“This ticket allows me to visit an additional country!” But wait…China or Hong Kong? I mean, the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong! Indeed, the Peninsula’s affairs are shrouded with mystery to most Westerners like myself. For this reason, I made it a goal to collect as many Hong Kong interesting facts as possible during my short stopover back in September.
From corruption and Mafia wars to pop star tutors and feng shui, I learned a good chunk about the “Fragrant Harbor” thanks to a few offbeat Walk In tours and a Spanish Hong Kong Island stroll (latter which was offered by a sweet Latin expat I stumbled upon at a Hungry Ghost Festival…wha!?). Continue below for that story and my other fascinating findings.
Hong Kong Interesting Facts: The Funny, The Quirky, The Gritty
First off, how do you even call a person from Hong Kong?! I learned those who ethnically identify as Chinese call themselves Hong Kong Chinese. Yet, most English speakers simply call them “Hong Kongers.”
As a Chinese dependency, the mainland’s president is also the president of Hong Kong.
Even though Hong Kong is not an independent country, it has its own currency: the Hong Kong dollar.
Talk about prosperity: Hong Kong has more Rolls-Royce per person than any other city in the world.
Architects in Hong Kong take feng shui into serious consideration when designing and building new projects. The philosophical system ensures elements are in harmony with their environment, which proponents believe bring good fortune in return.
A skyscraper is any building over 14 stories high. Hong Kong has more skyscrapers than New York City. In fact, it doubles the Big Apple’s amount. What?!
Indeed, the 1104-square-kilometer territory has the most skyscrapers in the world.
Hong Kong residents also enjoy the fastest Internet in the world, on average.
Make sure you eat noodles on your birthday: Hong Kongers believe this is one of the secrets to a long, prosperous life.
Hong Kong has two official languages: Cantonese, a southern Chinese dialect, and English. Yet, statistics show that 48% of the population claims to speak Mandarin–realistically making it the most common second-language.
English is not as widely spoken as I initially believed.
I was surprised.
This reminds me of some of the most delightful, creative usage of Engrish outside Japan:
Why English, you may ask? Hong Kong used to be a Crown Colony–and a British Dependent Territory later on–between 1841 to 1997.
Minus three years and eight months of Japanese occupation between 1941-1945…
Don’t be fooled, though: Hong Kongers are (statistically) the smartest people on Earth. How come? At 107, the autonomous territory’s population has the highest average IQ in the world.
As a society that values education, national college examinations are extremely competitive in Hong Kong. So competitive, in fact, that the most successful English exam tutors are treated like pop stars. As of,
some tutors are more famous and wealthier than many celebrities!
Another random Hong Kong fact? Most toilets run on seawater!
And Bruce Lee totally won the 1958 Hong Kong Cha-Cha Championship.
I AM NOT KIDDING.
One of the quirkiest celebrations in Hong Kong is the Hungry Ghost Festival. Somewhat gritty to an outsider, activities involve giving food, burning fake money, and other offerings to roaming spirits the seventh month in the lunar calendar. Otherwise? Ghosts and ancestors will be hungry–and cranky.
Speaking of gritty: triads are commonly seen as Hong Kong’s equivalent to Italy’s Mafia. Yet, some proponents argue not all triad members are criminally active. Moreover, triads are rather loose, lacking the rigid hierarchy of the Mafia.
Still: Hong Kong has a dark organized crime past…
Typical activities of criminally-active triads include drug trafficking, money-laundering, prostitution, and extortion. The height of their involvement in such activities was the 1960s and 70s.
Wife with a cheating husband? You may legally kill him under Hong Kong law–but only with your bare hands.
Don’t worry, though: you are almost 300 times less likely to be a victim of homicide in Hong Kong than in New Orleans, USA.
What a fascinating destination. Hong Kong: I’m most definitely coming back.
Do you know any other Hong Kong interesting facts? Share them below!
Special thanks to Vive Hong Kong and Walk in Hong Kong for the informative, complimentary tours! You are the main reasons why I fell in love with this interesting, wildly-different culture. This Latina is counting the days to visit again!