I have always wondered what it would be like to live inner-city. To be able to walk out of your apartment and straight into a bar, restaurant or shop. Not having to jump into your car every time you wanted to go somewhere. I imagined it would be pretty cool – the pros would probably outweigh the cons, I thought. Hong Kong inner-city living was all this and more. It was exciting. It was convenient. I could nip out of our apartment, grab a coffee and be back within a few minutes.
View from Victoria’s Peak
If you come to Hong Kong for a holiday there is plenty to do and see. Besides shopping malls there are restaurants crammed into every building, markets selling fake designer labelled items, streets dedicated to pets, electronics, shoes and beauty products. There are parks, playgrounds and McDonald’s ice cream outlets on every corner. It’s a busy place and the transport system is terrific. You never wait more than a minute or two for the next train and you can pay for almost anything ( including McDonald’s) using your transport card. You don’t even need to speak Cantonese to get by as English is pretty commonplace.
That said, the sheer volume of people in Hong King city can be suffering. If you need to get away from the crowds there are islands a short ferry ride away. One of my favourite days was a trip to Lanna Island. It took about 20 minutes to reach Lanna Island from the mainland and to my absolute surprise it fairly uninhabited and breathtakingly beautiful. We enjoyed the uninterrupted views, the beautiful beach and feeling like we were far away from the concrete jungle and the masses of people.
The other big high for us was Disney Land. We arrived on the Disney train and spent the day trying out all of the different rides. We went on a week day and found the queues were virtually non- existent. With our 2 day pass we were able to see everything, enjoy some shows and soak up the magic of Disney. It was probably the best theme park we have been to for the kids, as it wasn’t too big and they could go on virtually every ride.
I also found Hong Kong to be a pretty easy place to meet people and strike up a conversation. During our daily visit to the awesome Kowloon Park playground, I met a couple of ex-pat mums. I think that if I were ever to live in Hong Kong it would be pretty easy to make new friends and find a social group. I found ex-pats in Hong Kong to be easygoing and very welcoming to newcomers.
Despite all of this, overwhelmingly, Hong Kong was also an assault on my sense of personal space. It took me a while to realise that the convenience of living inner-city did not outweigh the absolute privilege of open space. Walking without bumping into someone . Crossing a street without ducking and weaving between people. Walking alongside someone without being separated by the crowd. After 3 weeks in Hong Kong I craved some distance, some space, some quiet. I missed a bit of solitude. The 560 square meters of land our house sits on at home in Australia seems like a kingdom from here, in our tiny, expensive yet very convenient apartment in Hong Kong.
Next stop, Japan.
winning at Ocean Park
The cable car ride to Lantau Island
An early Halloween at Disney Land