Monday, October 02, 2006

Somewhat long but insightful post. No, really.

Golden week refers to the week-long holiday in the mainland over the Chinese National Day period. In recent years this week has taken on special meaning for Hong Kongers. Since the opening up of visa restrictions for mainlanders to visit HK (they used to be able to do this only if they join a packaged tour), HKers have developed a love-hate relationship with these individual visitors, or Freedom Walkers as they are called (no relation to Walkers crisps).

We need their cash. We need them to visit the smallest Disneyland in the world. We need them to buy SK-II products from Sa Sa. We need them to take the Peak Tram. We need them to prop up the retail sector that can no longer be sustained internally. But as any HKer can tell you, it is their cash we want, not them, not physically.

I discovered a distinctive trait shared by Freedom Walkers and HKers. We hold the same things sacred.

Let me explain.

Toilet seats in public toilets in Hong Kong are always filthy. Covered in wee. Sometimes even poo, occasionally menstrual blood (I am not making this up). This is because most women "hover" when they use the facilities. Either that, or they squat with their feet on the toilet seats. The exception being places where there are full-time cleaners to mop the place down every ten minutes.

Why won't they sit on the toilet seat? Reason - the buttocks must not be contaminated by the skin dust/bum hair/dermatological infections of previous users.

Freedom Walkers, given all the free walking they do, get tired and often want to sit. This town is not made for sitters, and if you try sitting your arse down where you are not supposed to, e.g. on the steps inside a mall, or on the floor of the KCR station, invariably you'll get told off by security staff.

Whenever freedom walkers sit, without exception they will put something down that surface before plonking their arses down. A piece of newspaper, a plastic bag, a paper fan, whatever they can get their hands on. Failing that, they squat.

Reason - the buttocks must not be contaminated by dust/fluff/germs that might be lying on the floor.

I have seen freedom walkers taking their shoes off so that they could insulate their bums from the floor. You see, it's okay for the bare feet to touch the floor but not okay for their fully clothed arse (?) to be subjected to this treatment.

Conclusion - the arse is sacred.

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