Monthly Archives: August 2012

CDotD – How Much Will That Ferrari Cost Me?

Hong Kong, home to some of the world’s richest and land of one of the steepest income gaps, can boast a low income tax regime and tax-free goods – but not when it comes to high-end cars!  I was lucky enough to take part in a Ferrari test-drive event and was shocked at the price tags I saw — which were ranged from HK$3+MM to HK$5+MM! 

Of course I had no idea what Ferraris cost in the first place, but it turns out that this sticker price included first time registration tax — which is a whopping 115% in Hong Kong!  And don’t think you can get away with the tax by buying your Ferrari elsewhere and then shipping it over – because that too will be heavily taxed!

If you ever want to get into the nitty gritty of this stuff, yes, there is an Ordinance for that, and it’s called the MOTOR VEHICLES (FIRST REGISTRATION TAX) ORDINANCE (Cap 330).


So…What Are You? (Part II)

Identity is not only an issue in the US, apparently, but most definitely one in Hong Kong.  For the most part, it seems Hong Kongers try to distance themselves with China, and in its ugliest form, even be quite discriminatory against Chinese.   Rarely will a Hong Konger ever dare suggest they are to be considered equals to those on the Mainland.  But once in a while, you’d be surprised.

Most recently in the Olympics, I recalled feeling a bit of surprise when one Hong Kong athlete remarked that he considered himself a part of Team China, despite there being separate teams.  It would make sense to want to bask in China’s pride, where the nation once again brought back plenty of medals to celebrate, but yet I was really shocked that he’d make that statement.  (Sorry for no link – just saw it on the news one night!).

More recently in my own experience, I got wrapped up in the following “facebook fight.”  Unfortunately few others dared get involved (or maybe didn’t care), but I post it below for your entertainment or enlightenment.  Either way, I hope to get some public discussion on this one.  (I’ve changed the names for everyone’s privacy.)

PRC Supporter  about an hour ago near Hong Kong ·
You are granted 3 stars permanent residency of Hong Kong. The government gives away $6000 and you took it. Hong Kong is part of China. You still claim that you are not Chinese?
LikeUnlike · ·Unfollow PostFollow Post
6 people like this.

        59 minutes ago · “}’>LikeUnlike 

  • PRCSupporter

     Hoho tonight’s speech objectives raise a lot of questions in me.
    55 minutes ago · “}’>LikeUnlike
  • Expat-PR

     Go on – give me something to get my teeth into!!
    54 minutes ago ·UnlikeLike · 1
  • ME
     but getting permanent residency does NOT confer permanent residency in China.
    49 minutes ago · “}’>LikeUnlike
  • Expat-PR

     And getting PR is not the same as getting 3 stars
    47 minutes ago ·UnlikeLike · 1
    PRC Supporter
  •  Hong Kong is part of China. Disagree?
     44 minutes ago · “}’>LikeUnlike
  • PRCSupporter

     PR cannot get $6000?
    43 minutes ago · “}’>LikeUnlike
  • ME

     Hong Kong is an SAR. Disagree?
    39 minutes ago · “}’>LikeUnlike
  • PRC Supporter
     ME: did you get $6000?
    36 minutes ago · “}’>LikeUnlike
  • ME
    Nope, I certainly did not!
    36 minutes ago · “}’>LikeUnlike

  • Expat-PR
     PR can get $6K but PR does not equal 3 stars
     35 minutes ago · “}’>LikeUnlike
  • Expat-PR
     I did.
    35 minutes ago · “}’>LikeUnlike
  • ME guess you would be smearing Chung’s research as well, PRC Supporter.

    A recent survey found that fewer and fewer Hong Kong residents view themselves primarily as Chinese.
    34 minutes ago · “}’>LikeUnlike ·
  • PRC Supporter Read this. It is more updated.

    Hong Kong fishing vessel Kai Fung No 2 reached Hong Kong water on Tuesday evening.
    26 minutes ago · “}’>LikeUnlike
  • ME
    PRC Supporter, this article from the CHINA DAILY about the government’s official stance has little to do with 1) HK people’s sentiment, and 2) anything with your argument that collecting 6k makes you Chinese! Ruth cannot enter China under the same conditions as a PRC passport holder. I’m 100% American, and even with its ups and downs, and the regular embarassment I may face being American, that isn’t changing anytime soon.
    24 minutes ago · “}’>LikeUnlike
  • PRC Supporter

     ME: It is not about sentiment at all. It is all facts. You are sensitive about your own identity and you are sentimental. No one here ever ask to you claim that you are 100% American. You don’t have the responsibility to join the discussion of this topic. Calm down sweetheart. :D.
    16 minutes ago · “}’>LikeUnlike
  • ME

     I am completely calm! But what you say is entirely off point and don’t address what have been both Ruth and my points. I can participate in any debate I like — because I’m in HK, not China 😀
    14 minutes ago · “}’>LikeUnlike
  • Expat-PR

     I agree with ME- talking about identity IS emotional and China is not interested in any one individual’s particular sentiments on the matter – they have their own agenda. You have to be careful if you’re going to tackle this topic tonight – so easy to offend…
    11 minutes ago ·UnlikeLike · 1
  • ME
    For the record, I pointed out my own nationality for the purposes of demonstrating (1) what Ruth pointed out — the inherent link between sentimentality and identity, and (2) to also show that I need not be among the parties (Chinese or HKese) to find this interesting / involving.

