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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Hiking in Lion Rock Country Park & Amah Rock

The weather has generally been chilly and cloudy for the past month, so when the sun broke out for a weekend we put our hiking shoes on and headed Lion Rock country park for a hike.

The country park is named after a rock resembling a crouching lion and I’ve always wanted to hike up to see the views of Kowloon.

Unfortunately, we were tight on time so didn’t make it to the Lion but instead went to Amah rock.

The legend says a fisherman’s wife walked up the mountain daily, her son on her back, to lookout for the return of her husband, not knowing he had drowned at sea. In reward for her faithfulness she was turned into a rock by the Goddess of the Sea.

The hike is nice with panoramic views of Sha Tin and even a tribe of wild monkeys stealing food from barbecue pits. It’s also relatively short (2.5 hours) but requires walking up a fair amount of steps!

 

 

 

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~~!!

 

 

Fun activity in Hong Kong: Bike ride from Tai Wai to Plover Cove (Tai Mei Tuk)

It was a gorgeous day yesterday, so we decided to conquer the most popular bike ride in Hong Kong.

The route starts in Tai Wai, on the banks of the Shing Mun River and goes all the way to the Plover Cove reservoir. The bike route is separated from roads and traffic all the way, so it’s safe from cars (but not safe from silly bike riders).

The route is 25/30km long and took us approx 4 hours, mainly because Jeff thought he was on a snack bar crawl and wanted to stop at every snack cart along he way.

It was really great fun! The sun was shining and the temperature was just right. For the first 3 hours the path wasn’t too crowded and we only met one or two silly riders. When we got to Plover Cove reservoir, it was quite crowded and full of families with kids. But it was the end of the ride for us and we could give the bikes back!

We took so lovely pictures along the way, enjoy!

 

 

Fun activity in Hong Kong: Hiking the Dragon’s Back

Hiking the Dragon’s Back

The Dragon’s back is one (if not the) most popular hikes in Hong Kong. It’s not easy, not horribly hard but has great views.

I’ve wanted to do it for a while now and am really happy I finally have!

The hike isn’t extremely hard, but it definitely isn’t easy. Many steps, uneven paths with roots and rocks are what make it a little bit more tiring.

It’s defo worth the effort.

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Tung Ping Chau – The flat Island

 

It had been a little while since we’d been on an adventure, plus Jeff was eager to try his new camera, so last weekend we set off for Tung Ping Chau.

 

Tung Ping Chau is the furthest point of Hong Kong… it’s actually much closer to Mainland China.

We set off quite early in the morning because getting there is a bit of a trek: there are only 2 ferries per day, one at 09:00am going out and one at 05:30pm coming back. The boat only runs on the weekends and the journey takes 1hour 40 minutes, so this gives you an idea of how remote and deserted the island is.

 

The island is famous for its rocks and glowing sea (at night) and is very popular with campers.

We just went for the day and hiked round the island to look at the scenery.

There are only a two or three small restaurants/tuck shops on the island and they are all close to the ferry pier. So we had to ensure we had everything we needed before we set off for the day (the island is only 1km2 but still).

We had sprayed ourselves generously with mosquito repellent, but as always I still got bitten.

After walking for 2 or 3 hours we had walked ¾ of the islands perimeter but took a short cut back to the pier and got some refreshments and a well deserved break. The waitress told us that only 2 people live on the island during the week and that the families all come back at the weekend to serve the tourists.

Since we still had 2 hours left before the ferry we walked what was left of the island.

 

The hike was quite exhausting because we walked on the rocks a lot and the hot/humid weather didn’t help (Mom don’t fret, I had sunscreen and all other necessary equipment).

The water was transparent, the sand white and the rocks impressive!

It was a really nice little adventure but Jeff said we missed one of the main spots, but getting there involved some rock walking right next to the sea with no other hikers around so we gave up on that (in case one of us got washed away).