On Thursday, all of working Hong Kong spent the afternoon sending each other text messages, emails, msn messages and whatever other things there are to send, to update each other on the incoming Typhoon Nuri.
I don’t know how, but it seems like everyone else knows that this is gonna be a DIRECT hit and that we’re gonna get one of the biggest storms ever.
No. Hong Kongers aren’t that interested in storms actually.
Or rather, we are interested in them in terms of, when a really big typhoon comes….we don’t have to go to work!
The whole city shuts down: schools, offices, banks, sporting events, shops, planes, ferries, buses and most other forms of transport.
Everyone stays home and sleeps in. Woohoo!
So, we did get directly hit on Friday and the whole city celebrated by sleeping, going to dim sum, venturing out to the cinema (Yes, they stay open. Apparently, they do great business on typhoon days.) and…watching the Olympics.
This time, we got hit by a Typhoon No. 9, which, apparently, is the biggest typhoon we’ve had since 2003.
You see, summer is typhoon season here, and typhoons in Hong Kong are given various numbers between 1 and 10 to signify their severity.
No. 1 is the least severe. Then it goes to No. 3, No. 8, No. 9 and No. 10 depending on wind speed and other meteorological information I can’t be bothered to understand. (No, I have no idea what happened to all the other numbers.)
When it is Typhoon Signal No. 8 or up, we shut down.
So, being a Hong Konger, I either pray for no typhoon, or a big nasty one. Because if we get just a No. 3, we are made to slog through the wind and rain to work. Which, as you can imagine, is not fun.
Especially when the wind flips your umbrella over when you’re waiting for the bus.
Never mind that windows fly out into the streets and rain glass on the sidewalks, or that huge billboards come apart, or that bricks drop out of the sky, or that bamboo scaffolding becomes bamboo heaps and block traffic, or that trees get uprooted or sign-posts and lamp-posts turn into scrap metal and occasionally the odd crazy surfer die……we all root for the biggest typhoon we can get.
But once you are safely home and you look out the window and see that the normally busy sea is devoid of ships, and you can’t see anyone out and about downstairs, and you’re starting to have difficulty telling sky from sea…..you celebrate and eat ice-cream in your pajamas and watch the storm go by. :)