You probably noticed that I write about Hong Kong more often than about Poland. It’s not that I’m not
proud of my motherland, or that I don’t like Poland. I was never ashamed of the fact that I’m Polish. I was brought up in a lovely city, around lovely people. But I never felt any special connection. Even being away never really made me homesick.
I missed my family and friends, I missed some of the places but never to the point I would feel sad. It all changed when I first went to Hong Kong.
Before my first trip there I was like ‘OK, that place looks pretty cool, let’s see how it really is’. I was excited to see the place that molded my husband, see the places he was talking about, try the food he was craving for all the time.
I wasn’t prepared for falling in love with Hong Kong. It was supposed to be just another travel destination, place I’m going to visit now and then because of my partner’s roots. God, it sounds like I’m talking about ‘friends with benefits’ rather than a place.
I have visited many places in the world, I’ve been to multiple countries around Europe, cities in the US, I’ve been to Thailand, Singapore, Mainland China, Macau and yet, no other place made me feel the same way as Hong Kong.
My heart is beating so fast whenever we’re about to go back. I pack nearly month before and I keep track of the days left till the departure. Meeting my loved one once again. Now that’s really awkward long distance relationship.
It’s really silly, and I feel quite embarrassed to admit this, but I even cried going through the pictures and videos we took. I know we will eventually go back, but I also know it won’t be today, tomorrow or even 2 years from now.
I once heard that you can leave Hong Kong, but it will never leave you and I think that’s 100% true. Even being in Ireland I can still recall the specific hot and humid smell in the air, I know which bus to take from the airport to get to our Tuen Mun flat. I know my way through small streets (not necessarily finding my way out of them). I remember the taste of shiu mai bought downstairs for breakfast.
There are so many reasons to love this place so making a list would be just a matter of time!
- Mix of skyscrapers and beautiful countryside. You’re in the heart of Hong Kong, yet you can take a ferry and enjoy your time on a small beach or you can go trekking around Victoria Peak.
- Weather. It’s mostly hot and humid, which is the weather I love for a very simple reason: I do not gain weight, yet I do not sweat like a pig at the same time. Sing is miserable if we’re there during hot days but I love that warm feeling on my skin. And thank God there are aircons everywhere, if needed.
- Convenience. Everything is so close and opened till late. You will never appreciate this until you go to places like Ireland where everything closes around 6 PM, 10 PM max and that’s only for restaurants. Good luck doing your grocery shopping after work.
- Safety. Aside of the political instability and worries about the future, speaking only about crime-related safety I have to say I never felt so secure as walking on streets of Hong Kong. Sing is the chicken, he will always scare me with the stories about gangsters, but so far I haven’t even been pick-pocked. I walk like I own that place. If I got lost and just wander around there was a random person coming to help me.
- Octopus card. I haven’t been to any other place (correct me if I’m wrong) when you can use one card not only as a transportation ticket for bus, tram, subway and ferries, but also you can pay with it at convenience stores, fast food restaurants and… pay for your American visa (at 7/11 with your lovely Octopus card).
- Free tissues with topping up your Octopus. If you suffer from allergy like me, you would appreciate this little gesture from Circle K.
- Variety of activities available. I’m not suitable to live in Ireland, it looks like most of our colleagues spend their free time at the local pub or painting their house. In Hong Kong for 1000 HKD I can get an annual pass to Disneyland, Sing gets a free entrance to OceanPark. I can go to the beach, I can hike, I can go to a themed cute restaurant. There’s always some cool exhibition taking place. It’s really hard to be bored there.
- Water transportation. Sometimes I will take Star Ferry just for fun. Jet Foils, Tri Cats, Sampans, Junks and so many more.
- Street vendors. Food, goods, services. Great value.
- Cuteness everywhere. I know Japan leads in the cuteness race, but Hong Kong is not falling behind. Everything can be made in a cute way, even a McDonald’s meal. Someone who is a sucker for anything ‘kawaii’ can be pleased while being in Hong Kong.
- Themed cafes. I think there’s nothing more Hong Kong than a themed cafe. Always cute, funny, popular. Last year we went to Gudetama Dim Sum, this time we’re going to try Old Master Q diner. They change every now and then to keep with the trends so there’s always something new to see and try.
- Food. Do I REALLY need to say anything?
- People. Especially older people. Always so kind to me, I still remember a tiny old lady in Causeway Bay handing out fliers. I tried to speak Cantonese to her and I know I did terrible, yet she smiled to me with the most lovely, warm smile I’ve seen.
- Range of drinks. Call me stupid for mentioning it, but in Ireland the only choice I have is a soft drink, tea or coffee. I know water is the healthiest, but if I prefer to have some cold jasmine tea rather than just a can of pure sugar.
- Festival and temples. I love the rich culture of Hong Kong, influenced by British and Chinese. I love the whole atmosphere, people gathering around. I love dragon dance and dragon boats. I love moon cakes and lanterns.
I could be going on and on, really. You wouldn’t want to read that.
I know you may think I’m crazy, but I think everyone has a place outside their country of birth they can call home.
It’s a work hard, play hard environment I love. I cannot wait when I finally will go after work to pick up some barbecue meat near San Hui market and greet Sing with a good dinner, talk about a weekend trip to Lantau island. Complain how many people are on the streets and prepare for discounted deli items like a pack of fried crabs for 10 HKD. Very simple wish.
I’m curious what city means to you the same thing as Hong Kong means to me? How do you handle this? Any advice you could give to someone in our situation? Let us know in the comments!