Monday 11 August 2008

A little bit about SARS

We got our strength up for Saturday afternoon with a very fine dim sum lunch at the House of Tang restaurant at the Metropark Hotel in Kowloon, near Mong Kok. The surprise added bonus was the big screens showing the men's gymnastics from Beijing. We learnt (by being the dumbass tourists who ask stupid questions) that when you have two sets of chopsticks each, the black ones are Public, for ferrying stuff to your bowl, and the white ones are Private - the ones you eat with.

The Metropark used to be called The Metropole, but in 2003 it was the first location in Hong Kong to be connected with the outbreak of SARS. There's an extremely interesting Wiki article about the progression of the epidemic here. If you read only a few lines of this, you'll understand why there are hand sanitizers everywhere, and lift buttons often have a little notice saying how often they are disinfected. It may also be the reason that public rubbish bins (of which there are very many more than in London) have to be emptied 5 times a day. Old books and websites about Hong Kong (and China in general) often comment on the frequent spitting and, frankly, snotting that goes on. While it does still happen, it is very much reduced here, perhaps thanks to the sheer quantity of public notices exhorting everyone to "Observe coughing and sneezing etiquette".

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