SFM #27: Hong Kong. Survival Guide for Pedestrians on Hong Kong’s Sidewalks

Written by Robert Wu for his family and friends

The sidewalks of Hong Kong are narrow compared to those of US cities, and they are much more crowded due to the millions of Hong Kongers living on this little territory. Walking on Hong Kong streets for the last twenty years taught me the survival skills and I want to share them with you.

  • Trust the laws of physics…. Momentum carries the day. When walking on sidewalks, always find and join that biggest mass of people walking in the same direction at the highest speed. The momentum of this large group overcomes obstacles like a hot knife cutting butter.
  • Taiwan has the accepted rule that pedestrians bear right and their sidewalks are orderly. Hong Kong has no such agreement and every pedestrian is free to take the most expedient way to reach his destination.
  • When awaiting traffic lights to change, seek out the best route through he opposite crowd. Imagine you are a knight facing off an opposing army. When the light changes to green, charge with your army towards the opposing army, lance in hand and seeking an easy opponent to slay. In the modern world, try to walk through the on-coming crowd without physical contact.
  • Don’t walk behind older folks for they would impede your speedy passage. Likewise don’t walk behind three people abreast for you would not be able to pass them for awhile.
  • Play pedestrian chicken. When five people try to squeeze through a sidewalk wide enough for three, act as if the others don’t exist. At the very last moment, avoid collision with a deft shrugging of your shoulders and hope the other person would shrug simultaneously.
  • If collision is unavoidable, act as if nothing happened and continue on your way. Don’t look back, apologize, or recognize that the collision even occurred.
  • Avoid eye contact with the opposite pedestrians. Once you are recognized as having seen the opposite pedestrians, you are responsible for avoiding them. Acting cool and feigning not seeing the others puts the responsibility on their shoulders.
  • Always think a few steps ahead. Be alert to other pedestrians’ behavior and spot those about to enter stores and make openings on the sidewalk for you to walk through. Set yourself on the right track to an opening a few steps down the road.
  • Walk and act as if the world’s burden is on your shoulders. This would excuse you from infractions for your mind is obviously preoccupied with some serious matters.
  • Walk as fast as you can. Others may give way and allow you to reach your emergency to rescue the world.
  • With these guidelines, you would survive on Hong Kong’s sidewalks. But taking these too seriously may cause a heart attack. Be forewarned.

Author: Robert Wu

Two engineering and one business degrees, all from NYU. National president of Organization of Chinese Americans, two terms. General manager of a multinational corporation in China. Retired but still active. Married to a wonderful wife, one son & one daughter.

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