I wanted to call this “5 things I love about Hong Kong and why I’ll be staying here for a yet undetermined amount of time despite the heat and crowds” but that doesn’t fit nearly as nicely into the title box. There’s also loads of things I like about this city, but here’s 5 things, in no particular order.
- Being involved. To date, I’ve, rather pathetically, played three different kinds of rugby – tag, 15s, and 7s- I’m on a dragon boating team (think something like rowing but the boat traditional) and I semi-regularly play pick-up volleyball. Besides everything to keep me active, I’ve gone to a church study group, a night of learning to embroider hosted at a winery, and there are endless socials popping up from my sports. There is truly things to do for every niche, there are plenty of water sports (surfing, paddle boarding) and mountains of language exchanges that meet frequently. I keep intending to check out a language exchange to practice Spanish and just can’t find the time. HK 7s, a massive rugby event, is a great time and there are so many festivals throughout the year, for food or a number of other reasons, to check out. This does not begin to scratch the surface of the endless get togethers planned by HK Girls Gone International or found on the Meet Up app, both things I highly suggest when moving to a new city. Of course, this doesn’t even begin to cover other sports or book clubs or workout classes or happy hours. The opportunities are endless and if someone’s bored in HK, that’s honestly on them.
- The people of HK. This place has all kinds, or maybe attracts all kinds, I’m not sure which. The other day, I had to pass by a right weirdo a couple of times who thought he should start screaming part of the Gettysburg address anytime I came within ear shot. On the same street, there was a little old woman singing karaoke in a language I suspected was Korean for tips. Five seconds later, a guy in a #flawless crop top showing off his moobs and beer belly made me chuckle. On the same night, there was a girl dance squad taking and retaking the same footage, likely their next music video. Besides the ones that give me a laugh, there are the ones that make me smile and feel welcome even though we don’t speak the same language. Today, I was buying some gatorade before volleyball and the shop owner noticed I was bleeding and immediately offered me some bandaids. This might be because she likely recognized me from always buying blue gatorades on Sundays, but if not, really it’s even kinder of her. When I first arrived, I didn’t really understand the restaurant culture. Raising my hand for the waitress to come to me just felt weird and sometimes there’s checklists at the table and I wasn’t always sure how to order when they gave me those. So many times a random stranger would call the waitress over for me and make sure my order was taken correctly when I was clearly uncomfortable. Some of my temporary lunch mates even noticed that my food was taking a long time and asked where it was when they watched the struggle of my point-and-order method. In general, I find locals very kind when they aren’t in a hurry or fighting their way through a crowd. I have also made some really good friends here. I’ve met some of my best mates (I’m so British now and I hate it) through rugby, work, and random nights out. I’ve heard so many stories about meeting the best people/longest friendships of one’s life in college, but I that didn’t really happen for me. I think I’ve found my life-long friends here.
- Location and geography. I really mean a lot by this. First off, Hong Kong’s geography. Situated at the south of China, it shares a tiny piece of mainland (known as New Territories) a main island (HK Island) and many smaller, outlying islands. HK airport and Disney land are both located on one of the other islands. Because of HK’s geography, beaching, hiking (which I take absolutely 0 part in except that one time), and city life are all close together. I live near Times Square in the middle of the island, but I only need 20 minutes on a bus to get to a beach I like or a short ferry ride to one of the islands if I really want away from the crowds. I also loved not having winter this year. I don’t know if I can ever live somewhere the air hurts my face again. I did not the miss the snow one bit, not even on Christmas. I might change my tune this summer when I have to sweat it out, but I really barely needing a coat. It’s also a great base to visit the rest of Asia from. Macau is a very short Ferry away, Shenzen is an hour on high speed train, Malaysia was a four hour flight, and Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, and others are much closer. I really expect to see a lot while I’m here, even though prices aren’t quite as cheap as $40 intraEurope tickets, I still can’t complain about them.
- Food. We all know this is a priority for me, I recently started a food Instagram if you’d like to follow that. Spoiler alert: it all looks really delicious and you will be hungry. Not only do I love local food, there’s not shortage of anything else I could want either. I find myself eating Vietnamese regularly, but after volleyball today, several of us went to a Japanese place. Korean, American, Mexican, Thai. For someone who grew up in a town with a population of 340, I am seriously enjoying having options. I think I take advantage of the different choices enough to make up for 20 some years of not much of a choice other than Mexican or burgers or American Chinese, which I could really go for right now. In the first floor of my flat, I can eat a local takeaway meal for about $20 HKD, $2-$3 USD. It’s a bit more realistic to pay $50-$100+ a meal, or $6-$12, and of course, there’s always more expensive options as well. Something I really love is getting meal plans from my gym because I don’t have to think about cooking and I try to be healthy. Ordering the meal plan means my food gets delivered straight to work daily and I just need to heat it in the microwave a bit. It’s the most convenient option for sure, but gets a bit pricy so I’m taking a break from that at the moment. Living near the wet market, local market, has it’s advantages too. I step outside and am immediately surround by fresh veg and fruits which look better and better the warmer it gets outside.
- Safety. I have never felt unsafe, at least not any time I can remember while writing this. Walking solo at night, through sometimes creepy metro stations, sometimes completely oblivious to anything that’s going around me, leaving my purse wide open with my phone loosely in my hand, in any of these scenarios, I’ve never had an issue. Maybe part of the reason for this is there’s always someone around even at the occasionally 4 or 5 a.m. I’ve made my home. Either others having a late night or the small shop owners setting up or cleaning up food scraps. Maybe it’s that there are always lights on and I don’t wonder through the dark, dirty alleys. Maybe it’s just the culture here and some basic human respect for each other. Save for a few parts of HK, I don’t really hear of even pickpocketing or the normal petty on-tourist crime. Actually, I’ve heard so many stories of lost phones etc. being returned to owners, except when they’re left in taxis. Especially living alone, I value the peace of mind the comes from feeling safe at all times of day.
It’s that time of year that people I tend to get questions about what my next move is, so for all of these reasons, my rough timeline is I’ll stay 5 or so years~ subject to change due at any time due to wanting to live in South America and about 100 places in between in the future. For now, I like it here and I’m happy to keep enjoying what this international, busy city has to offer.