Thursday, August 7, 2014

Hot Mess

The above is how I would categorize my trip to Hong Kong, a city that during my seven years as an expat in Asia has routinely been spoken of with hushed whispers of awe.  Expats LOVE Hong Kong.  Oh, the shopping, they say.  It's just like back home, they say, regardless of where back home may be for them.  My friends and colleagues over the last seven years had painted me a picture of an expat utopia, a land flowing with milk and honey.

Well, I'm here to debunk that myth.  It's possible that my assessment of Hong Kong won't be fair.  For starters, I just came from "back home."  The chiefest attraction of where I came from - namely, my family - isn't here, and everything else about the states that I will miss by the time I leave Mongolia again for Christmas (such as food) I haven't been away from long enough to have orgasms over (have I eaten breakfast at McDonald's every morning and stopped at Starbucks for a frappuccino two or three times a day?  Guilty as charged, but that has more to do with laziness and cooling off than my excitement and having them again).

Then there's the money aspect.  As a direct result of the fact that I just came back from the States, I'm not exactly flush with cash (although thanks to my Dad I had plenty to sightsee on), and so that limited how much I could spend.  While there are a lot of cool shops, I already did the shopping I needed last month, so I can't afford to go crazy buying new lenses (that I don't even need) in the camera shops strewn liberally across Kowloon, and the sum total of my Hong Kong shopping has been 10 frames from IKEA and a new case for my phone (because where else would I be able to buy a case that is pretty much a clone of the one that has finally fallen apart?)

Finally, there's the weather.  I realize that when I say it is "hot as balls" here that I am exaggerating.  I've lived in the Middle East, after all.  It hasn't even reached 90F this week, and trust me, I'm grateful.  I look around and I can see that nobody else is melting, but then, I'm guessing 99% of the people here didn't arrive from Mongolia on Monday.  When I turn in for the night I immediately take a cool shower.  I have to hang up my clothes because they are soaked with my sweat.  I may never be able to live in a hot climate again.

But apart from all those things, I just think Hong Kong is not my kind of city.  In some ways, it's too Chinese, even though you can see the traces of British rule in the double decker buses and the spontaneous joy on people's faces, or, more to the point, the people protesting across the street from me here.  In other ways, it's too cosmopolitan - all the nationalities clamoring together rob the city of a strong cultural identity, although I guess that could be considered its identity, if you want to get technical.  Either way it's a crowded megalopolis and I can't walk a block without being accosted by a tout.  Hong Kong is not without it's good points (which I'll get to eventually), but for my money give me Seoul.  I'll skip the odes about why I love it so much and assume you've read my blog enough to already know.

No comments:

Post a Comment