The Guest Room

A Hong Kong blog that does a lot more than blog

Lion Rock News: HK’s Intangible Cultural Heritage

Following the release of a list of 480 items embodying Hong Kong’s intangible cultural heritage last month, criticisms have emerged over the omission of some seemingly obvious cultural phenomena: such as Easter, the June 4th vigil and even cha chaang tings. Using an internationally-recognised academically vigorous approach – asking around the office and certain bars in Wan Chai – Lion Rock News has assembled several more items that need to be on that list. As the list is due for regular revision, it is hoped that they will make it on sooner, rather than later. See if you agree.

1. The ‘tut’

In many countries, a loud ‘tut’ of disapproval is reserved for exclusive use by women of a certain age, as it tends to encourage violent confrontation by being extremely rude. In Hong Kong, however, the ‘tut’ is an “integral part of the language and essential communicator of social tensions,” according to anthropologist Max Klutz. Child screaming? Expect a tut. Dropped something on the MTR? A tut’s coming your way, baby. Pushed into the elevator along with everyone else on a hot day? You’ll be tutted to death, my friend. In fact, anywhere, anytime you do anything, get ready to be tutted at. It’s as Hong Kong as Happy Valley, and it’s here to stay.

2. Cramming

From apartments to entire school subjects; from taxis to shopping trolleys – Hong Kong’s space is limited, so every inch must be put to use. When you arrive on your fully-booked plane, removing your crushed hand luggage from an overhead compartment ten seats away only to file slowly through immigration, you realise Hong Kong is, more than anywhere else, an experience of space management. Heck, even the tourism office’s at it, cramming over 50 million visitors into a city of seven million. This is at the heart of Hong Kong culture.

3. Food photography

In keeping with the cramming theme, one sensory experience isn’t enough for most Hong Kongers. They want their food to look good as well as taste fantastic (they aren’t so bothered about the smell). And because they’ve paid for it and their entire catalogue of ‘friends’ isn’t there to see it, taking a photo is a must. In most Hong Kong restaurants, the photography fee is already included in the price – try asking for a reduction if you don’t want to partake. And let me know what they say.

4. Brutal realism

What’s that? Prize-giving? Your child only got third? Even though it’s been rebranded second runner-up to make everyone feel better? ‘Don’t go, lah! Waste my time, lah!’ Going to a bar with the guys from work? Will the boss be there? No? ‘Don’t go, lah! Waste my time, lah!’ Meeting new friends? Can they help you in any aspect of your life? ‘Don’t go, lah! Waste my time, lah!’ Going on holiday? Not Paris? ‘Don’t go, lah! Waste my time, lah!’ And so on.

5. A lack of life skills

Can’t drive / swim / ride a bike / fix anything yourself / cook, clean or wash? Welcome to HK, where there’s always someone to pay to do it for you!

6. Living with parents

Ooh, but home is so comfy! Mum and the maid make me breakfast. It’s not like I’m ever at home anyway. Hmm, maybe this is why…

7. Queuing for restaurants

The restaurant next door does exactly the same food. However, this one does it slightly better. Let’s wait a couple more hours.

8. Gambling

Somebody, somewhere in Hong Kong, bet that this would be included in the list. He’s gutted that he didn’t pick it as number 8.

9. Travel

Or ‘leaving the city the second you get a holiday’. Does this reflect well on our amazing international airport, or really, really badly on the city itself? You decide!

10. Total rejection of actual heritage

Unless it acts as a shopping facilitator, or attracts Mainland Chinese (usually the same thing).

Any more intangibles to add to Hong Kong’s cultural heritage? Did we miss anything? Comments below!

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This entry was posted on July 14, 2014 by in LionRockNews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , .

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