Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Don't Eat on the Hong Kong Subway (MTR)!

Don't eat on the Hong Kong Subway!  This may seem like kind of a pointless tip but it's not.  The rules for riding the MTR clearly state that there is no eating on the subway.  The reason  you need to know and be careful of this rule is that it has become a flash point between Hong Kongers and visitors from mainland China.

Back in April of 2012 an argument broke out on an MTR train between a family from mainland China and pretty much everyone else on the car.  One of the children from the mainland family spilled some noodles on the floor of the MTR.  One of the Hong Kongers was so upset that he pulled the emergency brake.  Since the Hong Kongers and the mainlanders spoke different dialects, no one could figure out what the shouting was about until the whole thing had been video taped and shown on the local news.

There is a rising tension between Hong Kong locals, who often don't consider themselves very Chinese, and mainland Chinese who contribute billions of yen to the local economy but are sometimes seen as uncouth.  There is also a long standing issue with Mainland women coming into Hong Kong for prenatal care.

All of this has now boiled over on the odd topic of food on the subway.  If you are caught eating on the subway, the reaction may be far stronger, and more pointless, than you can possibly imagine.  Do yourself a favor, finish the noodles as the noodle shop before you head home.  They're better fresh anyway.

MTR Maps Hong Kong
The  Hong Kong Subway Map (MTR)

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