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on July 16, 2018 on 7/16/18 from

Functionality of Hong Kong

One of the first things I noticed about Hong Kong upon arrival was how easy it was to navigate the city. Despite this being my first time here, I was never caught in a situation where I did not at least have some sense of place. Being a multinational city that is home to many expats and international businesses, most directional signs in Hong Kong are in both Traditional Chinese and English. Names written in English can either be a direct translation or a romanized spelling.

Image 1. Street sign with direct translation

Because Cantonese is more widely spoken in Hong Kong than Mandarin, non-translated signs display the Cantonese pinyin spelling rather than the Mandarin pinyin spelling.

Image 2. Shopping avenue sign with Cantonese pinyin spelling

Image 3. A Ding Ding station sign containing Cantonese pinyin spelling

Public transportation is heavily utilized and highly efficient. The main modes of transportation include MTR trains, buses, trams (called Ding Dings because of the bell noise they make), ferries, and taxis. Although I did not see many, if any, bikers, I did see some bike lanes. Inside stations, there are positional signs to locate train doors (Image 4), rail maps with the direction the train is heading in (Image 3), as well as exits with signs that tell you what attractions they lead to (Image 5 & 6). Inside trains, there are interactive maps above doors to help riders keep track of the stop they are at–these maps also include lights to signal which side the door will open.

Image 4. Signage by the train platform

Image 5. Sign for an exit at a station

Image 6. MTR station map with local tourist attractions, pictures included

Beyond motorized forms of transportation, Hong Kong also offers superb pedestrian guides. Most places have unspoken rules about what direction to walk in on what side of the street/lane/etc., but not every place walks in the same direction. Hong Kong is considerate of this and offers floor signs to guide those walking or waiting to cross a road.

Image 7. Direction arrows and lane guides on the floors of the MTR station

Image 8. Floor sign at a pedestrian crossing (image source linked)

Back in the US, I live in the suburbs where a car is needed practically anywhere I want to go, even to the “closest” supermarket. Here, however, I am never more than a 5-minute walk from some form of activity. Living right across the street from an MTR station is very handy as well. I will surely miss the ease at which I can explore when my program ends and I am back home.