If there’s one expression that really gets to me and makes me gnash my teeth in rage it’s “work hard play hard“. People in Hong Kong fucking love this saying like it’s the Declaration of Independence or the sum total of humanities wisdom. I’ve seen eyes light up and faces beam when people say these four words…and it’s usually rare to see that kind of animation unless they are talking about food, money or Disneyland.
“Work hard play hard” is a pathetic excuse that blankets a justification over everything that people don’t want to really think about. It’s a catch-phrase that paints over a lot of cracks. ‘We can take our six allotted holiday days a year from our shit job where we’re under the microscope of pitilessly cold and heartless supervisors…we can work overtime without warning for no extra pay, undergo appraisals by power drunk morons one rung higher on the ladder than us, ride on dizzyingly overcrowded public transport seven days a week…and feel ok because…we can play hard after our work is done!!‘
So, what do they do when they have a chance to ‘play’? Fuck all that’s good. Their favourite activities, I’ve come to learn, are eating and buying shit. Pretty much the same as the rest of the world I suppose…but hey…this site is for complaining about Hong stinky Kong. I suppose they can’t help it – every slogan, ad campaign, TV show and even the education system itself indoctrinates Hong Kong people to value their environment as one where you can shop for and eat anything. That’s what Hong Kong is – one big gaudy shopping mall riddled with bistros.
Take a look at this 2 minute homage to the shop and the animal you’re about to have killed then eat (WARNING: Some sickening scenes involving westerners and local Hong Kong people embracing one another):
Best word to describe that video?
It completely misrepresents what’s really a ‘good time’ in Hong Kong for a local. It’s certainly not bumping playfully into a blonde western woman at the race track or grinning like a moron as some western guy grabs a beaten looking lobster from a tank and holds it up like a living trophy.
A ‘good time’ for a local goes a bit more like this…
…get on a crowded train or bus with your family of three kids, two of them babies in giant prams, to go jostle shoulder to shoulder with a million other idiots so you can save 10 cents on a roll on toilet paper and 1% off on 60 boxes of tissues. After that, you’ll line up at a restaurant that has half-dead fish on display in tanks at the front window, eventually sit down to eat fistfuls of MSG and fat…spilling half of it over the table and floor, then somehow synchronize your watches with every single other person in the shopping mall to make sure that you’re all on the same bus, going home at the same time, with armfuls of the same shit you bought in the same shops. Sounds great.
Food & money.
As Hong Kong as MSG and neon.
They know how to play hard in Hong Kong!
When you live in a utopia like Hong Kong you can rest easy knowing that your hard work is rewarded with a playground of shops and restaurants as far as the eye can see…which, in Hong Kong because of the air pollution, is not all that far…but many Hong Kong people never really bother looking too far beyond their own narrow self interests anyway.
So, it all works out.