Want to entertain the kids in the back of the car? It turns out that one of the most common elements of road names in Hong Kong is a word pronounced “fook” (most often spelt “Fuk”), which has plenty of innocuous meanings in Chinese, depending on which Chinese character is used.

But on the Google Maps sat-nav app, the posh-voiced Ms Google does not pronounce it “fook”. She pronounces it as a VERY NAUGHTY English word that is STRICTLY BANNED in my family.

google bad words

Unfortunately, there are more than 60 roads in Hong Kong with Fuk as one of the elements, including Chap Fuk Road (in Tseung Kwan O), Chik Fuk Street (in Tai Wai), Fuk Man Road (Sai Kung), Fuk On Lane (Sheung Wan), King Fuk Street (Wong Tai Sing), Man Fuk Road (Homantin), Tim Fuk Road (Tin Shui Wai), To Fuk Road (Kowloon Tong), and Un Fuk Lane (Sai Ying Pun), etc., etc.

I first realized that Ms Google was pronouncing it wrong when she told me to turn left into Fuk Hing Lane in Causeway Bay. The way she said it caused deep shock (okay, riotous laughter) from the kids in the back.

I soon learned that a drive around Hong Kong with the Google Maps sat-nav app on brings a continuous explosion of curse-words! It’s embarrassing. Also, I can probably get arrested for Endangering The Morality Of Innocent Teenagers Who Know Many More Rude Words Than I Do.

Depending on how many kids in the car, and how old they are, I think I’d rather switch off the sat-nav and just get lost.

fcPjFnx.png (180×10)

A FRIEND OF MINE was prattling on about her home city (London) being very creative with rooftop gardens, etc.

ROOFTOP GARDENS? That’s supposed to be creative?

How naff. Hong Kong is WAY more creative than that. I told her that we have loads of extraordinary things on tops of buildings here, including FULL-SIZED MAJOR ROADS.

road roof

She found that hard to believe so I took a photo of the Kornhill estate in Tai Koo Shing from Sir Cecil’s Ride. Major road – on a rooftop. I rest my case.

fcPjFnx.png (180×10)

HAS ANYONE ELSE seen this taxi around town, with the number plate saying “OK LA”?

Nice example of Asian English being taken seriously.

IMG_4497 (1)
fcPjFnx.png (180×10)

BILL MILEWSKI TELLS me that he bought a bag of ice in a shop in Washington recently and noticed they were labeled “organic”.

He asked the staff member: “Are they also gluten-free?”

“I’m not sure,” she said. “If you don’t mind waiting, I can ask the manager.”

Bill said: “Don’t worry about it. I’ll take my chances.”

fcPjFnx.png (180×10)

FOR SALE AT Marketplace supermarkets around Hong Kong is a new product. “Quick 1-Minute Oats”.

quick oats

Why are they called “Quick”? I can only assume that Marketplace also sells “Slow” one-minute oats as well. But I couldn’t find them.

fcPjFnx.png (180×10)

THE WHOLE IDEA of getting personalised number plates is that you can say something nice about yourself, right?

corinne vigniel

Not for everyone—as this car, photographed by reader Corinne Vigniel, shows.

Nury Vittachi failed to win the Man Booker Prize this year. He also failed to win the Pulitzer Prize. He hopes to make it a clean sweep by failing to win the Nobel Prize for literature. He does not live on The Peak with 20 cats and a parakeet called Trixy. He is not strange.