Students from Hong Kong about Lviv

Students from Hong Kong about Lviv

What are the strange habits of Ukrainians? What should you see in Ukraine? What you should know about Eastern-european eating habits? What surprizes foreigners in Ukraine? Students from Hong Kong tell about their adventures. They hiked through the Carpathians, were in the Chornobyl Zone and even went to Christian summer festival.

Three students from Hong Kong, a sociologist Tom (Chi Hin Yeung), a psychologist Jack (Jack Wong) and biotechnologist Chris (Chris Ng) stayed for month and a half in Ukraine due to volunteering programm of the youth organization YMCA Lviv .

10 facts about Ukraine, which you learned here:

  1. To give tips everytime after having a meal. As there is no service charge in restaurants, it is kind of manner to give a little amount of tips to servers.
  1. The government is full of corruption. From our talks with friends in Ukraine, there is really a corrupted government in Ukraine – you can always use money to solve problems with the government.
  1. Religious division between the West and the East Ukraine. It is the first time for us to know about the complex division of Catholicism and the different ‘sphere of influence’ of different confessions in Ukraine.
  1. Proximity to Russia based on geographical factors and the past. It is after the journey to Ukraine that we understand more on the relationship between Ukraine and Russia. Eastern Ukraine would be more pro-Russian due to the geographical proximity. However, older people are more pro-Russian due to their good memories in the USSR era.
  1. Regardless of which stop you alight, or how long you ride, you have to pay the same price for tram, train and bus. For us it is really convenient and inexpensive to take the public transport in Ukraine. As the government basically owns all the public transport, the fare is unified and fair. It is just a great comparison to Hong Kong case.
  1. People always finish their food on plates. It is very similar to the Chinese culture – don’t waste food!
  1. Spicy beer is not spicy, it is sweet. The so-called spicy beer should be just a promotion technique to attract people to grab some beer to drink. Sweet beer is really the tastiest beer we have tried!
  1. You can exchange currency all around in the city. Money exchange shops are everywhere – just make sure you don’t go to a shop with a low exchange rate!
  1. Capacity of public transport is beyond our imagination. You can try taking buses during peak hours in Ukraine. You will be amazed by how many people a bus can carry!
  1. Ukraine is safe! Don’t trust the media in Hong Kong always saying Ukraine is a place full of danger. No way!

10 places in Lviv that you recommend to visit:

  1.  High Castle.
  1. Chocolate Factory.
  1. Coffee Manufacture. Other than the coffee and souvenirs you can buy at the ground floor, don’t forget to try to dig the underground coffee. It is the most unforgettable coffee in Lviv!
  1. City Centre.
  1. Arsenal’s Ribs. It’s crazy seeing how the restaurant cook the ribs and you’ll be impressed by the price of the food there – SO INEXPENSIVE ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
  1. Fatty House. You can basically try all kinds of Ukrainian food there – as much and expensive all as you wish.
  1. Citadel.
  1. Italian Countyard.
  1. Lviv Opera House. It’s a must to watch an opera when you are travelling to Europe, and especially in Lviv!
  1. YMCA Office – nice people. Just go and feel their warmth, care and love by yourselves. Wordless!

10 lifehacks for Chinese tourists who are going to Ukraine:

  1. Prepare offline google translation.This is very important because not many Ukrainians can understand English very well. Especially when you just arrive in Ukraine (either in airport or train station), you may not have a network and may need to ask someone for help, like how to take tram, taxi, etc. Most of the Ukrainians are very willing to help you with google translation when they understand what you need.
  1. Buy simcards in Ukraine – 1 month unlimited data for less than 30 hkd. Unlike many Asian countries, sim cards for surfing in the internet is very inexpensive in Ukraine, for a 4.5G card with 30GB use only cost you HKD$20 (lifecell). So do not bother to buy before visiting Ukraine.
  1. Prepare small money for tips. In Ukrainian culture, giving tips in restaurant is a normal. If you do not give tips, people may think you are stingy. Anyhow, they do not charge you a service fee. If their service is not bad and the food is not expensive, why not give some tips! Remember some small banknotes for it or else you will regret!
  1. Learn some easy Ukrainian short phrases like thank you, sorry, hello.This would be very useful in many situations, like when paying for food, upsetting somebody else, you know how to response in a way that they could understand. It is impolite if you just walk away or talk to them with a language that they don’t understand.
  1. Prepare offline map. Download an app called “”, it is a common app used by Ukrainians. An offline map would be very useful when you have network, because when you are taking bus as buses or trams in Lviv there is no notice.
  1. Taking taxi or Uber can be cheap, download the app. If you are travelling to somewhere strange and you don’t know the way, just grab a taxi or Uber through an app. They are not very expensive.
  1. Do not order too much food in fatty house, otherwise you may not finish. Fatty house is a restaurant providing many Ukrainian traditional food and you will love it. However, it is very easy to order too much at once due to the self-service in the restaurant. Like a buffet, you may easily order more than enough and it is very uneconomical.
  1. Don’t easily trust people on street, especially people in a costume of cartoon character. This kind of people may friendly ask you take some group photos with them to commemorate your journey. However, after taking photos, they will ask you to pay them in exchange for their photos! Whenever you see them, just walk away or fool them by saying a bunch of silly words to them!
  1. Dont panic to search for store for exchanging money, stores of various kinds like boutique, snack shops will also exchange currency. You can’t find a store only exchanging currency, most of them will also provide other service or selling other products. You won’t be able to search for a store for exchanging money on Google because most of them are on the street in different forms!
  1. Enjoy every moment! This is a very relaxing place for you to drink some coffee, beers, hanging around. Remember don’t get hooked by your phone but seize every moment to chill out here!

