An uplifting tale about a Hong Kong taxi driver’s act of goodwill has sparked a wave of similar stories shared by travelers to the city, providing a positive counterpoint amidst recent reports of frictions between locals and mainland tourists. These tensions have emerged as mainland tourists return after three years of border closures due to the Covid pandemic, leading to complaints from locals about perceived rudeness, escalating prices, and increased traffic jams.
On the flip side, some mainlanders reported feeling discriminated against due to their Mandarin language usage. Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong’s flagship airline, made headlines in May when it dismissed three cabin crew members accused of discriminating against a mainland passenger for not speaking in English.
Amidst this backdrop, a mainland woman’s post on the social media platform Xiaohongshu struck a chord with many. The woman had visited Hong Kong for a concert by K-pop star Jung Yong-hwa on July 1. The next day, while taking a taxi with her husband to West Kowloon Station to catch a high-speed train back to mainland China, she realised she only had HK$17 (US$2.2) left.
After confirming with the driver that he only accepted cash payments, she apologized and suggested either being dropped off immediately or being taken to an ATM for money withdrawal. To her surprise, the driver, rather than showing annoyance, reassured her by saying, “It’s OK. It’s not too far, and I wouldn’t have earned anything if you hadn’t boarded. So I’ll just earn a little less.”
Touched by his kindness, the woman and her husband gifted the driver two pineapple buns they had purchased earlier that morning. Upon reaching the station, the fare totalled HK$49, significantly more than she had. Although she was prepared to ask for the driver’s bank account number to wire him the balance, she was fortunate to find an ATM at West Kowloon Station where she withdrew cash and paid the fare.
Her post concluded on a positive note: “The Hong Kong people I met this time were all very friendly. I had no issues speaking Mandarin throughout the journey. I will come again.”
Her story resonated with many social media users who then shared their own pleasant travel experiences in Hong Kong. These ranged from kind taxi drivers accepting whatever change was available, to bus drivers waiving fares when passengers only had large notes or the wrong cards. Another recounted a local guiding them to a tourist attraction late in the evening. These narratives illustrate the compassionate and hospitable side of Hong Kong, fostering a more positive image amidst the ongoing tensions.