Hong Kong had its first no.8 typhoon signal of the year today. Almost everyone leaves work and rushes home, and some people join long queues in supermarkets. Wait an hour or two and the streets are clear, public transport is still operating (but with few passengers) the supermarkets are still open (and largely empty), and generally life is very agreeable. A few squally showers and a bit of wind maybe, but I can cope with that.
I really wonder what happens to otherwise sane people when the typhoon signal is raised. It's as if they turn into giggling schoolchildren. Oh, goody, I can leave work early. Oh, I must go and stock up on food even though there are long queues. Oh dear, what will happen if I don't get home immediately.
Two years ago I was in Causeway Bay when the no.8 signal was raised. I had a meeting arranged, and so we carried on regardless. By the time it was finished a few hours later, the whole area was deserted. I went into the (almost empty) supermarket and bought a few odds and ends and wandered across the road to catch a tunnel bus so that I could go home. No problem getting home, and no crowds of people.
Today I had to go to a meeting across the border. Over lunch I was amazed to hear people worrying about how to get home. The KCR will stop running, there won't be any buses, we'll be stranded. Of course we weren't. As I say, some strange form of madness seems to take over when the no.8 signal is raised.