Going Bonkers for Honkers

Community Highlights Asia Going Bonkers for Honkers

Of course, after a week of cloud, Japan put on a stunning day just as we were leaving. Not that we can really complain about the weather - it barely rained for the two weeks and temperatures were perfect for sightseeing.

Alas, we were off. We used our Japan Rail passes for the last time on our way to Kansai Airport and flew off with budget airline HK Express. The only notable event was when the person at the check-in desk tried to pronounce our names with a massive, confused smile. 'Heselevu' was very close, but there was barely any semblance of Macindoe.

Probably a good opportunity here to write about a few miscellaneous observations from Japan.

We'd heard previously about the insane work culture, and it was quite common to see people in suits emerging from office buildings en masse after 8 or 9pm. Perhaps being overworked is linked to people being very willing – and able – to sleep on trains, a surprisingly common sight. No matter when the train was operating, or what type of train it was, you could usually find at least one person asleep in your carriage. But this is surely part of the reason why Japanese people have so few kids. Would-be mothers, who would certainly be expected to be the primary carer for their child or children, have to choose between children and a career.

Apart from that incisive social commentary, we don’t have too much serious stuff to say.

As we’ve mentioned before, the Japanese are incredibly polite and tolerant of fellow city dwellers. Some big cities can feel suffocating because you feel that you have to constantly fight for some personal space in the crowd. But in Japan, it’s almost gone too far the other way.

We witnessed a great moment in Hiroshima, near the Peace Park fittingly, where a school student was about to cross the road at a pedestrian crossing where there was one car coming. The student was insisting that the car went before her, and the driver of the car was insistent that the student walk across first. It took some time for this stalemate to end.

On Miyajima Island, the narrow streets are crowded with tourists, but the taxis still need to get past. They beep when they have to come through, but this is not a traditional ‘beep’ sound. Instead, a speaker from the taxi says ‘Sumimasen’ (excuse me) in a friendly voice to let people know when to move.

It’s little wonder then that the Japanese are such expert queuers. Caroline remarked that they make the Brits look like amateurs. Queueing for trains, for popular restaurants, for lifts, for anything – they form an orderly line, which of course, moves in a very orderly fashion.

Speaking of order, they love their one-way systems at popular attractions. On our very first day, the digital art museum we went to boasted that they didn’t have any ‘routes’ to follow; instead you could follow your own path. We thought that was an odd thing to point out, but after a bit more experience we can see why: almost every other attraction we went to – gardens, museums, galleries, castles – had a one-way system that told you which way to go.

That said, there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to when you’re asked to walk on the left or the right side of stairs, paths or escalators. They drive on the left, but pedestrians seem to need to look for signs to indicate which side they should walk on. Not that anyone would reprimand you if you got it wrong – the Japanese are far too polite for that.

Bonus pictures from the snacks we took on to the plane:

We only eat cookies with sufficient almond powder

I'm not even sure what to caption this one


I've been to Hong Kong twice – and loved it both times – so was keen to show Caroline around a bit. And eat egg tarts.

We got in around 4pm, and it was about 6pm by the time we arrived at our hotel, which is just a small room on the 11th floor of a residential apartment block in busy Tsim Tsa Shui, so we haven't seen much yet.

Taken from the bus on the way into town

We went for a walk around Kowloon Park, where we ate delicious dumplings for dinner.


And we wandered down to Tsim Tsa Shui promenade, where we saw the Symphony of Lights (a light show set to music) over Victoria Harbour.


After two weeks in Japan, Hong Kong's streets seem incredibly busy, but somehow more human, with the odd sighting of litter, the occasional smell of sewerage, people jaywalking (shock horror) and a bit more excitement. Looking forward to exploring more tomorrow!

This featured blog entry was written by samoline from the blog Samoline's travels.
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By samoline

Posted Wed, May 22, 2019 | Hong Kong | Comments