Hong Kong: land of my late twenties and early thirties and my welcome mat in to Asia.
Three years were spent working and living in Hong Kong from 2008 until 2011 and the living was amazing. The work? Not so much.
I remember getting my first Airport Express from the airport on to Hong Kong island and being immediately enthralled with the tall and thin, old and new apartment and business buildings along Kowloon. I never grew tired of just…looking.
To walk the streets of Hong Kong is to experience true city living. Cramped, busy, smelly, rushed, compressed, bombarded, and delighted. I often walked for the sake of walking and I often marvelled that I was actually living there. It was surreal that the green fields of my rural past were replaced by urban grey blocks and Cantonese neon splashes.
I have been back a number of times for work and I try to get a semblance of the feeling I got back then by just wandering the streets and just being in the moment. I was a Kong Kong Island resident so my walks were around the Causeway Bay, Tin Hau, and Wan Chai areas. Areas rich in everyday living meshed around Ferrari dealerships and Swarovski jewellery stores.
On my recent visit back, I walked down my old street, Jardine’s Bazaar, to see how much has changed and to see if I could see any of the old faces behind the counters at Circle-K or 7-11 peddling their ridiculously cheap (and very welcome) TsingTao beers. I even pondered going up to see if our old security guards were still working their endless shifts. I didn’t, I don’t think I could have handled it if they didn’t remember me.
I always try to dissect why I always feel so melancholic about travelling back to Hong Kong. It dawned on me that it was mostly memories of a younger me where I could easily play football every Sunday at 11am in low thirties-baking sun conditions. Where I was still chasing academia at Hong Kong University and when my hair was blacker than it’s aging tincture it has now.
Hong Kong was the frame for a very fruitful part of my life and it will always remain so. Going back will always be bittersweet but exciting all the same.
Note: I documented the airports and a bit of the in-flight experience in this here Youtube video, which kept me sane throughout and is something I will do with my trips from now on: