For 40 years, I’ve been conditioned to look left, then right, and cross when all’s clear. I’ve also developed a habit of, when sensing no traffic from the left, instinctively stepping into the street, ready to stride across.
In Hong Kong, this habit may get me killed. In this ex-British colony, they drive as the Brits do: wheel on the right side, driving in the left-hand lane. It’s as jarring as a visit to Bulgaria, where Bulgarians quirkily nod when they mean no, and wobble their head from left to right when they mean yes.
Silly as it sounds, I’ve been here a week and still mix it up, looking the wrong way. I’ve already had several buses whizz past my nose.
Apparently, I’m not the only one finding this habit hard to break; the mainland Chinese, likewise accustomed to right-lane driving back home, also get confused in Hong Kong.
Otherwise, how else to explain what looks like a “Street-Crossing for Dummies” guide: at most intersections here, painted into the crosswalk, in both English and Chinese characters, are the words “Look Right.” If that’s not enough guidance for some pedestrians, they’ve helpfully added another clue: an arrow.