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It’s the little things — Hong Kong locals share what brings them joy in daily life

The best thing about travelling is meeting different kinds of people, especially local people. It’s a privilege to get to know them. Their thoughts. Their feelings. Their culture. Here, we meet a Hong Kong ferry sailor, a cheongsam master and shopkeepers from local businesses to talk about the work they love and to share the little things in life that bring a smile to their faces. 

Hong Kong is never short of new openings and pop up stores, but right beside these, you’ll find longstanding neighbourhood staples like Mr Cheng’s dried seafood store. “I have run this store for decades,” he tells us of his shop in Yau Ma Tei. “We have all kinds of customers…they come for all festivals and seasons ,” he says, a nod to Hong Kong's rich culture and the traditional foods tied to each celebration. The range of products can be overwhelming but take the time to ask and you’ll find that your curiosity is welcomed.  “Your questions are no problem,” Mr Cheng says, “I will gladly share how to prepare dried seafood.”

Across the harbour at a goldfish shop in Sai Wan is Mr Chan. “Most of our customers are our neighbours,” he explains, sharing that they often come in with their children who love looking at all the fish. “This tank of goldfish is very popular,” he says, drawing attention to a tank that is dancing with these auspicious fish. “Some children think we do not know when they poke and try to touch them — it always makes me smile,” he adds. Fish are popular in Hong Kong, meaning shops like Mr Chan’s are all over the city — there’s even a Goldfish Market . Keep an eye out as you walk around and, instead of walking straight past, stop in to be mesmerised by the fish and chat to the staff.

Another local who loves getting to know his customers is traditional cheongsam dressmaker, Master Kan. “I have been in the cheongsam business for decades,” he tells us, referring to the over 50 years he has under his belt. It’s clear that Master Kan takes pride not only in his work, but also in getting to know his customers. We see the joy in his eyes as he scrolls through photos of himself with happy clients in stunning dresses at his Sheung Wan store; and we believe him when he tells us “Our clients are just like our friends.” 

Someone who appreciates the stunning combination of the cityscape and the beauty of nature in Hong Kong is Star Ferry sailor Wong Kam Fai, who gets to enjoy our famous harbour every day. “The view is particularly beautiful during sunset,” he says, “when you sail from Central towards Tsim Sha Tsui.” Wong particularly enjoys seeing happy couples take photos with this incredible backdrop, watching as “Many couples compete for the best spot.”

Beauty can also be found in Hong Kong’s design scene, where it’s incorporated into everyday items, like the glasses in Hong Kong optician Ben’s Central store. “The uniqueness of Hong Kong designers lies in their flexibility,” says Ben, elaborating that “Our ideas are not limited by our own culture”, but “Each piece of our products represents a feeling, an idea, connected to Hong Kong.” 

Also in Central and nearby Sheung Wan are Cindy and Tommy, who have a heart for dessert and coffee respectively. Cindy highlights that “Eating dessert brings joy to people”, adding that “this is our intention in opening this [dessert] shop. Tommy (video top), meanwhile, takes pleasure in fuelling Hongkongers with quality coffee and tries to make each cup his best. “I hope our customers can see our efforts” he says, as he finishes a perfect love heart on his latte art.

Hearing how all of these Hongkongers take pleasure from the little things in life reminds us to do the same. During your next trip to Hong Kong, when you go to a shop or enjoy a meal — one of life’s simple pleasures — take a moment to chat with the people serving you; you might be rewarded with a little snippet from their daily lives.

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