Over the years it has happened on more occasions than I can count … I'm in the middle of some story about my latest surreal exploit on the mainland when my interlocutor gets a brilliant idea: "Why don't you move to the mainland?"
Each time I try to explain that, while the mainland is excellent for holidays short and long, I wouldn't like to live there. Most things I do online would be illegal, or impossible, for a start. There would be no South China Morning Post. And I don't know if I could put up with people smoking in lifts every day.
Having said that, every time I'm in the mainland I frequently think to myself: "Why can't we have that in Hong Kong?"
Take coconut milk, for example. Yes I know it exists in Hong Kong but it's for cooking and comes in a tin you have to open with a can opener; it's not a feature of convenience stores, like lemon tea or Coke are. In the mainland it is.
Did you know coconut milk is an excellent cure for a hangover? As is a foot massage. Why can't there be a cheap foot masseuse on every corner, especially in Pui O, where I live?
Last time my friend and fellow villager C and I were hungover, we had to drive to the airport for a foot massage. A half-hour session was exactly 10 times the price of an hour's massage in Shenzhen. And we didn't get any complimentary fruit!
And why can't we also have koi ponds with bridges made of Plexiglass (like those cable cars with the see-through floors) and with holes where children can drop fish food and watch the koi go mad?
I thought that was a particularly ingenious feature of the Guangdong town Meizhou. In fact, would it really be so difficult for underemployed Hong Kong engineers to construct a couple of lakes just like the one in Meizhou, where people can play with the most exciting mainland toy of all: water-borne plastic spheres that you climb inside.
And after wearing ourselves out trying to stand up inside said spheres, why can't we go and have some street food? No, not a couple of anaemic fish balls and some stinky tofu, but proper, tasty, varied street food like they have in the mainland. Why can't we have that?