Updated: Aug 3
When a super typhoon hits Hong Kong there is excitement.... and aircon parts in the air.
Every two years or so Hong Kong encounters a super typhoon which is usually categorized as T10. When a super typhoon approaches several things will happen:
People pray that it'll hit Hong Kong on a weekday ideally at 7 am.
Glass surfaces like windows and storefronts are crisscrossed with masking tape.
Ready meals in Marks and Spencer will be sold out a day before the typhoon arrives
I'll be tempted to head out with my toddler and try to arrange a pic in which it looks like he's being blown away to Oz as they're short on munchkins. Get that? Short on munchkins *snort and high-5*.
Get my husband Kai on board as I need him to hold the camera.
My mother-in-law will send a text on Whatsapp that there is a big one heading our way and that we should at no circumstance set a foot outside while the cyclone of doom is still hovering over Hong Kong... and should we still decide to foolishly tempt death to please leave her grandson at home with the helper.
Kai will have the urge to stock up on ice cream and/or cake and it's my prerogative to choose the flavour.
2018's first super typhoon was christened Mangkhut and had been on the radar of the Hong Kong Observatory for days. It was on a quite inconsiderate path to hit the Philippines first on Saturday and was only to reach Hong Kong on Sunday. There goes your weekend. My parents already texted me that they would wait out the storm in their house in Baguio as it was safer than staying in their house in the countryside. "There are more trees in the countryside which might fall," my mom explained as if I was a millennial and had to google what trees were.
Besides being actually short, my mother is a walking green thumb. She can stroll through a Filipino forest and identify every tree that can produce something edible. It's a matter of pride to her. "Do you see the papaya?" My mom asked last time we were walking through the jungle she called her garden. Everything was just so ridiculously green. "Is it a ripe papaya?" I asked hoping for an easy one. "Child, do you see any ripe papayas?" my mother asked in a tone as if I was horsing around. "No?" I said hoping that’s was the right answer. Pointing out unripe obscure fruit in dense shrubbery was my mom's version of 'Where's Wally' with Wally being dressed in camouflage, really small and locked in a trunk.
The reason why I called my parents in the first place, was because of a news clip on the BBC website. When it comes to foreseeable natural disasters Filipinos could sometimes be a bit flippant - a bit of Que-sera-sera attitude. As if to prove me right, at the end clip a BBC reporter was shown standing in a coastal village with Filipinos playing street basketball in the background. “It is somewhat alarming that there isn't a bigger presence of the local authorities here telling people to move on. It seems that people here are very relaxed with the idea that a super typhoon is coming their way,” he said with a concerned expression. I had to make sure that my parents were not trying to pull a last-minute pineapple harvest or something.
Super typhoons make Hong Kongers giddy. While a common typhoon of the T8 kind is merely inconvenient, a super typhoon conveys a sense of danger. You are far more limited when a T10 has been hoisted. MTR routes which are above ground won’t operate as the trains could be blown off the tracks, almost all shops will be closed, and high buildings like the majority of apartment buildings in Hong Kong might sway like drunk people on the last bus home. But as long as you follow the rules, you are most likely safe. It’s like a rabid dog has been spotted in your area. Stay at home until the authorities have dealt with it, don’t try to pet any dogs on that day and just enjoy the entertainment electricity and the internet has to offer. Just don’t do anything stupid while the typhoon is in town and you’ll get to post a passably diverting Facebook update the next day.
Unlike the Philippines, Hong Kong will still have electricity, running water, internet and therefore Netflix the day after a T10. Nevertheless, Manungkhut turned out to be the strongest typhoon Hong Kong experienced on record. Some unlucky people got motion sickness from their swaying building and quite a few windows were shattered in office- as well as in residential buildings. The rabid dog managed to break into your home, tear through your underwear and garden, then just leave.