Feedback on my post last week regarding manners in Hong Kong and their potential impact on the former British Crown Colony's tourism industry has taken on new meaning as a Singaporean reader takes on manners in Hong Kong and then compares them to manners in other cities in Greater China. And then he compares Southeast Asia with Northeast Asia. His insights are fascinating!
J. read the post on Australian tourist Steve Stefanopoulos, who wrote a letter to the South China Morning Post calling Hong Kongers rude people and wants put his two cents worth in. He is from Singapore and prefers to remain anonymous. He has traveled widely in the region. He has lived in Shanghai and Beijing for six years.
Having just just returned home to Singapore, J. believes that he is fairly well versed in Chinese culture and other cultures in the region. He writes:
“I am expressing my opinion as an Asian who has traveled and lived in various Chinese cities.
“To me, the culture in Hong Kong and other Chinese cities is rather similar: fast and its residents are not very civic minded. But I am rather used to it already.
“In quite a lot of ways, most of the Chinese cities are actually worse than Hong Kong. I think people in Taipei have the best behaviour and are the most gracious among all Chinese cities. Do you categorize Taiwan as part of Greater China? Tricky.
“However, the interesting thing is that I feel Westerners may like Chinese cities like Shanghai, Beijing, even the second and third tier cities better than Hong Kong, even though Chinese people in mainland China are actually much less gracious than the Chinese people in Hong Kong.
“And this is because the Chinese in the mainland treat Westerners better, thinking they are superior.
“This would not be the case in Hong Kong as Hong Kong is already well developed and Westerners are not new to Hong Kongers.
“My conclusion – people in Southeast Asian countries are the most hospitable.
“Taking Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, and Indochina, etc, as a big grouping, Southeast Asian countries do much better than the countries in Northeast Asia.
“However, if you compare within the Southeast Asian group, I think that Singaporeans are rude, and tourists may feel this way if they compare them to the people in other Southeast Asian countries.
“But if you compare Singapore and Hong Kong, then I must say that Singapore is a more gracious and hospitable city, and it is not because I am a Singaporean.
Keeping Things in Perspective
“Therefore, it is all about perspective.
“What is the Aussie tourist comparing Hong Kong to? His own country back home?
"Then I think he should take a look at the social problems back in his home country, as well!”
Accidental Travel Writer Responds
You've made some very interesting points, J.!
Regarding Taiwan, yes, I would include that as part of Greater China – along with mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau.
I've visited Taipei twice recently, and I would have to agree. The people there are the politest in Greater China.
Traffic regulations are followed to a T, crossing the street is not the least bit intimidating, nobody rushes to board a train until everyone has gotten off, the street hawkers are helpful, the list goes on.
In general, the people in Taiwan are friendly, courteous, and kind.
But it wasn't always so! When I was a student there in the early 1970s, I found them to be very thoughtful to friends – and extremely thoughtless toward strangers.
Traffic was chaotic, and passengers would fight their ways on and off of buses.
Taiwan is now a role model for the rest of Greater China – with one exception! POLITICS!!! (But there parliamentary brawls do make great television!)