For personnel at the Hong Kong garrison, life tends to be one of relative isolation.
Soldiers are allowed to go sightseeing in the city and surrounding areas only twice during their two-year rotation - once at the start, and then when they leave.
Apart from open days, they also rarely come into contact with locals.
Medics say the situation has over the years caused some long-serving personnel to develop psychological problems, such as depression, which has led to the establishment of regular psychological checks and counseling.
After converting churches and bars left by the British military into cultural activity centers, the garrison has invested more than 40 million yuan ($6.3 million) fitting them out with LCD television sets, tablet PCs, digital cameras, e-books and musical instruments. They are also regularly used to stage singing and speech contests, as well as exhibitions of calligraphy and other art forms.
"The barracks are well equipped, so few soldiers are at risk of psychological discomfort," said Zhou Houshun, director of the political department of the garrison's infantry.
Even when they do leave the barracks, life can be hard, as they have to closely observe the special administrative region's 800 laws and 2,000 bylaws.
"This is the most important and successful experience for us," said Lieutenant General Zhang Shibo, commander of the garrison.
The garrison's firm observation of the laws is one of the reasons it enjoys a good image in Hong Kong.
Since the 1997 handover, the regional government has been revising the laws enacted under British colonial rule with the garrison's legal advice.
Zhao Dong, director of the garrison's legal affairs department, said the office has been popularizing the revised regulations. For instance, he said, the office has prepared an instruction card for every military vehicle, informing drivers what to do in the event of a traffic accident.
Without immunity rights as on the Chinese mainland, all military vehicles pay traffic fees whenever the local government requests.
Annually, about 300 officers are rotated from the Chinese mainland to the Hong Kong garrison. But only those who have received two-month closed and intensive training about Hong Kong laws and have passed related exams can enter Hong Kong.
Every year, it is estimated that more than 10,000 vehicles and 30,000 people from the garrison pass Huanggang and Lok Ma Chau ports between Shenzhen and Hong Kong, but no one has severely broken customs regulations so far.
Yu Daimin in Hong Kong contributed to this story.