Visiting Hong Kong has always been a strange experience for me. The polluted air and hurried movement in crowded streets aren’t precisely conducive to any form of relaxation, which is my main criterion for any vacation. That being said, I’m not entirely repulsed by the rapid pace at which people carry on their daily activities (or the unbelievably quick service at restaurants — I’ve rarely had to wait for more than 10–15 minutes for my food to arrive). Within the chaos is a warm familiarity that brings me back at ease.
Having lived in Hong Kong for 8 years prior to moving to Sydney, many of my earliest childhood memories were based in this small, congested concrete jungle; so while a part of me prefers the vast landscapes, beaches and golden sunlight in Australia, something about Hong Kong feels like home. It’s slightly uncomfortable but it feels familiar. Besides that, there really isn’t much to do there. If you’re not shopping, you’re eating, and if you’re not doing both of those you’re probably being grilled by relatives you haven’t seen a while asking if you have a girlfriend, what your career plans are, how much money you’ve spent whilst overseas (to which my answer is always a polite chuckle and zero eye contact), etcetera.
Neither is the scenery your inspirational United Kingdom, Sherlock Holmes-esque artwork with delicate and pretty details laced on the outside of ordinary shops. The buildings are practical and organised, but they’re not neat either. People always seem to be rushing somewhere, and they probably are; but when you’re visiting as a tourist who has lived there for 8 years, but spent 13 years abroad in a place that doesn’t rush at all (bless Australia and its carefree lifestyle), it’s an entirely peculiar experience when you don’t have somewhere to be, because you’re on holidays, but you feel the need to adapt to the hurried mindset everybody seems to have adopted. But at the same time, does one really need to adapt to the customs of a place when they’ve spent most of their childhood there? And why do I feel like such a foreigner every time I go back? So while it’s nice to be back every now and then, Hong Kong still remains a strange holiday destination for me.