retailer founded by Jimmy Lai, an outspoken critic of Beijing
    Green card - identity card given to legal immigrants by the USA government (by the way, it isn’t really green)

    Hong Kong Island Star Ferry terminal OCT 2007

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    Terms and words used in HK

    by budapest8 Updated Oct 26, 2007

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    gwai - ghost; demon

    gwai jai - child gwailo (literally: junior demon)
    gwaipoh - female gwailo
    gwailo - “demon man”; in other words, a foreigner
    H.M.S. Tamar - base where British Navy was located in central business district
    hoi moon lai see - lucky money given by a groom to bridesmaids to make them “open the door” to his bride before a wedding
    Hunan - province in China
    Hung Hom - low rent district in Kowloon
    hung mo gwai - “red haired demon”; belligerent term for gwailo
    II - illegal immigrant
    Inland Revenue - tax department
    Iron Buddha - popular variety of high-quality Chinese tea
    Jiang Zemin - Chinese president; successor to Deng Xiaoping
    Joi gin - Goodbye

    Lan Kwai Fong - entertainment district in Hong Kong where all the trendy young foreigners hang out
    Lantau Island - outlying island; site of new airport
    Macanese - native of Macau
    Macau - Portuguese colony near HK; reverts to China in 1999
    mafoo - stable master; trainer of racing horses
    Mandatory Provident Fund - mandatory private pension fund for all HK employees

    Hong Kong Island l OCT 2007
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    Terms and words used in HK

    by budapest8 Updated Oct 26, 2007

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    Mark Six - Lottery; held twice weekly
    Mid-Levels - overpriced upper-middle-class district on HK Island; also renowned for potholes
    Mongkok - Kowloon district crowded with people and boutiques
    MPF - Mandatory Provident Fund: retirement fund which all HK workers are now required to set up
    MTR - Mass Transit Railway; the subway train system
    Mui, Anita - Hong Kong pop music diva
    Nathan Road - major shopping area and traffic corridor of Kowloon
    Nei ho - Cantonese for “How are you” or “hello”
    New Territories - northern half of Hong Kong’s area
    Ngoi foo - Father-in-law (wife’s father)
    Ni hao ma - Mandarin for “How are you” or “hello”
    Oolong - type of Chinese tea
    Pacific Place - posh shopping mall on HK Island
    Patten, Chris - last British Governor of Hong Kong; loathed by China
    PCCW - company founded by Richard Li
    The Peak - posh residential area on top of Victoria Peak
    PRC - People’s Republic of China
    renminbi - monetary unit in China
    Repulse Bay - upper class area on south side of Hong Kong island
    RHKJC - Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club

    Central District Hong Kong Oct 2007
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