Picking your battles

A couple days ago, an innocent HK lady was attacked on the MTR by a psychotic Mainland woman. After making eye contact, the Mainland woman thought she heard the HK lady cursing her, so she walked up to her, took out her knife (which she normally used for self defense, she said) and started slashing. Even after the knife broke in two, she picked up the blade with her bare hands to continue her attack!

But enough with my boring commentary. Watch this action-packed video (courtesy of Apple Daily) to see how it all went down! This has gotta be one of my favourite things about Hong Kong: serious events (usually gory and violent) turned comical thanks to silly comic strips and in-house animations. I mean, imagine the delight of the team who had to make these visuals overnight!

“OK, who wants to draw the crazy lady?”
“Me me me me meee!”
“Who wants to do the voiceover of the girl getting attacked?”
“Ooo, me me me! I’ve got an amazing shriek!”

The soundtrack to the video is just awesome and I love all the irrelevant details. I mean, maybe I’m missing something but why did they mention that the guy who picked up the knife in the end had just bought a cake (is it an attempt at irony, or simply an ad for Maxim’s!?)?

Anyway, this incident has made me rethink all the battles I usually pick in the MTR. From staring competitions to the ol’ push and shove (and occasional kick), I wonder if it’s just best to put on your coldest stone face and act like no one around you really exists. Hmm…sound familiar? So if you’re still wondering why HK people never make eye contact, you now have your answer!

Holy moley

It’s gotta be one of the most commonly asked questions in Hong Kong: “Why do Chinese people have such huge (and hairy) moles?” Is it the pollution? Or what they eat? Are we all destined to suddenly grow a big-ass intrusive mole (or 10) somewhere on our bodies? Why don’t people get them removed, or at least trim those long and wiry hairs off?

Have no fear, Miss Fong is here to answer all your questions about Chinese peoples’ big, black and hairy moles.

When I was young, my Grandma used to tell me I had moles because flies were taking dumps on my face. If only I would wash my face, I wouldn’t be so speckled, she’d say. Another one of her theories was that I was eating too much chocolate, which was turning me into a black person one dot at a time. Although it was a cool idea, the closest it got me to being black was giving me a big ol’ booty.

In Hong Kong, I’m reminded every week by my facial beauticians that my once charming beauty marks are now absolutely hideous, and that I’ve got to get rid of them ASAP (for the ‘affordable’ price of HK$200 per mole!). Counting them aloud in an ewwwy voice, they tell me how big and ugly they’re going to get, threatening me with scary phrases such as ‘3rd eye’ and ‘clumpy lumps’. ‘What a waste it would be for someone as pretty as you to become so ugly’, they’d say.  

I’ve used a variety of comebacks on them but my personal all-time favourite is “I don’t care about being beautiful anyway!” which caused all of them to widen their eyes into a ‘Are you out of your mind!?!’ expression. It’s really no use to argue with them, but now I have another reason to turn down their aggressive mole-removal sales pitches:  MOLEOSOPHY (the study of moles)!! 

You see, in Chinese culture, every mole has a meaning. Moles can be lucky or unlucky depending on where they are located, what colour they are, and how large they appear in proportion to our body. Some even say that the moles on our bodies are in reality secret imprints carried over from our previous lives…perhaps a way for a lover from your past life to find you again!

As superstitious as they are, the Chinese have developed a detailed map of moles for your body and face, so you can look up exactly what your moles (or your lover’s) mean. In general:

  • Moles on your back represent some kind of burden (cut ’em!), where as moles on your front attract success and good luck (keep ’em!)
  • A shiny, smooth and bright-looking mole is considered a good mole
  • A mole with hair indicates the mole is alive, which is also a sign of good mole. Males should keep the hair, while a female can trim it.
  • A mole on the right breast indicates laziness, whereas a mole on the left breast belongs to active and energetic people who generally get what they want in life.
  • People who have a mole on their buttocks are un-ambitious and content with any mode of living (read: bum).
  • Moles on genitals lead to sexual addiction (good or bad, you decide).

So, according to the facial mole map, I tend to have problems related to diet or food and need to prevent unwanted sexual advances. Hmm…interesting…~_^

Grooming: Not just for dogs

For all the guys out there who have the same views as Ma Fan Jai about bushy ladies, this may come as good news to you!

I was browsing through HKU’s School of Professional and Continuing Education when I came across a rather peculiar course called “Grooming for the Female Executive.

The course costs HK$2,200 and includes six 3-hour sessions where HK ladies learn about Interview & Presentation Skills, Health & Skin Care and Colour and Professional Image.

Here is the detailed breakdown of what the course covers:

1) The importance of first impressions

Look cute, don’t say a word, but giggle often.

2) Understanding personal style and developing your own professional image

Always, ALWAYS carry a luxury bag to appear posh and stylish.

3) Achieving credibility through a polished appearance and effective style strategies

Make sure your nails are nicely manicured (preferably gel nails with gemstones) and wear as much lace and bows possible.

4) Professional dressing guidelines by using colours

Wear mostly black, it will make you look slimmer.

