Hong Kong / 香港, Personal / 秘密, Travel / 探險
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Ten Days in Hong Kong, 2014

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photos via my immensely talented friend Jamie Kao of bytuesday

• • •

Hong Kong blindsided me. It all happened so fast. I’ve never given the city much thought – for many Taipei expats, Hong Kong is alternately a destination for a three-day weekend of no-limits decadence and indulgence, or a convenient destination for a visa run. I personally had a vendetta against the city, being completely overwhelmed on a previous visa-run fiasco of a weekend. It took two visits to strike Paris is off my list, for good. Hong Kong, I opined, had been crossed off in one. 

• • •

I was swamped in a bout of finals madness at the end of June, desperately browsing Facebook in the off-chance that it would miraculously provide motivation for me to hit the books again. A message came in from a friend, a Taipei-based tech writer who’d always been vigilant in providing me with job listings…“I know you hate Hong Kong, but this position is too perfect of a fit for you not to go for it, and I’m guessing you could hammer out a deal to work remotely,” it read. I scanned, I considered. I was moving to Stockholm at the end of July. I still had loads of things to do in Taipei before I left. It would be entirely irresponsible for me to go – decadent, even.

• • •

A mere week later – I was hired and on a plane to Hong Kong. I stayed for ten days, learning Central and Sheung Wan, Kowloon and Causeway Bay.

• • •

I’ve left Taipei dozens of times since I moved to the city over two years ago. Every single time – whether I was coming in from Sri Lanka or Sweden – landing in Taipei never failed to feel right. It had been fun, all those beaches, all those monuments and marble-tiled echoing halls…but Taipei was the place. 

And yet this time, when I returned, I watched the plane taxi slowly into Taoyuan, I took the bus ride into the city, through the palms and the sleepy Sunday streets. I was shocked by the sense that Hong Kong was the reality – while I was drifting back into a dream.

 • • •

In my ten days, Hong Kong overwhelmed me. I was constantly confused, always exhausted, my eyes never seemed to be wide enough to see it all. I cried two times, once in a cab and once sitting in the fluorescent glow of a grimy stairwell.

But I came away with an insatiable craving for city nights, city streets, dizzying heights. Scaling rooftops and weaving through crowds and  staying out too late and falling in love every week and seeing the sunrise too many times without sleep.

Hong Kong is a city of decadence tailor made for the young – a place where you can eat a bowl of organic granola in the morning out of a misguided fit of conscientiousness and be drunk as a skunk in by mid-afternoon, shot glasses still stinking of tequila in the heat, before cleaning yourself up for a gallery opening full of art you don’t even understand –  because it seems that all things are permissible for the young, bright eyes hungry to make their mark, unafraid to be generous with their mistakes, all under the mantra of –

wellaren’t we young?  Aren’t we hungry, aren’t we fearless?

• • •

And so all this to say – I’m planning on making the move to Hong Kong come January, provided that I’m able to find a university to accept me as a visiting student. I plan to both study and work (and network). As much as Taipei has given me, what it can’t give me is the type of writing opportunities that I need to truly make a career of it. I made more viable connections in Hong Kong within ten days than I’d probably garner in ten years of Taipei living. I spent a portion of my time in Hong Kong interviewing notable creatives and entrepreneurs. One of these people, a veritable man-about-town, rattled off a list of things he loathed about Hong Kong before explaining why he still called Hong Kong his home. It had to do with the hunger of the city; Hong Kong as this place that’ll push you around, beat you up – but can take you where you want to go, if you want it badly enough. If your mind is young enough, if your heart is hungry enough.

 You know, moving to Taipei was a bit of that as well – things fell in place for me to move and  study in the city within a couple of weeks. Or perhaps they didn’t really fall into place at all. I’m willing to admit that perhaps it was more due to the fact that I chose to interpret all the signs as go, all the lights as green.

With this impending move to Hong Kong, I may be doing the same.

• • •

Because who knows what’ll happen. Perhaps the worst.

But for the young and the hungry, the very worst thing we could do is not try. 

• • •

photos via my immensely talented friend Jamie Kao of bytuesday

4 Comments

  1. Amazing entry. Wishing I could write more like you! I’m sure you’ll go many places with your talents! The trick a lot of the time when offered with opportunities abound is to be able to select which ones are best for you and to grab these with both hands. If it feels right then likelihood is that it is the right thing to do. I don’t doubt your move to Hong Kong will reap you many more rewards 🙂

    • Stephanie Hsu says

      Thank you, Kan! I’m really hoping that Hong Kong turns out to be as exciting as I hope it to be – and totally agree with you, I don’t really believe in “right” choices – you have certain choices and then you try to make them the right choice through hard work and determination and wisdom, of course. Well, time (and the blog) will tell!

  2. Jeremy says

    January? Awesome! Looking forward to seeing you again in this big crazy city.

    • Stephanie Hsu says

      Well, we will see! Depends on a ton of factors, but really hoping that I can pull this one off.

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