As my first stint in Hong Kong concludes with a brief trip back home to Seattle for the holiday season, I thought it would be best to list off the best things about my time here thus far. Also, December is the ultimate month for lists. These are in no particular order:
Ben (not me)
I cannot say enough about how much my dear roommate Ben has helped me out here since day one. I contacted him via email way back in April and since then, he helped me learn how to get by in Hong Kong and offered me temporary and later long-term hospitality. Without his help, there would have been so much extra stress in my life. I am infinitely grateful.
Convenience of Hong Kong
Hong Kong is an extremely user-friendly place. The MTR transit system combined the English signs and speakers everywhere make getting anywhere and doing anything much easier than most foreign cities. Also convenient for me is the amount of Western-style staples like movie theaters, fast food and shopping malls. There might actually be too many malls to be honest, but overall, finding anything to buy is probably easier here than most American cities.
Working at My School
Though I complain about my tiredness on a daily basis, my first real job has been a solid one. I enjoy what I do and I get paid well and on time. My hope was that this job as a teacher would end up teaching me a lot about myself and it has! I have a feeling this might be the first of many years of teaching...
Of course, my time off from work is when I have had my most memorable experiences. Since I've come to Asia, I've been to Taiwan, Macao, six different islands within Hong Kong and dozens of other special places located all around the territory. And the best part is, there's still so much left to explore.
Considering the cosmopolitan nature of this place, it makes sense that I've made a wide variety of friends since coming to Hong Kong. The city seems to have a gravitational pull on nice, easy-going Westerners, especially in the teaching sector. I've also done well in meeting native Hong Kongers, most of whom are very friendly and forgiving of my occasional cultural ignorance. I hope all of you Hong Kong people reading this have a happy holidays!
This is a separate category from my job, because the students provide a spark in my life in a different sort of way. When describing them, cute is an understatement. Every single day, these kids wash away my cynicism. Maybe they'll be corrupted when they are older, but for now, they are little beacons of pure joy and energy. It's truly inspiring to witness.
One of my main hobbies since the start, learning the language of the Hong Kong people has been a major challenge but also a rewarding pursuit. At this point, I'm light-years away from being conversational, but I can speak and understand a decent amount, which is more than most Westerners. I've posted about this before, but it is always fun to see the surprised look on people's faces when I say something as simple as "I want butter please" in Cantonese.
Beauty of Hong Kong
It truly does wonders for the soul to have jungles, beaches and mountains all in one little chunk of land. Especially coming from the Evergreen State. Hong Kong is known for its skyline and bustling street markets, but like I posted earlier this month, it's the quieter places that really get me excited.
Chan Uk Village Flat
I've been living in the same place since my first night in Hong Kong and it's been quite good to me. Surrounded by a jungle, I basically feel like I live on top of the mountain, looking down on other neighborhoods and across to other mountains. With our own rooftop on the third floor, Ben and I are able to witness a spectacular sunset just about any night of the week and see the stars better than just about anywhere in Hong Kong. Yes, it's a good distance from HK Island but the cheap rent and peacefulness make it worth it.
I've been dating my girlfriend, a local Hong Kong woman, for almost two months now. I'm not one to gush about my romantic feelings, especially not on a blog, but let it suffice to say that she makes me very happy. The girl is a real gem and experiencing the city alongside her makes it all that much better. As the Beatles once said, "All you need is love!"