5) Creating professional image by using the right “make-up” tips

Use eyelid tape to create double eyelids (because nobody likes ugly single eyelids) and always attach false lashes to make your eyes look bigger.

6)“Healthy Choices” for healthy body

Do not eat more than 300 calories a day, or you’ll be labeled a pork chop!

7) Taking care of your skin and establishing a good skin care regime

Invest in the most expensive laser facial treatment plan you can find that makes you as white as Michael Jackson.

8) The business of good etiquette and manners -doing the right thing

Chew with your mouth wide open and focus on watching that TVB show instead of conversing over dinner.

9) Do’s and don’ts of Western dining

Don’t bother waiting for other peoples’ plates to arrive before digging in yourself, or your food will get cold!

10) How to make “small talk” matter.

Bring up Hello Kitty anytime, anywhere! It’s the perfect conversation starter!

Now, whether or not the course covers actual ‘grooming’ (ie. armpits, legs, etc.), I’m not sure, but isn’t it nice to know that clueless female executives in HK have somewhere to go when they need some help? ;p

Fashion is fake

A friend of mine was visiting HK a couple months ago when he noticed some locals wearing thick plastic framed glasses without any lenses. Over a bubbling pot of pork bone soup, he asked me, “What’s the point of wearing glasses with no lenses?!” At the time, I thought it was pretty redonkulous too, but now that I’ve had a few months to think about it, I have to say that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it!

See, the trend of wearing nerdy glasses came to Hong Kong via our lovely neighbors Japan and Korea, where cute girls would strike unbearably cute wide-eyed poses with oversized glasses to become (if possible) even cuter. Soon, many HK girls were seen wearing these glasses all over town, first with fake plastic lenses, but soon without any lenses since they were fake and useless anyway.

At first, I thought it was kind of shallow to wear glasses without real lenses or any at all, and even though I did end up buying a pair with clear lenses (yea so what!?!), I always told people that they were prescripted. For whatever reason, I was embarrassed to admit that I was only wearing them for fashion, to look smarter or simply look a bit different that day.

It turns out that the ‘glasses with no lenses‘ discussion is quite a heated one, where REAL glasses wearers lash out at so-called posers with comments like:

  • Stupid, fake, tacky, totally ridiculous!
  • It’s like we ‘REAL’ glasses wearers are being mocked
  • At least buy glasses with lenses so you can pretend better!
  • I think this is the one fashion trend that serves pretty much no purpose.
  • They’re about as useful as suspenders that aren’t legitimately holding your pants up, or a belt around a dress!

But let me ask you this, is there really a point to ANY fashion trend? That isn’t fake or pretending to be something else? Like, when someone starts wearing a leather biker jacket, do the people who have been wearing leather biker jackets for years say, “OMG, those other people wearing leather now are SO fake! They don’t even ride bikes! They should go back to denim and stop mocking us!”

And what about wearing accessories like earrings, belts or headbands? Do people ever say, “Why are you wearing earrings? They serve no purpose at all! How vain can you get!?!” If everyone thought like that, we’d probably all be ‘too embarrassed’ to decorate ourselves with anything more than plain t-shirts and jeans.

The fact is, everything we wear these days, whether it’s a Nike t-shirt (why not Adidas or Puma?!) or sparkly sequined top (are you trying to blind me?!) serves no real purpose other than fashion. The only difference is that in Hong Kong, there seems to be less rules on what can become a fashion statement (just look at these cast-inspired sandals)! So, to get back to the glasses… please fake yourselves out!!

An oven for your stool sample

One of the things I love about Hong Kong is the amount of freebies that get thrown around, some of which seem just a tad random. Take for example the recent campaign by ESDlife, where you can choose from a free toaster oven, massage machine or hair dryer depending on the type of Body Check you purchase. For those who don’t have a need for the three gift items above, there’s always the easy, no-fail option of taking HK$150 worth of Park n’ Shop coupons instead.

I never knew that so many varieties of Body Checks existed, nor had I ever imagined that companies would need to throw in freebies to attract customers. Silly me thought that Body Checks were just something people had to do once a year no matter what, gift or no gift.

Here in Hong Kong though, choosing a Body Check is more confusing than ordering an 8-course banquet dinner. First, there seem to be a myriad of tests that are identical to each other (plus or minus a few tests), so you really have to choose the specific body parts that you’d like to have checked. Next, certain services are treated as add-ons instead of the ‘main course’, such as a pelvic ultrasound, liver tumor or breast tumor markers.

So, if you decide to have your breasts checked (which is kind of important, wouldn’t you say) you’d have to forgo the Cervix Test (aka Pap Smear), which is also pretty fundamental! In comes the ideal option – buy the comprehensive Body Check and add one Breast Check on the side for “ONLY HK$490 more!!”

I have to admit that their marketing is pretty darned extensive, offering special deals for “Two People Together (二人同行)”, “Urban Diseases Health Check (都市病健康檢查)” (a MUST for HK dwellers I’m sure :P) and “Buy more save more” percentage discounts (spend over $2,500 and get 5% off, etc.)

