Jamie | Founder of J3 Private Tours Hong Kong | Offering Award Winning Private Tours of Hong Kong
The question is | am I a Private Tour Guide in Hong Kong? or as some people would say, a host or a docent?
Private Tour Guide in Hong Kong| Host | Docent | Tour Director
I have been doing this since 2011.
Over the years I have always had the feeling that being a Tour Guide | Private Tour Guide in Hong Kong is the sort of profession that people who cannot hold down a regular job fall into and as such the perception is that you do not have to have any "proper" qualifications to do this most challenging of professions and for many people they do it on a part time basis.
In addition it is felt by some people in Hong Kong that in order to deal with such a diverse group of clients travelling to Hong Kong who are looking for a Private Tour Guide, that the Guide has to have a Professional background, a couple of University Degree's and have the ability | experience to deal with successful, sophisticated, well heeled travellers.
Fiddlesticks I say, what utter balderdash and quite frankly an over generalisation by people who have a very poor understanding of the Human psyche! and these people will use any term out there that does not associate them with TOUR and GUIDE
So, I am not a host, I am not a docent, I am not a Tour Director I am a Private Tour Guide and very proud of it and you know what else, not everyone that does a Private Tour of Hong Kong is well off as you will note below.
I basically left school at 16 and have pretty much been my own boss since I was 17 years old.. and one of my business bibles was a wonderful book by a chap Dale Carnegie called "how to win friends and influence people" and then there is the practical matter of actually dealing with successful, sophisticated well heeled travellers!
So here is the Tour Guide World according to Jamie
- you do NOT have to have a University Degree / PhD to be a Tour Guide | Private Tour Guide, but if you have them, awesome
- you do not have to be an old fart like me to be a Tour Guide | Private Tour Guide, the profession is one big day by day learning experience, most of my friends in the business are 25 - 35 (so young then!)
- you do not have to be a chef or a food writer to do a food tour or to be a Tour Guide | Private Tour Guide in Hong Kong, if you are awesome.. Hong Kong has a great food culture but we are just talking about food, anybody that lives in Hong Kong for any length of time pretty much understands the food culture here, in my time in Hong Kong, I have eaten at over 1,200 restaurants and I know good food from bad but I have no desire to do food tours, when I eat I eat to enjoy the food not to deconstruct the item that at I am eating, or in Yorkshire speak, a dumpling is a dumpling, a pudding is a pudding.
- I believe it is vitally important that you do know your city, you know the important facts and statistics and when and where to deliver them on the tour and for me the important bit, you have to get across what it is really like to live in a dynamic city like Hong Kong and give a balanced view ie the good, the bad and the ugly
- being a great private tour guide requires a lot of hard work, research and pounding the streets, you have to be available 365 days a year (I am!) and every time you do a tour you learn a little more about how to interact with people.