    9 minutes ago · “}’>LikeUnlike
  • PRC Supporter
    ME: you are so legal. 😀 If you are so embarassed here why not go back home and find a job there? All I can see is a friend here all of a sudden claims that she is a 100% American. I feel sorry for the embarassment you had but this has nothing to do with this topic. Do you have PR in Hong Kong?
    7 minutes ago · “}’>LikeUnlike
  • ME
    I’m not embarassed about being American. I was referring to how it’s not necessarily so fashionable to be American, and yet I am still proud to call myself American. As for a job, I am not here because I am not employable in the US. As for wanting to go back – I most definitely do want to, especially with the evolving (or devolving) political climate in HK. And no, I do NOT have PR, nor am I particularly interested in it.
    5 minutes ago · “}’>LikeUnlike
  • PRC Supporter
    ME: so you don’t fit into any part of the topic. y u spend so much time discussing this???
    4 minutes ago · “}’>LikeUnlike
  • ME
     As I said, it’s still interesting! It touches on topics that are still relevant to anyone who cares about identity, ethnicity, and nationality. I would think you’d welcome more points of views and encourage debate! But that is certainly not the Chinese way!
    2 minutes ago · “}’>LikeUnlike
  • PRC Supporter

     Expat-PR: thank you for the reminder. ME: thank you for the comments. It is time to go. 😀
    about a minute ago · “}’>LikeUnlike
  • ME

     Yes, I see you definitely identify yourself as Chinese!

So… What Are You?

If you’re “ethnic”-American like me, you’re probably familiar with the below exchange:

Where are you from?

~ New York (or fill in whatever US city, etc.)

No, where are you REALLY from?

~ New York! (honestly – I’m not falsely from NY!)

So what are you?

I really do take offense when based on my “ethnic” exterior, I’m not allowed to be from America, and worse when I’m asked “what” am I, it sort of infers that my race makes me less human (are you asking if I’m a chihuahua?).

I haven’t really had to face much of that here in Hong Kong, though I’ve had people confuse me for Singaporean (apparently it’s my accent in Cantonese, not English – phew (no offense Singaporean readers)!), Korean (something about my looks – but I got this in the US too), even Hong Kong-ese (not sure how!).  But when I tell people I’m American, no one disbelieves me!

Overall, people are more open-minded about where you may be from here in Hong Kong — even when I meet someone who is “white” or “brown” or “black” – I know not to automatically assume that person isn’t a Hong Konger.  

But I recently read this WSJ blogpost about a Malaysian Mando-pop star who got terribly criticized for showing sympathy for her country-man Lee Chong Wei for losing a heart-breaking badminton men’s final in the Olympics to China’s Lin Dai.

I actually caught the live coverage of this game on TVB Pearl here in Hong Kong, and have to admit, it was truly painful to watch Lee lose, even if you were not Malaysian, or like me, had never watched world-level badminton before!

The Mandopop star’s comment, “What an exciting match! Cry cry…but still very proud,” firstly, was hardly offensive, but for some reason her China fans got incredibly upset with her — remarking that she should “know her roots” and such.

I suppose when much of your fan base are Mainland Chinese, you probably should be a bit more sensitive to this sort of thing, but it still seems incredibly unfair to me! She is MALAYSIAN after all – why shouldn’t she want her fellow countryman to get gold, especially when he has worked so hard for it?

This piece really struck a chord in me because I have been carefully eyeing the medal count this whole time, waiting for the US to come out on top in the medal count, and feeling dismayed whenever China was on top.  Luckily, I can proudly chant USA USA!! at long last, but I’d really take offense if someone thought my “lineage” would beat out on my actual homeland, where I was born, raised, acculturated and acclimated, and truly invested in terms of its future.

One critic wrote to the pop star: “No matter where you are, you shouldn’t forget your homeland and your village.”  I can agree to a certain degree — I am still Chinese-American and definitely see myself differently because of that hyphen.  I also appreciate my ethnic background and the land where my mom came from, but don’t ask me to cheer for and fight for a country I really don’t know, especially if against the country I was actually born and raised!



Pollution is the Pits!

The air has been killing me lately here in Hong Kong.  Since our massive T10 Typhoon Vicente, the air has just not been the same.  Shortly after Vicente were another two or so typhoons in the area that apparently were keeping wind patterns at a stand-still, causing the pollution cloud over us to just sink in.

I’d previously never really felt it the way others have.  I have luckily not gotten pollution-sick, or especially weakened from the air.  I admit, I stopped running outside in part because of pollution fears (and the humidity is just too much), but I now open the windows at my flat, especially since I no longer live on a low floor on a major road through Wanchai.

But I did feel the 200+ API (Air Pollution Index) from last week — allegedly the worst Hong Kong has seen in a long time/ever!  And I keep feeling it – as the situation has not gotten better. 

