One of the coolest things about living in Hong Kong is the vendors who supply essential items right on the street.
Need shoelaces or a watch battery? Chances are you'll stumble across someone on the sidewalk selling these and other useful goodies.
Take a recent trip to the Mong Kok Computer Centre for example. On the way a sudden downpour erupted and caught my wife and I without an umbrella. In Canada we'd have to visit a department store to procure such a device, but in the Big Lychee all we had to do was run across the road.
There, a few steps away from the intersection of Argyle Street and Yim Po Fong Street, a fellow who has been selling sugar cane juice (for as long as I can remember) at the entrance to a tiny alley also had a box full of umbrellas. Juice has nothing to do with rain gear, but he was an entrepreneur and knew bad weather was coming, and so he was prepared.
Now that's the Hong Kong spirit.
For the paltry fee of HK$50 (about US$6.40) I bought a large spring-loaded umbrella that covered us both; even 7-11 doesn't sell umbrellas that cheap. A few minutes later we found another vendor selling small umbrellas ranging in price from $40 to $99, so we knew we scored a great deal. And even if the thing only lasts a year, we'll have more than gotten our money's worth from it.
Little conveniences like this are what makes Hong Kong tick. It's a can-do attitude sorely missing in many places (such as the Beijing Airport, but don't get me started or we'll be here all day) and is one major reason the Big Lychee grew so fast. Give people a chance to make a buck and they'll take the ball and run.
And so, by being astute the little guy earns a living, and we reach our destination without getting drenched.
In more ways than one.