HEALTH ORGANISATION believes travel to Hongkong should be avoided
at all cost. I agree. Travel to Hongkong should be free. Why pay
when flights and hotels are empty? There are other good reasons
to travel to Hongkong. You thought Singapore was clean. Wait till
you see Hongkong. People wear masks, they wash their hands five
times a day and any chicken that so much as coughs, attempts to
cross the road, or has sweaty armpits, is history. A million chickens
thought they could get away with bad breath. They were wrong.
in the Iron Mask". Welcome to Hongkong, "World City",
where for HK$4 you can be the Man in the Surgical Mask or, for HK$15,
the Man in the Monkey Mask. This will prompt you to ask: "WHAT
IN THE WORLD AM I DOING HERE?" It shows the Hongkong marketing
slogan works. Visitors are encouraged to help keep the city clean.
They can do this by donning a state-of-the-art N95 "monkey
mask". This fits snugly over the nose and mouth and its heavy-duty
moulded fibres can keep out everything, from germs and fried dofu fumes to fresh air and oxygen.
Send us your Feedback / Letter to the Editor
Share This Page
As with any state-of-the-art
gadget (like a modern bathroom that requires a pilot's licence to
manipulate the three-way shower toggle) the N95 must be handled
with care. As the packing label cautions: "Misuse may result
in sickness or death. For proper use see supervisor or call 3M at
A mask that needs a supervisor and carries a toll-free number, has my instant respect
A mask that needs
a supervisor and carries a toll-free number, has my instant respect.
If you're visiting Hongkong to help keep the city clean, DON'T MISUSE
YOUR N95 MASK. You MAY use it as a breast enhancer (please use two),
an umbrella, or a parachute. Do NOT use it to rob banks. Such "misuse"
may case death. Bank guards carry lethal weapons. These, of course,
are not your worry. The mask will asphyxiate you within a minute
on its own and you will slump gracefully beside the teller window
- in slow motion if you're a professional.
There is something
rakish yet reassuring about masks. Lunchtime in Hongkong is like
wandering into a vast operating theatre, a panoramic set from Chicago
No-Hope. What could be safer? There is an aura of mystery. Is
your date smiling? Grimacing? Sticking her tongue out? Is she a
she at all? Are you actually dancing cheek to cheek with her father,
whispering sweet nothings into an eager, hairy, sixty-something
It has been scientifically proven that people can run faster than bugs
Visitors who cannot
handle an N95 might try an AK-47 which is far more effective at
stopping people sneezing on the metro. Or they might try a cheaper
surgical mask. The most popular variety is green. This is why Hongkong
is called a green city. It is. I wear one. I change it each day.
Not because the germs are going to get me but because I have suddenly
realised the truth of something my mother and my wife have been
trying to tell me over the years. My morning breath is a biological
stew that can take out an armed battalion in three exhalations,
depending on wind direction. With a surgical mask on, my life is
in serious danger. With an N95 I would be up there with the chickens.
Don't be alarmed then at the shocked expressions on commuters' faces
in the MTR. They've simply inhaled their own air for the first time.
These are brave people at the frontline who still eat garlic for
breakfast. PEOPLE, CHANGE YOUR MASKS EVERY DAY.
There are only
two foolproof choices for protection against atypical bugs. You
can run. It has been scientifically proven that people can run faster
than bugs. Or you can don a sealed head-to-toe Spiderman costume.
Your teenage kids will suddenly start talking to you because you’ve
stopped wearing trousers belted at the chest. Immigration officers
will be equally animated and may take you to a VIP room for a chat.
The only downside is that you must then do heroic things like leap
off tall buildings and so on which has a higher fatality rate (almost
100 percent) than atypical bugs (six percent). A Darth Vader outfit
is an option that goes well with a black Armani jacket and the neon
light is excellent for evening strolls.
My question is,
how do you recognise an atypical bug? Does it wear Gucci shades
and a Hilfiger T-shirt? Or does it blend with the local populace
and wear Giordano? Doctors and fashion designers are working on
this. Meanwhile, whatever you do, don't sneeze or cough, unless
it's in public. After everyone has run away, pick your park bench,
movie theatre seat or restaurant table. Remember, the atypical bug
is less fatal than normal pneumonia, less infectious than influenza
and nowhere near as frightening as a soiled baby nappy. But bad
breath can kill.
More on HK and
SARS at Fearbusters.
Also see HK Department
of Health and the US Center
for Disease Control.
Send us your Feedback / Letter to the Editor