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11 signs that you’re a real Hongkonger

How to separate the fakers from the real deal

choi hung estate
Photograph: KiH.
By Time Out Hong Kong |
We hate to burst your fishball-scented bubble, but just living and working in this city doesn't automatically qualify you as a real Hongkonger. But, that's not to say that you won't ever become one. There are many common misconceptions about Hong Kong, but one thing's for sure, we have some real peculiar quirks and habits that only a true Hongkonger would ever say or do. Read on and see how many you can tick off.

RECOMMENDED: If you're still relatively new to the city, be careful not to ask certain questions that will set us off. Meanwhile, get to know Hong Kong one bite at a time and check out these uniquely Hong Kong dishes you need to try at least once.

Signs that you’re a real Hongkonger

chinglish text
Photograph: LCL

You type out Cantonese phonetics in text

Sure, texting and typing in English is the fastest way to communicate, but a real child of Hong Kong can seamlessly combine and swap between Chinese and English like a boss by spelling out phonetics. You know, like typing ‘ng goi’ in place of thanks etc.

instant noodles
Mat & Chris Pua

Carbs are life

Sign one: Your body is 80 percent carbohydrates instead of water. You literally get grumpy when you don’t have some form of carb in your belly. For you, carbs work as any meal. Breakfast? Congee or macaroni. Lunch? Stir-fried noodles. Dinner? A big ol’ bowl of rice. And snack? Instant noodles.

hong kong bubble tea
Photograph: JL

Bubble teas are also life

Walk around the streets of Mong Kok, and you'll quickly realise Hong Kong has a love affair with bubble tea, one that leads us through the highs and lows of life. From traditional cheese milk cap tea to the Instagram worthy brown sugar milk tea, you'll never fall short of bubble tea options in Hong Kong. We even have a guide on all the ways you can customise your bubble tea order.

Woman with wet hair
Photograph: Shutterstock

You never sleep with your hair wet

Sleeping with wet hair is the biggest offence in Hong Kong culture. It ought to have been instilled in you that it’s a big no-no. “You’ll get headaches for the rest of your life,” they say or, “You’re asking to be sick.” Hairdryers are a must in the house.

six hand gesture
Photograph: KiH.

The ‘hang loose’ sign really refers to the number 6

Any true Hongkonger will know that the 'hang loose' sign typically associated with Hawaiian surf culture really means the number six in Hong Kong. That auntie in the wet market isn't trying to gesture to her surf buddies – she's making a sign that represents the number six with her hands. It's just a funny coincidence that the Chinese character for six (六) looks like the 'hang loose' sign.

Hong Kong TV commercials
Photograph: Time Out/Shutterstock

You know the local childhood commercials by heart

Seriously, they're like earworms. Maybe television commercials were simply better back in the day, or you can chalk it up by the sheer amount of TV you used to watch. Either way, you somehow have the ability to recite every line to these ads and can sing the jingles of numerous old advertisements. We can bet that you remember Sze Hing Loong roasted peanuts or Weisen-U.

cha chaan ting water
Photograph: AC

You never drink cha chaan teng water

Hong Kong’s cha chaan tengs have a lot to offer: pineapple buns with butter, milk tea, egg tarts, and so much more. However, in order to determine whether or not someone is a true Hongkonger, we judge them not by what they order, but by whether or not they drink the water offered on the table. While tourists and fresh-off-the-plane expats will start sipping on the cup of water that the servers put on their tables, locals shake their heads and start washing their cutleries in the cup of water on their own tables.

Photograph: Pexels/Adrianna Calvo

Umbrellas are not just for rain

Umbrellas are a double-edged sword for Hongkongers. They’re the perfect tool to shield us against sudden downpours during summer and harsh UV rays – but boy we also love to complain about anyone who pokes us with their brolly. Oh, and umbrellas are also pretty handy when it comes to combating pepper spray and championing democracy.

Queues wikicommons
Photograph: Courtesy CC/WikiCommons/Chong Fat

Queuing up is like a religion

Hongkongers are suckers for freebies – and love to be the first to try something new. That’s how we end up standing in line for over an hour every lunchtime or weekend just to get our hands on freebies, the occasional incredible cheap sale, or a seat at the hottest new restaurant opening.

Photograph: Pexels/Daria Shevtsova

Cardigans or scarves are your greatest armour

The air conditioning in Hong Kong malls and restaurants only has two settings: Artic or nothing. Knowing this, the true Hongkonger never leaves home without at least some form of a cardigan or scarf – even in summer. At the office, you have a designated coat solely for surviving the ridiculously and totally unnecessary AC temperatures.

Hong Kong Airport Department Gate

You always take photos at the airport departure gate

Because how else will people know that you’re going on vacation and be jealous of your exotic holiday? The obligatory photo is taken just before you board your plane, with your passport and boarding pass held up against the airport departure gate. Another thing you have to share on Facebook: a map of where exactly you’re travelling to. Ah, the life of a jet setter.

There are so many things we're proud of in Hong Kong

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