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Leaving Hong Kong

Writing this from the plane somewhere above Germany on the last stretch of the flight home, for posting as soon as I get the chance.

Hong Kong was a real punch. Felt so thrilled at first it was everything like a chemical high. The outrageous hugeness and variety of the buildings, the non-stop activity that meant you were always on the move, the exotic location (don’t you just love saying “the South China Sea” ?), the newness of everything in every direction you care to look, I was initially too high to feel any hint of oppression, although it never crossed my mind that I’d like to put down any roots in Hong Kong.

After a couple of days I discovered the parks, the green areas (just love those strangling trees), the cosmopolitan vibe, the good public transport and organization, and what seemed an appreciably disciplined character and civic mindedness of the city and its people – and I naturally thought: would I like to live here ? A thought that came nagging and tugging at every new Porsche driven past by a Westerner (even saw a gold-plated Lamborghini if you can believe that !).

But the answer had to be no. And this doesn’t even have to do primarily with the fact that the place is far too crowded for my liking. It occurred to me that, whatever you may ascribe it to (peninsula/island location, being boxed-in by steep hills, bad traffic, tall buildings, etc., non-stop, frenetic commerce and focus thereupon), this city doesn’t favour calm introspection, idle contemplation, or simply taking a breather and a step back. The question “what does it all mean ?” doesn’t come naturally. Indeed, reaching the state of mind required to ask that question, may be half way answering it.

The world thrives on diversity and clearly needs places like Hong Kong – but I shall be content to visit and enjoy it with the security of being able to return home to calmer climes.


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