See below, not bad for a geezer from Middlesbrough
.......and since 2011 I have done tours with people who have the following diverse occupations:- A Princess, One Star Admiral of the US 7th Fleet, Plumbers, Nuclear Sub Commanders, Farmers, Chip Shop Owner, Teachers, Pulitzer Prize Award Winning Journalists, Photocopier Repair Guys, Lawyers, Rocket Scientists, Movie Producers, Consul Generals, Police Officers, Homicide Detectives, Travel Agents, House Keepers, Linguists, Retired and Serving CIA Officers, Fighter Pilots, Army and Navy Guys, Socialites, Students, Judges, Journalists, Software Geeks, Nuclear Power Plant Inspectors, Surgeons, Doctors, Forensic Pathologists, Nurses, Coroners, Venture Capitalists, Hospice Directors, Town Planners, Accountants, Psychiatrists, Nuclear Physicists, Professional Athletes, Ferry Captains, Commercial Pilots, Airline Crew, Social Workers, Veterinarians, Musicians, Theme Park Executives, Professional Photographers, College Professors, Gaming Geeks, Inland Revenue Tax Officials, American Airforce B 52 Bomber Pilot, Senior Engineer / Ballistic Missiles, Bodyguards, Beer Salesmen, Park Rangers, Scuba Diving Instructors, Popcorn Machines Makers, Coastguard Officers, Firemen, Structural Geologists, Veterinarians, Architects, Surveyors, Hooters Waitress, Dentists, Ski Instructors, Civil Engineers, Air Traffic Controllers, Electricians, Top Law Professor's at major US Universities, Librarians, Steel Guys, Economists, Homemakers, Novelists, Book Publishers, Currency Traders, Carpenters, a Rabbi, Boiler Maker, Strawberry Farmers, Food Bloggers, Morticians, Financial Advisers, Corporate Video Makers, Private Investigators, Bounty Hunters, Chiropractors, Air Traffic Controllers, Builders, Stonemasons, Botanists, Dog Sitters, Spy, Geneticists, Interpol Agents, Prison Food Suppliers, Radio Announcers, Military Cryptologists, Forklift Drivers, Locksmiths, Icecream maker, Pastry Chef, Baker, Zoo Keepers, Explosives Experts, DEA Agents, Coffee Traders, Diamond Buyers, Wedding Photographers, Google Guru's, Geologists, Professor of Medieval History, Navy Chef's, Camp Site Operators, Animal Embalmers, Telecomms Engineers, Helicopter Pilots, Oil Industry Divers, Navy Seals, Landscape Gardeners, Mary Kay Super Agents, Hotel Owners, TV Actors, Optometrists, Gourmet Chef's, Acclaimed Plastic Surgeons, Barristers, Travel Bloggers, Politicians, Funeral Home Directors, Former Gang Member, Anthropologist, Children's Book Author, Geophysicist, Chicken Artist, Priest, Movie Makeup Artist, Expert Witness, Bail Bondsman, Opera Singer, Master Brewer, Child Prodigy, Debt Collector, Victoria Secrets Store Manager, Head of a major Charity, Celebrity TV Talking Heads (!), Fortune 500 CEO's, Corporate Trainer, Futures Trader, Waitress (quite a few) General Manager of a Worm Bait Company, Owner of a RV Dealership, Convenience Store Owner, Owner of an Amusement Game Manufacturer, Elephant Conservationists, Chemist, High School Students, Crematorium Operator, Vet from Honduras, Hair Stylist for a Funeral Home, Calendar Maker, Pedicab Operator, Poets, Steve Jobs Doctor, Major US Democratic Politician, Big cheese Executives from HBO and CBS, Famous journalist and a Journalism Professor, former Secret Service Agent.... and some really, really senior people from J. P. Morgan, Starbucks, Google and Microsoft.
The laid back approach to riding a motorbike in Hong Kong, quite amusing really but a base case of road rash or worse if it goes pear shaped.
Private Walking Tours of Hong Kong | The Hong Kong Country Club | Motorbikes in Hong Kong
All Private Tour Guides in Hong Kong should have a hobby, mine is photography, on my Flickr site (see link a little further down) you will notice I have over 100,000 + images on my site, pounding the streets of Hong Kong is a wonderful way to get to know the city and it's people.. and if I am free on a Sunday and the weather is fine, I am outside the Hong Kong Country Club on Hong Kong Island | absolutely fabulous for car photography and car number plate photography and one of my latest quirky things, people who distract me, you would be amazed at how many people walk in front me knowing I am taking pictures!
It has also given me an insight into another part of Hong Kong culture, the laid back approach to riding a motorbike, it seems wearing safety gear (other than a helmet) is an afterthought! it is amazing how many people here ride very powerful motorbikes wearing shorts, t-shirts and flip flops!
This image I really like, look at the young lady staring at me!
The good, the bad and the very stupid | how is this "motorbike" even legal on the streets of Hong Kong?
