The price of cultural difference (or a discussion of my eating habits in HK)

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When I miss home, I go to City Super. One time, I went home with three pieces of swordfish to cook for my "adoptive" family, which set me back for around 120HKD (20CAD). The time before, I craved for food we didn't even have at home, the U-shaped French saucisse s├Ęche (80HKD/12CAD) (and with it, a freshly baked baguette (15-20HKD/2-3CAD)). Which is fine, because the saucisse lasted for a whole month (which never happens at home), and the baguette almost as good as the one we get in Canada.

My dinner tonight was a bright idea I had that wasn't so bright after all. I bought a half-loaf of "pain paysan" (as the label says), which doesn't toast at all, and is probably as authentic as it can get. So in order to finish that, I thought, oh, let's buy some cold meats at the cold cuts counter. So there I go, and spend 10-15 minutes at the counter, as the girl employee in training slices and asks me if the pieces are thin enough. But 22.90HKD (3.70CAD) for two slices of white ham? That beats me. I know it's expensive, but that's at least twice as expensive as in Canada!

The good thing is the saucisse seche, probably a fruit of relaxed import laws, heritage of HK's past (and present?) as a duty-free port (right?), because it isn't even available in Canada, and I'd pay the 12CAD for a taste of it every now and then.

Just downstairs from City Super, still within the Times Square shopping mall in Causeway Bay, there's one of the 200 McDonald's outlet in the territory of the HK SAR.

McDonald's is cheap, with my Canadian salary, thanks to the drop in the value of the US dollar (to which the HKD is pegged to at 7.80 per USD). A combo meal costs between 20 and 25 HKD, that's 3.30 to 4.15 CAD. No GST, wooh.

Food is of course not always as cheap. Competing in the lunchbox market, traditional "siu lap" outlets in Causeway Bay will sell for 28HKD. It's a few dollars more than in other places, 'cause of the rent, but if you take prices at the Maxim's or Cafe de Coral, it's also 26-ish, 35 with the milk tea. Ajisen Ramen (un-Googleable, but it's still the most visible Japanese noodles franchise (and it's HK-based too, despite the name, just like Aji Ichiban)) has noodles in the range of 32-45HKD, not cheap, but plays in the more sophisticated, if Japanese equals sophisticated, often the case with young people here, as much as it is back home.

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Ajisen Ramen. Corn noodles, with Japanese char-siu, egg and veggies, and side-order of dumplings for approx 40HKD (6.70CAD).

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Maxim's Fast-food. Yim Kook Cai (salty baked chicken) set, which comes with the rice, a yummy MSG broth, boiled lettuce and jasmine tea. Trashy Chinese fast-food, I thought to myself, for about 35HKD.

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Threesome: a McDonald's stacked over a 7-Eleven over a Cafe de Coral Hmmm.

Tap water is safe to drink in Hong Kong, says Wikitravel, but my habits have been changed, I take fun in boiling the day's portion of water. >_> Funny, but that's how the rest of the world population lives (if they can find potentially drinkable water at all).

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2 Comments

bindy said:

Hi there-
I doubt you'll be surprized at my lack of internet finesse since you saw it exhibited all last summer, but this was the easiest way to say 'HI'. How are you? WHAT are you doing in Hong Kong? Canadian salary?
My sister is living in Japan for the next three years, so I plan to get to Tokyo at least and hopefully to other destanations asian as well. I was getting there the long way round travelling on the Trans-siberian RR over to Guangdong (familiar from the Micro exercises- did you ever finish?) and then by ferry up to Japan. Maybe I should learn the rudements of some asian language first.
Here in Minnesota where I'm still stuck, though feeling better (I got sick last semester), they are about to shut down all most state services. The state ledgislature can't agree on a budget, so on July 1 there will be no state money and most employees will have no job (including my father). This is really stupid- not because state employees should have perfect job security, but because the representatives are paid to bicker (though they've bickered themselves out of pay now).
Whoops, I've go to run to lunck.
Have fun,
Bindy

Cedric Sam said:

Heh, surprised to find you on my site. ^^; Well, welcome!

Yup, you must go to Hong Kong too, for a taste of Western-style civilization. Was my feeling all along that China, while praised by Westerners, Orientals alike, is still pretty rowdy, even Shanghai (which looks quite advanced sometimes - but you can scratch the gold-coloured paint off quite easilt). I've been to Guangdong alright. It's Far-West, the cities are bustling with energy, that's for sure.

You feel better? Asia's the place to go. I still hope to be stuck here, if chance allows. I previously applied to university (to work with the people we were reading about :D), but that fell through, and I've had semi-luck just finding decent job postings (not in newspaper read by the hundred-thousands English-speaking elite), until recently.

More I stay here, more I feel like America, and the rest of the Western World, needs to adapt to the rise of China. So raise their standards, or die.

Em, latest developments regarding the micro lab.. Silvia hired two new students b/c I couldn't be back in Canada in time. I'm now giving them instructions/tips over the Internet. Seem like good kids...

Anyways, ttyl!

-C

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This page contains a single entry by Cedric published on June 29, 2005 8:59 PM.

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