So we’re back at work and while I’m really not enjoying how long it’s taking me to get used to waking up so early again, I’ve got a great sense of clarity and calm after one of the most restful and memorable holidays I’ve ever had. I’m able to plan, prioritise and think clearly, and just walk away when it’s time to finish for the day. However, outside the sense of community I’ve gained at work and the relationships I’ve built with friends, I’m still finding elements of Hong Kong repugnant and wondering how long this culture shock is going to last, or if it is something else, perhaps a change of direction.
Having spent the summer out of Hong Kong (I will get around to writing more about the trip soon!), I’m noticing interactions and how I act and react with fresh eyes. I’m still grumbling and calling out those urban transgressions, and I’m aware how every time I go out I’ve got my guard up. I hate this aggression, I really do. So, nothing much has changed since my last post, in that sense.
Except I went out to dinner and my guard dropped. We were at a quiet restaurant that serves ethical, organic and beautiful food that caters to various dietary requirements (what sounds wanky or unspectacular back home is so, so rare here) and I realised it was the most amount of personal space we’d ever had in a restaurant in Hong Kong, bar anything overly extravagant. There were only a few other customers and we didn’t need to shout to be heard. I suddenly felt like we were back in Amsterdam and all that tension in my shoulders melted away. I smiled, laughed, and was entirely present.
Feeling like I was back in my favourite cafe
So I’ve seen that I can capture that feeling of lightness and be the person I want to be in Hong Kong, and the problem (or solution) is finding the right environment.
On the way to the taxi rank, we walked with our arms around each other, huddled under an umbrella focusing on our own conversation rather than the moronic misuse of umbrellas that accompanies any instance of rain, however heavy, in Hong Kong.
The rain was really heavy when the cab pulled up to our place, and we were more focused on not getting drenched than the fare. After he’d driven away, we realised the taxi driver who had been so pleasant and had urged us to be careful in the rain had overcharged us by doubling the toll.
Hong Kong, you test me.