Strict Rules at the Hong Kong Swimming Pool


(Discovered in my Drafts from July 2017) – 

When I moved into a new apartment in Hong Kong in 2016, I was excited to check out the building’s piece de resistance: the indoor swimming pool on the 59th floor, with pool-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Hong Kong Harbor.

I donned my swimsuit and headed off to the pool, eager to bask in its heated waters and enjoy the panoramic view.

At the pool entrance, I proudly presented my brand new Resident Card to the attendant and received a fluffy white towel into arms outstretched. Beginning to step away, “plop”, a bright red latex swim cap dropped onto my towel.

“Here is your swim cap.” The pool guard and provider of said swim cap explained in response to my confused face.

“Oh, no thank you. I’m not going to swim laps, I just want to swim!” I pushed the stack of towels back toward him so he could retrieve his unnecessary swim cap.

The guard shook his head. “Sorry. No swim cap, no swimming.”

Not wanting to spoil the moment, I accepted the swim cap and headed to the locker room. A few minutes later, I entered into the pool area, swim cap on. In a large six-lane pool, it was just me, bobbing up and down with a bright red swim cap squeezed over the top of my head. The lifeguard gazed down intently at me from his stand the entire time.

That was the first and last time I went to the pool for a leisurely float with a view.

Part 2:

When you exit the locker room to enter the pool, you have to walk under a small sprinkling waterfall that flows over the exit door. Usually, I do this. One day, I did not.

A separate fire door which leads straight from the elevator area to the pool, skipping the locker room exit, was open. Already wearing my bathing suit, I saw no need to go the roundabout locker room way, so I walked through the fire door and straight onto the pool deck.

An older man, taking a break from his laps and resting on the side of the pool, spied my infraction and started shouting, “shower first, shower first!” I was so surprised by his outburst, I couldn’t tell what he was yelling at me.

The lifeguard tried to help the situation by also shouting, so now I had two different people waving their hands in my direction and shouting things.

It didn’t take me long to realize I had somehow broken the rules, but I took a few more steps toward the pool anyways.

“No! No! Shower first!” The man in the pool began gesturing frantically at something behind me.

I pointed slowly at the pool with a befuddled look on my face.

“No!” was the resounding response. “No! Shower!”

I pointed back over my shoulder to the locker room behind me.

“Yes!” “Yes!” Both swimming man and lifeguard nodded vigorously, pleased that I finally comprehended their request.

Astounded by the slight ridiculousness of the situation, I walked slowly to the entrance of the locker room – perhaps obnoxiously slowly, I must confess. I took one more step and leaned my head into the low-pressure, dripping “waterfall” of an entrance, then turned right back out to the pool.

Two small droplets of water rolled down my face.

“Thank you! Yes, shower first!” Both men smiled. The man went back to swimming laps and the lifeguard gave me a thumbs up.

I brushed away the drops of water and jumped into the pool.

(Note: this is an old post from July 2017 (when I lived in Hong Kong), discovered in my Drafts folder, waiting for a photo I never took of me in a gooby red swim cap. Alas.)


  1. HI Caroline,
    Thank you for including me on your Blog and am so pleased with how well you are doing. Pushing outside your comfort zone is something you have always done; I remember the story of you auditing a third year Harvard class and the junior saying that it is just not done.
    Keep your blog coming to my work address, but add my home address as well: Some of your photos don’t load on my work server.
    Also, send me your physical address as I still want to add you to my Christmas card list.
    Best regards and best to all the Davis’ in 2019.


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