10 delicious dishes or drinks:

  1. Cream Latte with Snickers or Oreo on top. Tommy: I miss it since the moment I leave Ukraine.
  2. Plow with meat (not sure about the spelling..the rice-like thing).
  3. Pizza. We know it’s not Ukrainian thing, but pizza in Ukraine is tasty.
  4. Sweet Beers. No need to explain.
  5. Milk Cocktail.
  6. Ribs. They are served with honey and mustard, moreover, We have nothing more to say!
  7. Raf coffee.
  8. Cabbage roll.
  9. Borsch.
  10. Porridge with blueberry.

And french fries. The one served with sour cream. Sour cream we miss the most!

10 Ukrainian phrases you have learned:

  • Так (tak) – Yes
  • До побачення (do pobachennya) – Bye
  • Моє ім’я … (moye im’ya …) – My name is …
  • Ні (ni) – No
  • Добре (dobre) -OK
  • Давай (davay) – come on
  • Як вас звати (Yak vas zvaty) – What’s your name
  • Що (shcho) – What
  • Кава (kava) – Coffee
  • Привіт (Pryvit) – Hi

10 things that you miss about Ukraine:

  1. The nice weather (not so cold, not so hot). Lviv is a great place for summer. You can enjoy long day with sunshine but not being too hot even in the afternoon. The breeze at night or in the morning just makes you feel cool! 
  1. The city center of Lviv. The city center of Lviv is full of historical feeling, yet an energetic one. You can see different scenes in different times visiting there.
  1. Nice and hospitable. Maybe Asian faces are unfamiliar and strange to Ukrainians, most of the Ukrainians we met are willing to treat us very very good! 
  1. A paradise for Hong Kong people! Sometimes we can’t really believe the price level in Ukraine as it is really a low one to us! In Hong Kong probably we have to pay double or triple to get the same thing! 
  1. Affordable coffee shops on every corner. A cup of coffee makes your day better. In Lviv, coffee shops or stalls are everywhere. Grab a cup of coffee anytime in the day become a routine to us and it must be missed when we are back to Hong Kong.
  1. Old-fashioned yet convenient trams. Don’t mind the old trams in Lviv. They are still ‘powerful’ and can go really fast.
  1. Relaxing lifestyle. In Lviv, you can just enjoy life. There is never a need to rush in your day and you just have to enjoy every moment here.
  1. Beautiful people. European faces are really more good-looking than those of Asians to Asian people.
  1. Yogurt! Tasty yogurt with a cheap price is really a thing that I miss everyday in Hong Kong! Remember the days when we would buy a bottle of yogurt to drink every night…This is really a very luxurious practice in Hong Kong.
  1. Traditional eating behavior. We get used to the eating habits of Ukrainians, for example adding sour cream to the soup, eating a lot of bread during every meal, this is so special to us. Apart from this, massive beer drinking was such a common habit that we are not able to do in Hong Kong!

10 common features in young people from Ukraine and Hong Kong:

  1. Many of youngsters use social media like Facebook and Instagram. In the world of Internet, we are actually kind of connected through common social media used!
  1. Clothing style is similar. In a globalized world, teenagers around the world are dressing similarly. Probably Hong Kong and Ukrainian teenagers are prone to Western culture too.
  1. Listening to English pop music. English is an international language and thus, all of us listen to English songs for sure!
  1. Watching hollywood films. It is also a matter of globalization. Hollywood films would just export to everywhere in the world and become a common topic for all.
  1. Both have strong sense of belongings to their own hometown or country (Ukraine or Hong Kong). We were really amazed by the strong sense of being a Ukrainian among the youth in Ukraine, and actually we have never imagined it! In Hong Kong, most of the teenagers would identify themselves as a Hong Konger too, and hopefully such trend would continue!
  1. Youth in both places love hanging out with friends. Friends are always important to adolescents and for sure, hanging out with friends would be a shared characteristics to both Hong Kong and Ukrainian teenagers!
  1. Playing various kinds of sports. But comparatively, teenagers in Ukraine seems to be more sporty and active than those in Hong Kong. Our lifestyles are more sedentary with less sports.
  1. Caring about the society. For both Ukrainian and Hong Kong teenagers, we also care about the future of our own society. We will feel scornful about the unreasonable thing of the government and hope to improve that.
  1. Worrying about our future job. A sad similarity is that, we also worry about what to do in the future. We hope to get a profitable job but our skills may not be as high. So we work a lot to sugarcoat our curricum vitae to increase our chance of getting a good job. 
  1. Night life. While a lot of us may treasure the most free time during the midnight to do whatever we want, the Ukrainian teenagers also love to stay up late for their own business! For example, even when it is already midnight, we can still see many teenagers hanging out with friends, drinking alcohol, chilling all night!

and photos by Jack