Hong Kong Tours | Photography Tours on the Streets of Hong Kong | Legal Vehicles
Seriously? I have to say I was rather shocked to see this "motorbike" putter past me whilst I was outside the Hong Kong Country Club.
This is the second one of these that I have seen in as many weeks, it looks like a toy bike with a 50cc engine but surely it isn't street legal ? there is a real visibility problem, I imagine cars, buses and trucks are going to have a real problem seeing you and if one of them hits you, you will probably not survive.
My photography portfolio is pretty extensive and I have taken numerous professional photographers out on a Private Photography Tour of the Streets of Hong Kong but as mentioned in a previous post I do NOT teach you how to take a photograph but I can show you where to take some really cool images.
Even cycling in Hong Kong is all about status and the perception is that you are defined by your US$10,000+ carbon fibre bike and lack of fat!
The Streets of Hong Kong | Cycling on the Streets of Hong Kong | Hong Kong Tours
Most of the my cycling images I have taken are on a Sunday as I take pictures of fancy cars | every now and then a "flock" of fit cyclists go whizzing by | a pleasant diversion away from photographing Lamborghini's, Ferrari's, McLaren's and such.
Like most things in Hong Kong status and the perceptions of wealth is at the heart of this weekend hobby.
- rich people, invariably bankers, lawyers and Corporate types etc wear fancy spandex and ride US$10,000 carbon fibre bikes and there isn't a pound of fat anywhere to be seen
- middle class people tend to go out on mountain bikes or really cheap racing bikes, there is a lot less spandex and a lot more fat
- the plebs, families and the masses go out out to the New Territories and rent really naff bikes either in yellow or blue (the company renting green bikes went out of business) basically this is just an excuse to go to a famous, legendary out of the way restaurant and stuff their faces | fat is fashionable in the New Territories on a weekend.
Personally I do not get cycling, a US$10,000 bike doesn't stack up against a US$4 Million Pagani (almost all carbon fibre) and you also annoy every car | bus | truck driver out there as you weave and wobble on the road causing 2 mile tail backs.
... and you probably guessed that me and Spandex are not a good fit (literally) and I am living proof that certain people should be forbidden from wearing it.... not really an issue with the rich folk here, they all hang out in gyms and eat protein bars. I will stick to taking photographs.
.... and no I do NOT do cycling tours in Hong Kong.
Sham Tseng | One of the very few squatter villages (shanty towns) left in Hong Kong
Sham Tseng | The Sham Tseng Goose | Private Walking Tours Hong Kong
I have lived in Sham Tseng for just about 10 years, we like it and I have been known to take people there because it really is an interesting place.
So what do we have in Sham Tseng then that is so fascinating
- two 7 - 11's and two supermarkets
- three big Chinese gates (like what you see in Chinatown's around the world)
- The Garden Bakery, lots of bread and cakes made in my town
- a Starbucks
- really, really tall apartment blocks
- a statue of a goose that cost US$153,845
- the worlds most famous Roast Goose Restaurant (which is why we have the goose statue)
- a load of not so famous restaurants which I stay well clear off
- Juddy, my friend Juddy lives in Sham Tseng, he is Darth Vader in Disneyland in Hong Kong
- one of the best views of the Airport Bridge
- and the squatter village.
This squatter village I find fascinating, I have my haircut in the squatter village, in somebody's living room and yes, it is a proper salon, they can even wash your hair.
Starting in the early 1950's Hong Kong was overrun with refugees fleeing strife in China and these shanty towns sprung up everywhere and were essentially replaced by Public Housing Estates built by the Hong Kong Government to the extent that only a few remain.
I do not live in the Squatter Village but it is a real contrast as Sham Tseng is quite middle class and I love bringing people here to see it as it shows a side to Hong Kong which hardly anyone see's and it is great for photography.
Oh my golly gosh, the simply amazing Pagani Zonda Absolute - this is a custom made car and is rumoured to be the only one of it's kind in the world and it is in Hong Kong!... oh... and yes, this is my picture, talk about being in the right place at the right time.