If you are taking a journey to Hong Kong, I’ll let you in on a few things I ran into that were interesting and/or inconvenient. Always do your research beforehand!
- Get your money situation figured out to the last detail before you arrive. Some smaller banks may not have options for delivering money to you overseas, so ask your bankers what’s up. In my case, I brazenly assumed a certain bank, which we will refer to as “Bells Bargo”, would automatically provide international services, but that was folly on my part. The situation got sorted out, however, with the help of some helpful bankers. Apparently Bells Bargo just needed to “activate” my PIN for international ATM use. Easy stuff. Always do your research!
- In general, don’t take pictures of shopping displays or products at retail outlets. I don’t know the reasoning behind this for sure, but I’ve been told not to take pictures more than once. If you really must take pictures, I suppose you could ask the shopkeeper, but you may need to know some…
- Cantonese. Learn not just the conversational phrases and basic verbs, but other helpful nouns such as “receipt”, “picture”, “camera”, and names of certain foods you like. I run into the most trouble when ordering food.
- Umbrellas get used all the time. In the sun, they’re good for shade. And, of course, they’re decent in the rain. There are some pretty nifty looking ones.
- If you’re sick, wear a nose/mouth mask. Why? Because everybody else does it here. It’s a matter of courtesy. The first time I saw one, I’ll admit that I freaked out a little; I thought maybe there was something serious going around.
- Get an Octopus Card as soon as possible. Just do it. Unless you like paying cash for everything with exact change. The card is used at many stores, but more importantly for fares on public transport vehicles.