No hawking?!

Hong Kong Travel Blog

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A sign at the top of a flight of stairs (Pingyao, China 2005)

It’s certainly interesting to walk around Hong Kong and try to figure out whether the local people seem more British or more Chinese. After all, the group of islands were already claimed by the British in 1842. Since 1997 they were ‘given back’ to China, resulting in their current status of Special Administrative Region. It must have led to, or maybe still causes, quite an identity crises, to go from being a part of Great Britain, to being a part of China.

After spending almost three days in Hong Kong and observing everyone I run into, I must say that it seems as if the people of Hong Kong haven’t made up their minds yet.

Hungry station: for when you're hungry (Hong Kong)
Traffic still moves on the left side of the road, which is an inheritance from the Brits. But pedestrians are in limbo. When walking on the sidewalks (another souvenir from European colonisation) Hong Kong citizens tend to walk on the right side, but they are not very consistent . Especially at subway stations this can lead to confusing moments and occasional collisions.   

Then there is the fact that very few people in Hong Kong speak English. True, it’s easier to talk to someone in a hotel or touristic attraction in Hong Kong than it is in China, but it’s still quite an adventure to order food in a small restaurant or ask for directions.

The modern malls of Hong Kong are stuffed with expensive western designer clothing, shoes, sunglasses and other so-called wannahaves.

Please, no spontaneous combustion in this area (Ocean Park, Hong Kong)
Names and logo’s of Gucci, Prada, Dior, Calvin Klein, Dolce & Gabbana, Chanel and Donna Karen are plastered all over the city. But then again, if you leave one of these malls or shopping area’s you can end up at a traditional temple or small and authentic dim-sum restaurant within seconds.

In most restaurants there are a fork and spoon on the table (sometimes even a knife), and you would have to ask for chopsticks, which is the opposite situation from China. There are of course several restaurants like Pizza Hut, MacDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken, but there are very few places in the world where you cannot get hot chicken wings or a Big Mac.

The Temple Street Night Market shows most of Hong Kong’s Chinese roots, with all its karaoke-stands, fortune tellers and men playing a game of Mah Jong in front of their houses. But visiting the Symphony of Lights at the Avenue of the Stars (a light show with music at Hong Kong’s skyline) gives a predominately western feeling.

No Hawking?! (Hong Kong)

There’s one thing that makes Hong Kong an identical twin of mainland China, and that are the numerous hilarious signs that can be found all over town. In northern China we already found countless great ‘Chinglish’ signs, like: ‘Be down from here’ at the top of a flight of stairs. Or ‘Be careful of landslides’ at another flight of stairs and the ‘Have no smoke area’.

In Hong Kong we found some more instant classics. First one was the ‘Hungry Station’ as a name for a small restaurant. There’s also the comical ‘Don’t alight here’ we found at Ocean Park. It seems as if it has something to do with spontaneous combustion, but it turned out it warned not to light a cigarette there. And finally there was a sign that said: ‘No hawking’.

View at the Symphony of the Stars at the skyline of Hong Kong.
It was at a parking lot from a hotel not too far from the Avenue of the Stars where they had put this message and it has been keeping me up at night ever since.

Does it mean that hawks are not allowed to fly there? Or that they are allowed to fly there, but not to land in that area? Why do they think a hawk could ever read the sign? Or does it say that they don’t want people to look at others there (as in: ‘hawk eye’, watching someone or something very closely). It remains a mystery to me.

Suggestions of alternate translations are welcome.

reikunboy says:
Hawking means to try and sell something usually from a street stall, involves yelling out getting someone attention.
Posted on: Jul 19, 2010
huibdos says:
www.engrish.com
Posted on: Feb 13, 2010
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A sign at the top of a flight of s…
A sign at the top of a flight of …
Hungry station: for when youre hu…
Hungry station: for when you're h…
Please, no spontaneous combustion …
Please, no spontaneous combustion…
No Hawking?! (Hong Kong)
No Hawking?! (Hong Kong)
View at the Symphony of the Stars…