Today I passed my “Level 2” certification for sailing. I can now rent my own sailboat and be the master of the sea (well… at least along the coast).
The phenomenon that seems to only occur in Hong Kong with majority of “private” vehicle drivers.
I would be driving along on a HK highway and the car in front would most often be speeding. This would only be the case up until he/she enters a tunnel. All of a sudden this driver would slow to just or well below the posted speed limit. Then as soon as he/she exits the tunnel, this driver would speed above the posted limit again; in some case well above the limit.
Driving habits of people in HK change dramatically when a police vehicle cruises by.
All it takes is a police motorcycle to be cruising near by, and the traffic will slow to at least 10 km below the posted speed limit.
Are people in HK too paranoid? Do they always think that they are doing something wrong?
Get a move on!!
People around the world frequently take manners for granted.
The definitions of good manners are as diverse if not more than there are different cultures. These manners are localized and most of the time defined by the society as a whole, and bad manners in one place may be accepted in another.
From the perspective of a North American or European (I believe), the manners of Hong Kong citizens in general are not that great; some may go to the extreme and call it dreadful.
I am sure many of you have experienced the following examples:
1. Door Way – When people in HK approach a doorway, they will choose the quickest way through it; reminds me of air released from a balloon. If one of the doors is opened by a pedestrian, everyone from both directions will cramp into this same opening. I don’t know whether this is fortunate or not, but this behaviour applies to both men and women without discrimination.
2. Elevator – While waiting for an elevator to arrive, people will storm to the elevator doors for prime position, making sure that no one will get in front of them. In the mean time they never stop to think the people will have to step out of the elevator before they enter.
3. ATM – Why do people have to queue so close to me at the ATM, such that they can see what I am doing? This brings to mind another complaint, but I will talk about that in another blog.
I can keep going, but it is already obvious from the above that the key factor in these behaviours is the need for speed.
Having been back to HK for 5 years now, these daily encounters have confirmed my previous stereotypes of HK citizens of having any patience, especially with things that do not benefit from.
I think if everyone in HK could improve their behaviour, then HK could be a much friendlier place to live in.
I have been driving in Hong Kong for a year now, and I have not driven more than 10 km/hr over the posted or unposted speed limit over the year. This may sound unusual to people who know me from my days in Canada.
I have always driven a sports car in the past on the wide and straight roads of Toronto that have lots of room and many lanes. If you drive on the 401 in Toronto at speeds less than 100 km/hr you would be considered slow, because the common driving speed is 130 km/hr or more even though the posted limit is 100 km/hr.
So you would think that driving in HK, with their so-called highways of 70km/hr speed limits, and a single highway with 110km/hr limit, would be a diffifcult transition for me.
What is keeping my speed legal? First of all the price of a speeding ticket. For any speed exceeding the posted or unposted limit by 15 km/hr or less the fine is, HKD320.00 (approx. CND64.00). The fines go up rapidly from then on for every 10 km/hr above the limit. Also, driving points will be deducted for any speed exceeding 15 km/hr.
You may say the fines in Toronto are much higher, and they start deducting driving points after exceeding 10 km/hr. So what is the difference? Why are so many people still speeding in Toronto; driving at speeds of 130 km/hr to 160 km/hr on the highways.
Well, the difference are the “speed traps” and photo radars which the Hong Kong police put up along the highways and roads. Speed traps are police officers armed with laser speed radars. They set themselves up at positions where by the time you see them, it would be too late. They also have a massive number (8 – 10) of supporting officers, as compared to Toronto standards, to chase after speeders caught on their radars.
I have yet to look into the viability of using a radar detector like the ones used in Toronto, but even with a radar detector I doubt it would be too effective given the narrow and curvey roads.
Based on the above you would think that no one in Hong Kong speeds, but that’s not true. The professional drivers have their ways to counter this. Such as call stations for Taxi drivers that will report all speed trap locations upon request. For private car drivers, Pager Operators periodically send speed trap locations to their subscribers. Even regular radio stations would report so called “leng jai wai” (literally translated as “handsome location”) at the end of regular news broadcasts.
So the lesson is simple – don’t bother to speed in Hong Kong unless you have lots of money to loose.
For those of you who do not know what “Rubber Neckers” are; which I only recently found out that not everyone is familiar with this term.
DEF: “Rubber Necker” – a person who interrupts what they are doing just look at what is happening to someone else. The orher incident or event usually has nothing to do with the Rubber Necker, but due to curiosity these Rubber Neckers have to interrupt (sometimes stops) what they are doing to look at the other event.
The best examples are the individuals who slow their car down to a crawl just because there is a police car stopped on the side of the highway with another private car. If you think these people are bad, what about those who slow their cars down on the highway to look at an incident on the far side of the incoming traffic.
I have spoken to many people (friends) about the concept of “Rubber Neckers” and none of them say they are one. Although, I see them in every city that I go.