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"Is that a fishball?
Posted on March 31, 2011 by Dudley Dawson
To expatriates who love Hong Kong and find nothing…absolutely nothing wrong with it…

Ohhhhhhhhhh…Hong Kong is so wonderful! You can buy anything you want here! Everything is so easy! It’s so convenient! The public transport is so efficient! Don’t get me started about the efficiency! Things are so cheap! It’s a handy launching pad for travel around the world! Restaurants are so cheap! The foooooooooood is delicious! Don’t get me started about the food! Everything is so accessible! I make so much money here! My spending power is great! I am treated like a god! People revere me because I am strange and different, powerful and mysterious! I am Ironman…….er…..wtf?

Wow Ironman...you're so strong! The newspaper is telling us it's still winter...and yet here you are dressed like it's spring! You impressive westerner!

So goes the luxurious gibberish of the hopelessly blinkered, well satisfied western expatriate in Hong Kong.

There’s nothing wrong with such positive thinking…such optimism…but it’s easy to be optimistic when your job’s to shoot fish in a barrel! If you’re a western expatriate in Hong Kong, chances are you’re not working at a public toilet in Sham Shui Po or trying to hose grime off the side of a skillet in Yau Ma Tei. You wouldn’t even be waiting tables at Fairwood, trying to hawk mobile phone plans outside Sheung Shui MTR or pushing trolley loads of rice through sweaty alley ways in Wan Chai.

Deliriously content Ken

Chances are, you’re doing alright. So it’s easy to funnel that tunnel vision towards only those peachy things you want to see. It’s difficult to talk to these kinds of people who are in denial of the obvious frustrations that even locals admit. It’d be a lot easier if fabulously happy Helen and deliriously content Ken showed some spine…a bit of guts…why not call a fishball a fishball!?

I can’t relate to the Helens and Kens of Hong Kong – and you meet them occasionally…there’s plenty of them around I suppose. (I can’t imagine how many I’d meet if I spent 5 seconds hanging around some of the more swanky expat haunts. But that’s not my scene man.) Anyway, I just pencil these types in as a bit…odd. Friendly enough…don’t get me started about friendly…but all the same…a bit…strange!

Isn't Hong Kong wonderful!!! Yayyyy!

I wouldn’t want to be mistaken…I sure wouldn’t expect everyone to walk around seething about how much Hong Kong sucks. That’d be downright nutty. I don’t do that. Like any reasonably person, I see the good with the bad…the bad with the good. (It just happens that this site is about the bad) and I try to minimize my dislikes and frustrations…not block them out completely like a kid with his fingers in his ears.

Find a happy place!

Doesn’t matter. If you’re floating your way through some beautiful dream here in Hong Kong and refuse to acknowledge some of the inconsistencies, frustrations and teeth shatteringly annoying aspects of Hong Kong life, then you’ve either got way too much comforting, comforting money or you’re just a bit…strange.

Ah hahahahaha! I love Hong Kong!

Sure, you’re a guest in the country perhaps, and you like to consider yourself understanding and forgiving of the culture…maybe even on your best behaviour – a noble ambassador! But come on…you can tell me…don’t you want to put your fist through that guy’s head sometimes? The guy sitting right behind you on the bus with the crashing ring tone, stupendously loud voice and scandalous hygiene?

I know I do…and I’m a reasonable guy!"


As always, great post.

My partner and I have had these sorts of conversations almost daily since we arrived here. Part of the problem is that as much as we hate it here (oh, so very very much) we both regurgitate the same crap when people ask about our experience in Hong Kong (not dissimilar to that written above), whether it’s to be polite in a social setting or advance our network/careers. I’ll happily apply a liberal dose of BS to lessen the time we spend here…

Regarding the ‘strange’ expats, I’ve found that a large proportion of the expat males over the age of 30/35 are outright creepy. Just really, really odd. Many of them (by no means all, maybe around 1/3) creep the shit out of me. They are the weirdos you probably wouldn’t associate with back home in the West. They stand out, usually because they have aggressive looking local wives.

Finally, although it is tempting to belt the hell out of a lot of the people here, I find the best stress relief is to be crazy and walk down the sidewalk in a straight line (I know, it’s insane, but I’m modern). When the FDH’s/locals do their bloody zig-zag walk and cross right over the pavement just to walk into you (always looking at their BLOODY MOBILES), just keep going straight. I’ve knocked one businessman odf the side of the pavement and let a 25 year old girls head connect with my shoulder. Funnily enough, soon after the businessman a Phillipino maid was walking her dog and I accidentally trod on its paw; I felt a sense of empathy that sure as fuck didn’t come when the other people had walked into me.

Before I forget, don’t get me started on mainland businessman. FFS.

I tried to watch that video but had to stop, it made me so angry.

WHICH REMINDS ME! The next time one of those sneaky fuckers tries to cut the corner in the queue at immigration/the airport to get in front of me, I’ll lose it. Seriously, they haven’t exactly worked out straight lines here yet…
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