Hong Kong: the last 2 months

I knew it would happen, I wanted it to happen, but it happened much faster than I thought it would.

We are leaving Hong Kong at the end of July to return to the UK.

I love Hong Kong to bits, it’s such an amazing city full of contrasts and adventures, yet there are a few issues that mean it may not be the place where we settle.

These issues are:

  • The job market: simply put, I currently do not fit in.

I am a New Product Development Project Manager, but food companies with manufacturing operations in Hong Kong can be counted on the fingers of one hand. The few times I did see an offer, they regarded Chinese food, which I have no knowledge of…  Additionally, I do not speak, read or write Cantonese AND Mandarin fluently.

Mastering both Chinese languages is becoming increasingly mandatory and only a few sectors are exempt (banking being one of them).

 

  • Housing: renting a small apartment at high price doesn’t bother me too much. However, we want to eventually buy property, yet buying anything in Hong Kong seems unachievable. Not only is the price very high, the flats are tiny and the deposit is hefty. It simply isn’t achievable for us in the short/medium term.

 

  • Work culture: this one concerns Jeff rather than me. People at work are extremely competitive and do not hesitate to backstab colleagues and shoe-shine managers in order to get promoted. I’ve been told this behaviour is very common in certain industries/teams with local staff as it is instilled in people since kindergarten.

You see, there are only a handful of universities in Hong Kong, so parents put extreme pressure on their children to stand out from their classmates. This starts at a very young age with kids being enrolled in music, sport, arts & language classes, the only goal being to enter a prestigious primary school, then a prestigious high school and finally university. Children compete with one another on all aspects and this behaviour is carried over into their working lives.

 Hong Kong has so many good points: it’s safe, has easily reachable countryside, varied landscapes and no end of activities to try. Let’s not forget the food, central location for Asian holidays and warm weather.

 

I’ve learnt in the past seven years that no place is perfect and that it’s not about finding the place that ticks all the boxes, but the one that ticks the most important boxes…

I don’t know if England will tick the most important boxes (I’ll be honest and say I am concerned about safety)…but we thought we had to try, so when the opportunity came, we grabbed it.

 

We will try our best, but I would not be surprised if we eventually return to Hong Kong or try another country.

 

 

P.S: I do not plan on stopping the blog for now, even after I return to the UK

 

 

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Lam Tsuen Well Wishing Festival

Lam Tsuen Well Wishing festival

The Chinese New Year celebrations feature several festivals, such as the lion dance, lantern carnival and flower markets.

Additionally, villages all over Hong Kong have their own traditions and Lam Tsuen in the New Territories is particularly popular.

The well-wishing festival is famous for its wishing trees and Tin hau Temple.

People have been tying joss paper wishes to oranges and throwing them on the branches for decades and it is believed the higher the wish lands, the more likely the wish will come true.

 

Unfortunately, the two trees have collapse from the weight of the wishes and have now been replaced by plastic trees and oranges.

Festivities include a parade, food stalls, a lantern release and huge traffic jams.

 

Crowds gather and the whole festival transforms into mayhem as plastic oranges go flying left, right and centre, regularly hitting people on the head.

 

Colourful, interesting, worth-it, but best to go the week after the New Year Bank holiday to avoid the masses.

Fun activity in Hong Kong: AIA Great European Carnival

AIA Great European Carnival Hong Kong

A while back we popped by the AIA Great European Carnival with the sole purpose of taking photographs.

Frist, let me point out that by carnival, they mean funfair.

Second, I hate amusement rides (or anything that causes my tummy to move, such as the boat) so was much happier behind my camera.

It was a rainy weekday evening so there weren’t that many people around but we still had some fun!

New Year Night Hike

 

This year we decided to celebrate the New Year in a different way.

We joined a group of 10 friends, wrapped ourselves up, took our flashlights and hiked-up the Ma On Shan country trail in the middle of the night so we could see the first sunrise of the year.

We thought doing a night hike would be a fun adventure and felt that going in a big group made it safer and less scary.

Also Jeff and I had already done this hike in daytime, so we knew it wouldn’t be of extreme difficulty.

 

To our surprise, there were many groups hiking up the trail! It made the whole thing more fun because everyone was so jolly.

The hike up is mainly stony stairs and it took us a good 2 hours to get to the top, since we were all fairly slow in the dark.

Once we arrived at the top we were startled by a buffalo mooing eerily in the dark and then surprised by a sea of tents. We didn’t expect the mountain top to transform into a campsite on New Year’s night. People had brought music instruments, games, camping gas… a right party!

The sun rose at 6:30am and we got a beautiful orange/purple sun rise, slightly spoiled by the layer of smog that constantly lies over Hong Kong’s horizon. A group of paragliders decided to fly for the first dawn with the crowd of hikers cheering them on.

We were then greeted by a heard of wild buffalos rummaging through the camp, licking pans and seeming very happy to have so many visitors.

 

The hike down was so fast and easy compared to the way up, but by the time we hopped into a taxi we all felt shattered and well ready for a nap!

 

Happy New Year everyone~~!!

 

 

Happy Lunar New Year

And now begins the year of the goat/sheep/ram!

It’s our last time receiving red pockets, next year we will be giving them out!

Click here if you need a little refresher on new year customs.

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Dragon Boat Festival 2014

I’m a bit late compared to everybody on this one!

 

First of all, a wee bit of history, in my own words, as narrated by Jeffers (meaning = it may not be the most accurate piece of history known to mankind): a long-time ago, a very loyal Chinese minister committed suicide in a river when the king accused him of treason. The villagers, who respected the minister, got on their boats to retrieve his body and this is how Dragon Boat races were invented).

In Hong Kong, the Dragon Boat Festival started on 01 June, with local races taking place on 01 & 02 June and international races from 06 to 08 June.

We went to see the international races and it was a lot more interesting than I expected it to be.

The boats are long and narrow with a dragon head and tail; the teams were usually made of 10 paddlers, a drummer (to give the pace) and a steersman – obviously steering the boat.

The vibe of these races is really impressive: the beat of the drum guiding the crew, crew members shouting and swearing to encourage each other, the speed at which they go and the crowd cheering along.

You can spot crew members really easily in the crowd: muscular arms, extra tanned body, soaked in sweat and eating ice lollies.

 

We got to see quite a few nice races with some nifty crews: US national team, Taiwanese national team, HK firemen crew…

Let’s see if I can post the video I took for you guys.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/97659390″>Hong Kong Dragon Boat</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user28933921″>Saz Losu</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>