Hong Kong Queuing Culture
A city like Hong Kong will of course have many special features. Hong Kong is home to around 7,5 million people, which means there is a need for structure. One way to create structure and order is to have a great queuing system. Hong Kong is probably one of the places in the world where people take queuing up extremely seriously.
As a foreigner in Hong Kong the queuing up was one of the biggest surprises when arriving Hong Kong. I'm from a place where there is little to no need to queue up for anything, and if it is needed no one has the patience to do it. So when I saw this queueing phenomena I was amazed and scared, because my patience for queueing is extremely bad. I find that Hong Kongers queue for more than just public transport which is reasonable. However, where I am from, few people actually que up for public transport. It is more like people standing randomly around and not wanting to be close to each other. So when the bus or train comes, everyone looks at each other to find out who goes first. When in Hong Kong, this awkward situation is non existent. Everyone knows that the first one in line will go on to the bus first, which is extremely assuring and makes everyone less tense.
The other type of queuing that is commonly seen in Hong Kong is queuing up outside the restaurants. This is something else than the public transport lines. In Hong Kong there are around 15.000 restaurants, however some restaurants are more popular than others. This means that you have to line up, and often for hours. For me this was crazy wired in the beginning. I was used to leaving a restaurant if it was full and finding a new one. You would seldom ever see a line at a restaurant in my home country. However, in Hong Kong, this is the norm. I was thinking at first why, but then I realised that restaurants that serve either good food, affordable food, classic food, unique food, are a new restaurant, or everything between will have long lines. It's also important to note that Hong Kong is a foodie paradise and people find trying new restaurants like a hobby. For me however, I dont have the patience to wait when I'm hungry. I therefore admire Hong Kongers that line up for hours to try a restaurant. I think this is something we all should learn from Hong Kongers, patience. One thing that these lines can signalise is that the food is good, so it's worth it and those few times are waiting for hours, it actually is. Also when in line, you will never see people give up and leave (maybe me however) their spot.
Last but not least is the queuing up for retail stores. Back in my home country, I have never seen anyone line up outside a retail store. I have heard of it, for example when there are super special product launches. When in Hong Kong, this is something normal. There are lines outside stores selling special cartoon character themed products, snack stores, luxury goods and all other things imaginable. One store that fascinates me is Donki (Japanese discount store). Here Hong Kongers have to line up to get into the store, but inside the store, it's so full that you have to walk in line to get through the store. For me it even seems like the people inside dont mind, me however, get claustrophobic. Again, the patience of Hong Kongers is so strong and admirable.
Other lines to follow are elevator lines. These are quite common to see in Hong Kong because of the tall buildings and many offices and restaurants in the different levels. However, a decision to go to the wrong line can cost you a lot of time, I have experienced. There could be many lines to follow, and hard to know which one goes to which elevator. Therefore, I have visited many floors that I didn't need to and spent extra time waiting. Lines can also mean there is something worth waiting for or something special to see. If a restaurant has a long line, you know it's good, if a shop has a long line, their products are special or you could get an amazing deal.
I think queuing has become a part of Hong Kong culture because it is so good to keep order. But also it is something that gives comfort to the people. Something said world wide is that, if there is no one in the restaurant, it's a bad sign. So a que outside a restaurant will give comfort for people, that their choice in restaurant is good. It can also create a community where people are standing together waiting to do something good, for example voting or giving blood. Another thing to think about is that time equals money, so spending time standing in line also means you value the thing you are waiting for or want to show support, for example going to a yellow restaurant.
All in all, I really appreciate the queuing culture in Hong Kong. It makes everything go smooth. Everyone also knows where to go and where to stand. I think the city works better with this interesting culture and its something other countries should learn from. This is another thing that makes Hong Kong, Hong Kong.