Monday, August 08, 2005

When In Rome, Don't Try To Speak Like A Roman

Over the weekend, my wife and I were inHong Kong.
And so we armed ourselves with the common cantonese words and went shopping!

It's amazing, Hong Kong natives...
No matter how good you are, or how hard you try to blend in, they will still know that you are not local.
Despite the fact that we have the same colour skin and of course, we hid the tourist map well before we started to converse, we were still identified as tourists.

And they continued to speak to us in Mandarin instead.

So there we were stranded, at the Peak, a famous place in HK for tourists.
We went up to the Peak in a tram up a slope so steep that the adjacent buildings almost looked slanted when viewing from the tram.
We queued for about 40mins to get into the upriding tram.

The queue for the downriding tram looked like it'd take us another 40mins before we can enter the tram, so we took the taxi instead.

And so, we make the same mistake again, trying to speak the native language.
The moment the second cantonese word came out from my mouth......"Chung Hwan"

The driver asked again," You want to go Chung Hwan?" in Mandarin.
It took only the second word for the driver to see that we aren't locals.
Either that or I do not have the HongKong look.

Taxi drivers in HongKong, always thought to be uncouth and inarticulate.

Wrong! The driver whom drove me from the Peak down to Central station was able to strike up a conversation about the economy of Hong Kong and able to give me examples of standard of living between the East Asia cities!

And the best thing was, all along the first half of the ride, he spoke in very fluent and perfect Mandarin! An unaccented Mandarin that could put us to shame!.

And there were some moments which my wife and I were talking in English.
It wasn't before long that the driver was also speaking to us in English.

So me and my wife thought, the only way we could speak to each other without the locals understanding were through our dialect, Hokkien.

It wasn't until we reached Shenzhen, a border town in China just besides Hong Kong, that we realised that they speak the same language also.

How interesting...

Today is 8th August 2005.
Time is 10.45pm.

Being able to speak the same lingua doesn't always mean you can get a better price off your purchase.

Sometimes, walking away does more that what can be asked with words.

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