But what exactly is API? And how is air pollution really monitored?  I noticed that API is always mentioned in the news forecast and is announced on the digital information boards in the MTR – but what do we do this number?

The index ranges from 0-500, and is measured quite regularly. The government apparently looks at 5 particular pollutants and uses some algorithm to come up with a number.  We are told whether it’s “low” “medium” or “high” — but what that relative term is based on is unclear to me.   Those with “respiratory problems” are advised to check this index rating carefully.  I guess if they have issues, they shoudln’t go out on certain days!

This is all neatly explained in the Environmental Protection Department’s website – but ultimately, I feel it doesn’t REALLY tell me much. What about us “regular folk”?  Exactly how dangerous is an API of 200+? What might it do to me?  That is not clearly explained anywhere I’ve looked!

I tried to find out what I could do to compare the quality of air in HK with the quality in my hometown of NY, and noticed it’s hard to really compare because each jurisdiction has some different means of calculating air quality. 

All I know is that a 2009 reading of particulate matter showed that HK had a score of 50 (for 50 micrograms per cubic meter) and NY’s was 21.  In contrast, Beijing had a score in the triple digits!

Well now I finally know what a mega high pollution index day feels like — and looks like.  I now know that foggy haze ain’t natural!

I <3 Wing On!

I was just checking out the opening hours for my favorite Hong Kong department store Wing On when I chanced upon this sweet little NYT blog entry on the very same subject!  I share it with you for its little bit of history on its founder, who came to Hong Kong to revolutionize the local shopping world with what little he earned selling produce in Australia! Amazing!

And since 1907, this little store has grown and grown and offers us fair prices for wonderful goods to this day!  That’s right — from 1907, through 2008, when the NYT blogger wrote about her time in Hong Kong, to 2012, where I repeat every sentiment! 

But wait, there’s more – do read the comments for more interesting tidbits of knowledge! And I’ll agree with one commenter that there are SOME clothes you can buy here that isn’t of a singular fashion sense — though I admit, it’s my first stop when I think of buying clothes for my grandma!

The basement indeed is the best part of Wing On — I can linger in here for HOURS.  Not only do they have fantastic items not to be found in the West, like the cutest ceramic food storage containers (think of your zip-loc plastic storage boxes, but made of beautifully decorated porcelain!), but wonderful food items from around the world – including the most extensive collection of vegetarian mock meats I’ve ever seen in one freezer!

So for all you new arrivals, or any of you who have simply not been , or, as the  NYT blogger suggests, any tourists who want a total HK view of shopping, go to Wing On!!

HK & Olympics 2012: First Medal in the Games

Hong Kong won its first medal in the games on Friday in women’s cycling, with Sarah Wai-sze Lee taking bronze.  This is the first time Hong Kong has won a medal in cycling, and is only its third medal in all Olympic history! 

Interestingly, gold went to Great Britain and silver to China — so the flags that went up also had some meaning —  as we all know Hong Kong was handed back from Great Britain to China in 1997. 

Though I am cheering on the USA in any and every sport, I have found myself getting pumped on behalf of Hong Kong, rooting them on whenever they are televised and hoping the best for my adopted country.  On Sunday, I admit I got into table tennis, rooting Hong Kong’s men’s team as they defeated Japan to go into the semi-finals! 

Go Hong Kong!

More on Enjoying the Olympics in Hong Kong

Enjoying more of the Olympics coverage from Pearl (one of the free local television channels) and utilizing a little of the dual language mode coverage.  In Hong Kong, many channels will actually provide dubbing of many English/other language programs, and you can access that with a press of a button on your remote.  I don’t know how they get so much Cantonese-dubbed programming (they have it for all kinds of stuff — National Geographic, Jamie Oliver, America’s Next Top Model, etc.).  I normally don’t use the function, since I obviously prefer watching my programming in the original English, but for the Olympics the button has been in more usage since the primary overlay has been Cantonese.

I’ve left it on Canto a few times for some time, forgetting about the button I usually don’t use, but once I switch to English broadcast, I notice that Western commentators (for the women’s team gymnastics I think they took the broadcast from the US, so the commentators were American; but for those events being covered especially for Hong Kong’s coverage – e.g., table tennis, judo, badminton, the commentators have tended to be Australian or British) speak a lot LESS than the Cantonese ones!

The Canto commentators sound familiar to me because it seems these same two guys comment on just about every sport on HK television.  They tend to run a constant dialogue, which can be quite distracting.  They spend a whole lot more time explaining the sports.  I once recall watching an MLB game on local tv with thee familiar voices, and the commentator inaccurately suggested that softball was for women and baseball for men!  So, I don’t think the HK sports commentators necessarily know all too much about hte sports they speak on (though I don’t doubt that their general sports knowledge is broader than most of us).

I have to admit I much prefer some silence with limited commenting when I watch sports.  I like learning interesting tidbits, and assistance understanding a sport I’m not familiar with, but not a constant soundtrack!  I like it when the Western commentators are seemingly whispering or talking low, as if they are right there in the room, and we all need to stay quiet to allow the athletes some concentration.  In contrast, the Cantonese ones never do that (they’re not screaming or anything, but Cantonese is not really the most “quiet” language).