It just isn’t possible to put into words what it’s like to live in Hong Kong. From exotic cuisine and nightlife, to the beauty of ancient sites, Hong Kong thrives! In this bustling city of skyscrapers, I am humbled by the size and structure of it all. Within a relatively small community of expats, the contrasts continue to overwhelm my senses. Sublime intertwined with shabby; there’s just so much to experience!
The Mystique of Hong Kong:
Meat hangs from hooks along the streets and fish is prepared by vendors as pedestrians pass by. Before living in Hong Kong, I did not realize the beaches were so close to the city, roughly a half-hour away from the downtown area. I also did not know that the southern edge of HK is entirely unique from the business district. Nature and hiking trails are within a very short range; it’s possible to hike, kayak, and sightsee without having to venture far from the city. Tourist attractions and war memorials, like the Heritage Museum and the Sai Wan War Cemetery at Wan Chai, are worth taking time away from the daily routine. And, it is impossible to live in HK without learning the art of shopping!
Shopping in HK:
Hong Kong is a shopper’s delight! Wherever one goes there are novelty shops, extensive malls, markets, and department stores. HK is known for some of the most interesting shopping in the world, particularly for those who are budget conscious. The latest fashions, European designs, children’s clothing, and street brands are readily available. I personally like to use a special credit card for Asia miles when I’m shopping and later I can use those miles acquired to purchase flight tickets around Asia so I can explore even more!
More Shopping Destinations:
As a shopping fanatic, one of my favorite places to shop is Tsim Sha Tsui. Just one of many shopping destinations, I enjoy the many specialty shops found along Nathan Road. The stores feature every type of clothing. Diverging from Nathan Road I like to stop at the stores that sell casual clothing, surplus items, and modestly priced goods. Additionally, the Chinese emporiums, galleries, mega-stores, and modern malls, are abundant. Boutiques and high-end items are available on Canton Road, with many of my favorite European brand-names. I also love looking at the street-vendor wares to the north.
Causeway Bay and Stanley Market:
Causeway Bay, situated on HK Island, is another one of my coveted shopping locals. Vibrant and colorful, CB has something for everyone who loves shopping. Both the Times Square Complex and a large Japanese outlet are other great resources. The Jardine’s Crescent outdoor market is well known for inexpensive items like children’s clothing, teen styles, and adult fashions. Stanley Market is another shopping destination. The water-side promenade and elaborately colorful silk and fabrics provide one of the best places to find the latest casual clothes and street styles. On the southern end of Hong Kong Island, I like to visit the connected Island of Ap Lei Chau. Upscale fashions by famous designers are available at the Horizon Plaza discount-outlets.
The Gateway to Asia:
For every disadvantage, there are countless advantages. HK boasts one of the most efficient airports around. It’s quite easy to use the points earned while shopping with my American Express card and visit the surrounding regions. Travel is not only convenient, it’s relatively inexpensive. One of my preferred weekend getaways is to Macau. This city also has something for almost everyone. Truly a very short trek from Hong Kong, Macau is an attractive escape for travelers who come from everywhere in the world. An intoxicating mixture of Portuguese and Chinese culture, Macau has to be one of my favorite places to visit.
The historical richness and modern architecture are something one has to experience to believe. The resort, spas, casinos, hotels, sightseeing attractions, shopping opportunities, and exotic nightlife are second to none. I especially enjoy the Chinese/Portuguese cuisines that have developed during the last 400 hundred years or so. As a gourmet, Macau is almost as amazing as Hong Kong when it comes to food delicacies. The sauces, croquettes, coconut/chicken, and flavorful meats are just a few of my favorite dishes. When I am in Macau, I never return to HK without first purchasing inexpensive Portuguese breads and the delicious custard tarts!
Rent, Space, and Food:
The cost to rent in Hong Kong, on the other hand, is rather extravagant. Real estate prices are high and many families live in apartments of a mere 35-40 square feet. While the majority of apartments are small, and the kitchens barely worth mention, dining out in Hong Kong more than makes up for the inconvenience. While some foods may be a little ‘too exotic’, the majority of the cuisine is amazing. Dim sum is one of the best examples of readily available (and delicious) foods.
Challenges in HK:
Adjusting to the weather poses one of the greatest challenges. Summers are hot, humid, and rather unforgiving! Adjusting to the language and learning Cantonese (and Mandarin) has caused some difficulty, as does navigating throughout the city; on account of the formidable number of slow-paced pedestrians. Another trial is finding specific locations within the city as many of the best restaurants are situated high above street level!
While adjusting to an expat lifestyle in Hong Kong is not without challenges, the city has a character of its own. One that is enchanting and has thoroughly captured my heart!
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