Oringinally published at The Libertines Pub.
A gweilometer is a device that gweilo use to make themselves more comfortable in non-gweilo territory. Among other things, gweilometers can rate locations on a a 1-100 scale, allowing gweilo to find gweilo-friendly zones when they’re too overwhelmed by neon, foreign characters, and MSG to navigate by sight. Not all gweilometers are alike: North American gweilometers come with different inputs and feature packages than do European or Australian gweilometers. Furthermore, gweilometers can be individually calibrated, and my gweilometer is set to my specifications. Other gweilometers may not give identical readings.
This is the first time I’ve used my gweilometer, so I’m gonna start with something familiar. Let’s hop on the Island Line in Sheung Wan, and head east.
Sheung Wan: According to my gweilometer, Sheung Wan is a pretty desirable place to live. Like many places on the north side of HK Island, my gweilometer gives higher readings as I walk uphill from the water. Within walking distance are good restaurants, a few nice neighborhood-type bars, some parks and small green spaces. The cheap Cantonese restaurants are greasy, tasty and gweilo-friendly (English menu, not too many weird animal parts). But much of the appeal of Sheung Wan is that it’s close to Central and the Mid-levels, with slightly lower rent. So let’s move away from the dried seafood smell, and head to Central. Average gweilometer reading: 88.425
Central: My gweilometer points me in too many directions at once, but the strongest signal comes from the escalator. Once I get on the escalator, my gweilometer kicks it up a notch (you know how gweilo feel about walking). The Mid-levels in general give some of the highest readings I’ve seen so far. Good European and Indian food, and established bars that aren’t trying too hard. It’s no surprise that my gweilometer is getting giddy; this has got to be one of the most gweilo-friendly places in all of East Asia. At this point, their are only two inputs my North American gweilometer has that really aren’t getting enough action: hip hop, and Mexican food. As I move up the escalator, my gweilometer emits a warning buzz around SoHo (I’ve calibrated it to warn me when prices rise above my day-to-day range). So I dive back down to the MTR, headed for Admiralty. Average gweilometer reading: 95.733
Admiralty: Arriving at Admiralty, my gweilometer takes a big plunge from it’s reading in Central. There’s shopping, and offices, and more shopping. Just as an experiment, I set my gweilometer to “banker” and the reading shoots way up. When I restore my original settings, it falls again. Not really a bad place in any particular way, but in the shopping mall that is HK, Admiralty does very little to get my gweilometer going. I’m tempted by the variety of Chinese restaurants, but my warning buzz goes off again. Average gweilometer reading: 71.251
Back on the Island Line, as I head toward Wan Chai my gweilometer needle starts to point north again, but that will have to wait for next time.