Amsterdam view from Amsterdam Tower

Amsterdam view from Amsterdam Tower
The view from Amsterdam Tower

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Between Hong Kong and Ho Chi Minh City

Time really flies... I left Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) last year, it means one year anniversary in Hong Kong. 

There is no need to explain about the differences of the two cities. One is developed and the other one is developing.

Without commenting on the heavy issues, let’s explore the fun things of what these two places have in common and what the differences are... Please note, things written here are based on my personal observation, they are coming from the point of view of a girl who got lost in Saigon last year, and she who is still searching for her identity in Hong Kong.

Ten Similarities

1.  Both cities – Hong Kong and Ho Chi Minh City - start with “Ho"
2.  Language! Both have language that is intervened by tone; up, down, flat, etc. The Cantonese which is used in Hong Kong has six tones, and Vietnamese has also six tones with different accent (north and south).

Tram in Wan Chai
3.  Noise pollution. The noises in Hong Kong mainly come from the crowd in the street and the cars. The main root cause in Ho Chi Minh City - please refer to points number 1-2 in “10 Major Differences” below.
4.  Noodle is something in common in both places, yellow noodle in Hong Kong and Pho (thin glass noodle) in Ho Chi Minh City.

Halal Saigon in Saigon (left), Halal Dim Sum in Wan Chai Mosque (right)
5.  In terms of halal food, from my point of view, it is probably 90% (or more) of food in both places are non-halal.
6.  The weather… It is something for sure, in Hong Kong and Ho Chi Minh City, everyone is sweaty in summer!

7.  Central in Hong Kong reminds me of District 1 in Ho Chi Minh City.  It isn't a matter of the size. Central is bigger and more luxurious.  However, it is more about the concept as the "main business district".  Both areas can be explored by walking!  It’s fun to walk around Central or District 1 to see office buildings, shops, restaurant/cafĂ©, attractions, etc.

8.  Coffee? The Pacific Coffee in Hong Kong has similar ‘red and white corporate logo’ to Highland Coffee in Ho Chi Minh City. Though, one is round and the other one is oval.
Banoffi at Simply Life (left), Jaspas HK (right)

9.  As Banoffi Cake fans, I appoint myself as Banoffi reviewer… The “Banoffi Banana Pie” in Hong Kong, available at Portobello and Simply Life, is similar to “Banoffi Banana Cake”, available at Jaspas in Ho Chi Minh City. Jaspas also exists in Hong Kong with the same yummy Banoffi Cake-:)

10.  Most residents at both cities assume that I am a local...

Ten Differences

1.  There is almost no motorbike in Hong Kong streets. A contrast view in Ho Chi Minh City; too many motorbikes!

2.  Most vehicle in Hong Kong street is hardly honking. As a contrary, there is too many honking on to Ho Chi Minh City streets. 

After working hour traffic in Hai Ba Trung street, Ho Chi Minh City

3.  Crossing the streets in Hong Kong is pretty much safe. Passerby has the right to cross the street and cars are obliged to wait when it is red. In Ho Chi Minh City, even though the traffic light is red for the cars, they seem hardly stop. It’s so challenging to cross the street. 

Busy Central, people walks & crosses the street

4.  When a taxi driver in Hong Kong says “I know”, they take you to where you want to go … When taxi driver in Ho Chi Minh City says “I know, I know”, it is better to watch where he drives - if you don’t want to go around the city… 

5.  Everyone knows how to queue in Hong Kong. People are queuing for taxi, MTR, lift/escalator, restaurants, toilet, etc…. In Ho Chi Minh City, what queue?

Mongkok, HK - it's near the Ladies Market

6.  Big Shopping Malls is everywhere in Hong Kong. There is shopping spot in every inch. Meanwhile in Ho Chi Minh City, big malls can be counted with fingers. 

Ben Thanh Market, Ho Chi Minh City

7.  In the public places i.e. market/shop/taxi, it is more challenging to find decent English speakers in Ho Chi Minh City. Meanwhile in Hong Kong, the biggest challenge is to understand the English accent of the locals.

8.  Some restaurant offers water for guests in restaurant in Hong Kong (by request only). Most restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City provide complimentary ice green tea refillable (by default). 

9.  The food price in the street in Hong Kong is double or even two and a half times more expensive compared to Ho Chi Minh City. However, it comes with the portion. Let’s take an example of a bowl of noodle. Pho in Vietnam costs around 40,000 VND in Pho 24 restaurant. It is around 15 HK$, but the chicken meat is too little…

Pho - Vietnamese thin glass noodle

10.  It is much easier to get Indonesian food in Hong Kong! There are a few shop/restaurant/warung sells Indonesian food/ingredients in Causeway Bay. Unless I went to an Indonesian friend’s house in Ho Chi Minh City, it was hard to get yummy Indonesian food . When I still lived there, the only Indonesian restaurant open was out of business within a year. I heard a new one has just been opened…

Indonesian food in Causeway Bay

Anyway, after living in a couple of different places in the last two years, home is where your heart is…

Personally, the biggest difference between Ho Chi Minh City and Hong Kong is the bike!

Life continues...