I begin this blog in a cab enroute to HK airport, to leave for Europe. I know this is gonna make me car sick but princess is just going to have to suck it up now – my life of little luxuries is over for the next year!
9 weeks have come and gone in the blink of an eye, and I am feeling more sad about it than I ever thought I would. Spending time in HK was a dream I had when I was a 15 year old economics student (my face may suggest that this was only last year, but sadly it was awhile ago). When I was 17, I came here on holiday, and pledged that I’d one day return because I was so enchanted by the fast pace. When I was 20, a lady read my palm and said I would be working in Asia, in or near the Philippines in the future. Then life happened – and I gave up on that goal, or rather, I believed it was no longer for me.
As fate would have it, I wound up back in HK on secondment, despite it not being part of the sabbatical plan at all. I can admit that I was reluctant to come, but decided to give it a shot anyway. And I’m so glad I did.
I thought HK would frustrate me with its lack of space and difficult climate, a place where people would just go about their business with no regard or concern for one another, and where life was just about working hard and playing harder. But now I have fresh perspective.
Where there’s lack of space, you learn to adapt. And in a place so compacted, it means that facilities have to be adequate to deal with the flow of people. Not once have I missed being able to drive, because public transport is reliable, efficient and top notch.
Where people just go about their business – it means there are always people around day or night. As a solo traveller, they pay no mind to you. Where youre alone late at night, you feel safe because there will always be others around.
Where HK has its reputation of work hard play hard, it means you will never get bored. Play takes on a broader meaning here – not everyone is out to get piss drunk every night. But when you want to have a drink, there will always be places and people to go with, anytime anywhere! And when you want to do something recreational, there is so much on offer – it was a big surprise to me how much HK has going on, if you take the opportunity to talk to people and keep an eye out. Whether it’s a new pop up, an art expo, a hike, there is always something to get involved with if you put yourself out there. As for working hard, HK accommodates that well – you can rest assured everything is still opened at 9pm.
The difficult climate – ok I can’t put a positive spin on that. The humidity was shit.
But what struck me most was the people. I expected to be met with a lot of reservation and politeness, nothing more and nothing less. In essence, I was prepared to feel lonely, waiting for the time to pass. However, in my short time here, I feel like I have met people from all walks of life who I’ll be friends with for years to come. I have been welcomed with open arms – my busy colleagues have taken personal time out of their schedules to hang out with me and give me heaps of guidance and suggestions on how to make the most of my experience here. Outside of my company, I have met a smorgasbord of people – artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, marketing execs, engineers, students, sportsmen ..the list goes on. I made friends with the restaurants I regularly frequented and I’ve been invited to events that I would never dream of being invited to in Sydney. Overall, the friendships are my main motivation for returning.
There were moments where I’ve slipped up and accidentally called HK my home – it was a mystery at the time why this happened, particularly because I haven’t been here that long. But thinking about it, home is where you feel comfortable enough to be yourself. Australia will always be my place, but HK is where I feel I have really embraced my strengths, weaknesses, interests and quirks in a very short period of time. In a way, it’s surprisingly become a country I view as another place where I belong.I’ve even picked up bits of Cantonese, despite having no intention to learn!
But sadly for now, this is the end of the “HK expat” chapter of my time abroad. It has been great, it has been surprising, and I will be sure to come back. Thanks to all my new friends in HK – I’ve had so much fun and am sincerely really grateful for all you have done!
Fittingly, I’m now on the plane and the captain has just made his announcement to turn all devices to airplane mode. Speak soon, from EUROPE!