26 March, 2010

Bus musings

07-Mar-2010, #6
I recently read a letter from a reader — probably in HK Mag — in which the reader complained about the general attitude received when trying to access either empty seats or seats occupied by luggage next to the window on public buses. Having taken a group of blind people on an outing, he complained that he had to loudly request that passengers on the bus make room for the blind rather than shift a few degrees to one angle, forcing the seatless passenger to squeeze past to access the window seat (which, being blind, would not be so easy). I immediately sympathised with this issue but also knew that I was sometimes guilty of it myself.

With heightened awareness in the following few days, I boarded a busy #6 one Sunday evening. Finding very few seats free, I headed to one of the '2 facing forward, 2 facing backward' sections on the lower deck because it had two free seats. Of course, both passengers had left placed their bags on the seats next to them and I foolishly presumed that one of them would move their luggage, given how full the bus was, and it would not be considered an outrageous request.

As the bus pulled off I stood and waited as the two aforementioned passengers had a staring competition of "whoever looks away first must move their luggage so this annoying person can sit here". I asked once and again, "please could you move your bags so I can sit down?" Not to mention that I was carrying luggage of my own, this was going on far too long and neither had moved an inch! Finally, feeling fed up and somewhat inspired by the letter in the paper, I reached forward as if to move some of the bags, making it clear I was not interested in this game and had indeed paid as much as they had for my seat on the bus. I was pretty sure that their luggage didn't have it's own Octopus card in order to pay for a seat!

Finally, action! The moment I came close to touching one of the passenger's possessions, she lurched forward to grab it away from me, stood up, tutted loudly while looking wildly around the bus for witnesses to my insane behaviour. I couldn't be bothered to talk Chinese to her, but stated "I paid for my seat too, I doubt that your bags did." And as she grabbed her things so she could move far, far away from me — presumably because I am obviously crazy and/or dangerous — she gave me a firm slap on the head.

For more information on Chinese people who love to fight, visit the entry that tries to capture all that anger on tape.

05-Nov-2008, #973
There's this stench on the bus. I've smelled it before and I know it comes from this really overweight guy, because when he shuffles past to get off the bus it wafts by me and doesn't go, it doesn't go for ages so I have to breath into my cardigan. Women around me root through their bags for Tempo hankies to breath into. It smells like rotting flesh, and I can't get away from it.

Today, when he gets off the bus I am sitting in a seat near the door. I look over and realise... it is rotting flesh. He shuffles because his foot is injured, not because he is so overweight, and there is a hospital bandage around his foot but I can see skin and puss through it.

I feel sick. But what can you do?

21-Oct-2008, #970x

I am on the bus and this Chinese guy just pulled out a bag with like 10 of those yummy siropenwaffle things... from Amsterdam, that me and Liz love to eat, that me and Gair munched on during our last sojourn there. There's caramel syrup oozing out of them. They look so good.

Those things are so hard to find here, and I really want to ask for one but a Chinese person would only find that rude, and more importantly, unhygienic (a westerner would think I was a scabby chav).

It just crossed my mind that I could try to make some, but ironically, I think some things are meant to be mass-produced.

17-Oct-2008, #970
There's a woman sitting opposite me with a bag depicting a family of birds. It says 'Nestle Nutrition' on it. It makes me laugh because... none of the Nestle foods are that nutritious, and they certainly did a bad job at promoting nutrition when they gave all that milk powder to starving mothers to give to their starving babies in Africa.

I took a photo of it with my rubbish camera-phone, while pretending to text.

Nestle nutrition

11-Oct-08, #5B
Man shouting on bus. MAN SHOUTING ON BUS!
This never happens, especially not in HK. I am on the bus and a man gets on, starts shouting, goes upstairs and continues to shout for about ten minutes.

People in HK don't know what to do about things like this. You could take your clothes off on the MTR and no-one would say anything. They would just look past you as if you weren't there.

People from upstairs start piling down, because they don't want to listen to the man shouting anymore. Meanwhile, the driver says and does nothing. In the UK, the bus driver would stop the bus, go upstairs and tell the man to leave. He would threaten to call the police. He would be a grumpy hard-ass.

I'm on the phone to my friend Katie in the US and she can hear the cacophony. She thinks it's hilarious that she can hear this man shouting all the way from Hong Kong.

After the famous Bus Uncle incident, people just don't want to deal with things like this.

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