Put Your Best Foot Forward

5 04 2011

One reality that you can’t escape when you come to Hong Kong is the amount of walking you’ll do.  There’s a great public transportation system in place which makes it fairly convenient getting around town.  Since most people here do not own a car, they rely on the public buses, subways, ferries, taxis and trains to get from one place to the next destination. But no matter where you’re going, or what type of public transportation you use, you’ve got to do a fair bit of walking to get there – walk from your apartment to the subway station, walk from the subway station to your office; or walk through the mall to get to the grocery store.

That’s the reality of living in Hong Kong – and for the most part we don’t mind it.  But of course, there are exceptions to the rule.  When you’ve been on your feet all day long – the last thing you want to do is to ‘walk’ home.

Another part of walking in Hong Kong is learning to deal with the crowds.  After all, with nearly 8 million people on 426 square miles of land (1,104 sq. km) there aren’t too many places you can go where you won’t find other people.  And with most people using public transportation, you’ve got to learn to navigate your way through these crowds.  In fact, while our three kids never drove a vehicle during their teenage years here in Hong Kong, they got great preparation for driving on a crowded freeway just by learning to safely make their way through the crowds of people on the streets of Hong Kong.

One of our former co-workers (who will go un-named for obvious reasons) used to ‘play’ a game on his way into the office.  He took several forms of public transportation, and the goal was to get from his home to the office without bumping into or running over other commuters along the way.  For every person he bumped into, he lost a set amount of points.  If he intentionally ran over a person in his way – he lost all of his points.  Some days he made it to the office without bumping into anyone; some days he had lost all of his points before he got to the office, and needed a few minutes to quiet himself before starting his day!

If you were to walk down one of the sidewalks with us, you would notice several different styles of walking.  Here are some examples: ‘the saunter’ – not really in a rush to get anywhere but usually walking in the center of the sidewalk or path;  ‘the stop and go’-  I think I’ll go here, no maybe there, no maybe I need to go back over there.; ’talking on the cell phone / playing games amble’ – too involved in their conversation/game to notice where they’re walking until the last second; ‘the drift’ – not to be confused with ‘the saunter’  as these individuals find it difficult to walk in a straight line; the ‘dodge and weave’ – this person becomes an expert in finding or making spaces to pass others in an efficient fashion; and ‘the power walk’ – they’re in a rush to get from Point A to Point B and you probably don’t want to get in their way!

One of the challenges in living overseas is being able to learn the local customs and manners.  But beyond that, we have to adapt our ways to fit into the culture.  We’ll let you guess our preferred walking style while we’re here in Hong Kong!

Until we ‘bump’ into you next time.

Joel & Debbie Chute

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2 responses

7 04 2011
Jan

Ha, ha — love this topic in light of our shared experiences at Disneyland. I’d say you are most certainly dodge and weave, especially you, Joel! Could you send me your mailing address?

15 09 2013
Here and There – Part I | Bamboo Chutes Blog

[…] trying to work your way through the mass of people.  As we mentioned before, people have their own way of walking, and the challenge is to safely and quickly work your way through the crowd – something that will […]

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