Is Hong Kong one of the world's best places to live? I

My deep-rooted interest in Hong Kong stems from old ties with its colonial past. My pioneering great, great grandfather worked here as the chairman of HSBC from 1876 to 1902 and this subconscious affair of the heart finally took off when I travelled to Hong Kong for the first time last November.

On a stopover to Vietnam and Cambodia, I stayed with old travelling buddies and was astounded by the unique East-meets-West vibe of the so-called “Fragrant Harbour”: my first introduction to the city involved a trip out to the Po Toi islands on a local junk boat to gorge on seafood, followed by cocktails at the chic and sleek Café Grey overlooking the harbour. Within 24 hours I was planning my escape to Hong Kong.

A couple of weeks later, I was at an engagement party and talking to a former flatmate about Hong Kong. It turned out that I wasn't the only one thinking about it, as I found out that Quintessentially, the luxury lifestyle group, was planning to launch there later in the year. One meeting later, and my one-way ticket was booked.

On arrival at Hong Kong airport for Hong Kong tours, the efficiency never fails to amaze visitors or inhabitants alike: 25 minutes and you’re in the centre of the city. But finding my new home wasn’t so easy! My pregnant friend and I had to battle with my three bags and many flights of stairs in the old Chinese building which is now my home. I’ll never forget her look of horror at the tiny space - about a third of the size of my old London flat, which was by no means large! The obligatory transparent bathroom doors caused much amusement, until I broke my nose during one of my first weeks by walking into them.

Flats might be small comparative to the UK and you certainly pay the price for living on Hong Kong Island, but the mentality in Hong Kong is to work hard, play hard, so the reality is that you’re hardly in your flat but to sleep. I relish my precious time in the very contemporary and creative space - I love the fact it’s totally different to my old cluttered London style of living. Plus, the Sai Ying Pun area in Hong Kong is very up and coming. One particular acquaintance describes it as the Shoreditch of Hong Kong - I think this is an exaggeration but an amusing one that I certainly repeat when friends back in the UK ask about life here.

My new office is in the more happening spot of Sheung Wan, which is a short walk away - fine at this time of year but astoundingly draining in the middle of summer when there is 90 per cent humidity. Sometimes I’m tempted to ride the escalator that takes you up the hillside of Hong Kong Island (houses many Hong Kong tourist attractions) - and which runs alongside the stairs I climb as part of my commute - just for some relief from the elements.

The weather is ever changeable but usually beautifully warm, so I love that weekends involve a plethora of outdoor activities: from hiking on the sub-tropical trails, beach or boat action or perhaps a short flight to explore all that Asia-Pacific has to offer.

Weekend breaks so far have included the Philippines, Beijing (one of best destination for last minute China travel deals), Shanghai, Sanya, Singapore, Macau and Thailand as well as longer holidays to India and Europe (usually for weddings). And there's a trip to Japan in the pipeline too. There is also much to discover in and around Hong Kong and transport is so easy that last minute plans are the norm.

Getting involved with the expat community was a comfortable leap of faith as there are plenty of people to scoop you up and firm friends are quickly made in Hong Kong - they end up being part of your Asian family. Expats know what it’s like to arrive in this vibrant city, which makes for an immediate natural understanding.

What is unique about Hong Kong is the international influence: it’s a young city full of fascinating people. Due to its speedy development and entrepreneurial spirit, it attracts an eclectic mix of individuals and that’s what makes it exciting - here, anything and everything seems possible.

  1. 2013/08/28(水) 16:39:33|
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