Wednesday, September 26, 2012


It was a subtle awareness that started about half a year ago. An interesting thing has come to my attention.

That is whenever I head out to shop or eat in HK, should I choose to go bare face wearing just T with shorts, there is a 50-50% chance that the staff will speak to me in Mandarin and the other half would be in Cantonese.

However, if I decide to just put on eyeliner with or without mascara, NO ONE will ever speak to me in Mandarin. They would either speak to me in Cantonese or English. It was quite funny that once while I was window shopping, the retail staff standing behind me without seeing me enter the shop started her sales speech in Mandarin but the minute I turned around, she said sorry and immediately swap to speaking English. Hahaha! I was really chuckling inside.

Today was even weirder, the staff at the Japanese tempura place for some reason decided to converse in Japanese while taking my order. Secretly I was happy...hahaha...did i even remotely managed to pass off as Japanese? hahaha! Are my Japanese-brand clothes and hairdo by Japanese stylist paying off? hahaha!

I was asking with my husband, do I look that ching-chong cheena without makeup?!! Why would they even think I look like Mainlander?! I didnt think that I look all that different! Husband being husband was of no help when I ask him for his views. Man! hahaha!

I didnt know which was worse, being mistaken as a Mainlander, or as a Filippino helper when I first arrived in HK 7 years ago (figured I was still too tan then and wearing tanktop, shorts with flip flop the bo-chap Singaporean style). I have had since completely let go of my Singapore wardrobe from then onwards and revamped it with everything non-SG bought clothes.

Anyway, so for a long time now, I havent gone out without minimally my eyeliner apart from grocery shopping! The last thing I want is to be mistaken as a ..... regardless if we share the same ethnic race. I rather be mistaken as an Indian, Vietnamese or whatever. Just not "...." please. No thank you.


Elizabeth said...

I laughed when I read your post as I thought I was the only one who faced that issue, being Chinese Singaporean myself. For me it is not so much the makeup or lack thereof but how I do my hair. When I had long hair, I would tie it up in a bun during summer days and on the days I did so I would inevitably get mistaken for a mainlander. On the days I leave it down or when my hair is short, most salespeople would think I'm local. It's interesting how people get stereotyped.

Nomad said...

Hahaha! Glad that someone else had encountered similar position as me!

I think you are right there, the staff do look at the hair to "judge" if the customer is mainlander or not! Now that I think of it, when i go barefaced, I normally would bun up my hair too! hahaha!!! Although the mainlanders are gradually doing alot to their hair and that may soon be difficult to differentiate soon!

Just the other day, I saw someone that didnt look or dress like mainlander but she was. And another guy who was all decked in branded clothes and to be fair, he didnt look bad and could pass off as relatively decent, but while waiting at the traffic lights, he decided to lift up his Shirt and started to scratch his bare back and port belly in public like what a rural peasant would do and as he started to chat with his partner that confirms his mainlander nationality....Sigh...they can dress to the nines but their behavior simply give them away...

Elizabeth said...

We must have been at the same traffic light! Either that or it is just socially acceptable to some people to scratch their pot bellies in public. Incidentally I see a lot of balls scratching in HK (literally not metaphorically speaking). The suspects are almost always caucasian, young and skinny. Go figure! :)

Nomad said...

Hahaa!! Ball scratching?!! Really! Damn you live in a more happening estate than me! hahaha! Frankly, would take the view of ball scratching over chinese belly anytime...lolo!

All i see are belly scratching and someone digging their nose mine and flicking the "black gold" away! I couldnt believe how they actually can afford to look like they are in heaven and enjoying the dig in public! It was unbelievable to see the things that people do!

Anonymous said...

You are such a rude bitch. You say Mainlander are Ching Chong Cheena ? Lol don't you know in usa regardless where do you come from if you looks chinese/east asian you would be called Ching Chong too. Some Singaporean Chinese think that they are better than Mainlander, but the fact is Mainland Girl/Guy are much better looking than your average Singaporean Chinese. This is what I hate from Singaporean/Hongkonger/Taiwanese. I am a Overseas Chinese but I don't think lowly of Mainlander, because in the end, all of us all 华人(it's Huaren, if you can't read Hanzi).
Maybe in a few years when PRC surpass usa as the biggest economy all of you would proudly say that you're Chinese, bla bla bla etc, yeah what a hypocrite.

Nomad said...

Anon@ Jun 19

This is my reply to you.