However, what worries me is their disclaimer at the bottom of each test description page that says: “*All tests are not for the purpose of medical diagnosis or treatment.” So, what the f@#$k are they for then?!

Support the seniors!

We’re used to seeing them bulldoze through crowds and hobble around MTR exits in hopes of collecting your free used newspapers, but there’s a new kind of senior that’s been spotted around several MTR stations (including CWB).

This time, they’re the shaky, near-death seniors with goggley glasses, spotted skin, missing teeth and a bright red bag of boxed cookies slung over their sloped shoulders.

“Please buy my cookies,” they repeat, one after another in toad-like croaks. Although I’m usually immune to their tactics, I just couldn’t walk away this time from one severely hunchbacked granny.

It took me a few cries of ‘por por’ before she noticed me, but she eventually (read: in slow motion) turned around and extended a box of cookies towards me. Turns out that they were raising money for the Helping Hand society, which runs several old folks home here in HK. Seeing not only that was she old, tired but missing her right thumb as well (sob!), I decided to buy a box for 35 dollars and wished her a good rest of her life.

When I got home, I did some research on what kind of organization would put these frail, old seniors (that they had vowed to protect) in the middle of rush hour traffic only to feel the harsh sting of rejection 100x over. I discovered that I’m probably not the only one who felt that this was ‘cruelty to seniors’ because Helping Hand themselves had already posted several videos of their star cookie sellers, including:

I was surprised to see that many of them actually seemed quite happy to be out there selling cookies (that or Helping Hand neglected to post any footage of the bitter and resentful seniors). Watching these videos made me smile, and I’m so proud of all the seniors who are brave enough to get out there and sell those cookies with no fear of being rejected, knocked over (or even killed, shhh!). You go, Grandma/pa! 😀

What’s yours is mine

One thing about living in Hong Kong is that you’ve got to learn to share. Whether it’s personal space, the (smoggy) air or even food, I’ve come to realize that nothing’s really mine.

See, I’m the type of person who’s never liked to share. Call it a phobia if you will, but it grosses me out. Biting from the same apple? Ew. Sharing a straw? No way. Licking from the same ice cream cone? Hell no! Eating someone’s leftover rice/noodle dish (in all its messy mixed sauce glory)? Excuse me while I puke.

Unfortunately, I’ve encountered a few situations where I’ve had no choice but to share. Like in China for instance, when I’m eating in a group. I usually order a small set meal that comes with rice and 2-3 small dishes that I picked out personally, but there’s always SOMEONE at the table who will stick their chopsticks into my dishes (without asking) and just peck away as if it was public property.

I’m sure this is all normal behaviour in China given that it’s a collectivist society, but my selfish Western self is screaming, “Back off! Get your own dishes!!”

Another time, I had brought a bag of grapes with me for a taxi ride into the city with a colleague. I kindly offered him some, but was appalled when he took possession of the entire bag without once offering it back to me. I managed to pluck a few grapes for myself once or twice during our 15 minute ride, but I couldn’t help thinking, “What the @#$!!! Those are MY freakin’ grapes, and here i am feeling bad for taking them back!”

To be honest, I don’t really mind sharing (as long as it doesn’t involve sharing spit) but I’d be much happier if it was I who offered or them who asked. It’s just a different feeling when you’re suddenly forced to share, especially when the huge box of juicy sliced papaya you were looking forward to ALL afternoon is reduced to 3 mushy pieces after your desk is stormed by colleagues armed with small plastic forks.

Use it or lose it

Before I moved back to Hong Kong, I had always thought things would be much easier here. I mean, coming from the Netherlands where the three most spoken words (in English) must’ve been “That’s not possible“, I had just expected HK to be a place where rules, no matter what, could always be bended.

Fast forward to today. Me and my colleagues are having lunch at a modern Shanghainese restaurant in Wanchai. Our party of five is not yet complete, but we want to order the Set Lunch for 5 consisting of 5 appies and 5 mains. We ask the lady if we can order 2 appies to start with while we wait for the rest of our crew, but she puts on a pained expression and says, “Oh, so, so sorry, our system can’t handle that. Either you order everything at once, or you wait until the rest of your party arrives to place your complete order. There’s no way to just order two appetizers first…”

My colleague pumped up the nice factor and asked again if we could please stagger our orders, since we had no idea what our other colleagues wanted to eat, but the lady frowned once more and explained the system in pain-staking detail again.

I stared at her and thought…What do you mean you can’t? Since when did technology become such a big obstacle for simple everyday matters, especially for something as basic as placing an order in a restaurant? Why can’t you just physically get us what we want, take a mental note (or write it down somewhere non-digitally *GASP*) and then enter everything in your silly system after?

Boggled, we ended up making the whole order at once, but I just couldn’t get over her stupid, stubborn ways. I know we rely on technology a lot these days and it generally does help us work more efficiently, but technology can also cause many people to forget that they have something called a BRAIN.

Beware of Pervert

O-M-G. My colleagues just enlightened me with this video today, and all I gotta say is… I ain’t touching no MTR poles no more!!

Note: Disturbing content below…