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Living in Hong Kong with your young family

Hong Kong Story

It’s interesting to think just how much Hong Kong has changed in the very short space of time since I relocated here with my young family 18 months ago. This city had everything going for it. There was a kinetic energy – a bustle. Something that made you feel a part of something bigger and busier than yourself. 

For our young family it was a cacophony of trams, temples, skyscrapers, trains, shopping malls and street shops. Everyone seemed perpetually in high gear. Yet over the span of 8 months, energy became anxiousness, confidence morphed into concern and prosperity turned to protests. The glowing neon signs, the luxurious malls and the sprawling food courts all hid something beneath.

Before moving over in 2018, I hadn’t really paid too much attention to the type of government Hong Kong had. But in the space of months, it became clear that local residents felt that the government wasn’t up to the task. Shady legislation, ambiguous language and unspoken ties meant that the everyday Hong Kong residents felt captive to the whim of the CEO and her administration – all acting on behalf of mainland China. But even after all the protests, there was still a city standing here, and a sense of reason endured. As we turned the corner into 2020, it was a feeling of when not if the protests would be resolved. 

Hence, there are still things that hold true in Hong Kong.

  1. The people of Hong Kong are proud.
  2. The natural elements of this city are astounding
  3. The social topics are complex, but the passion is immeasurable.

With this in mind, here are the five constants that made Hong Kong home for the past 18 months.

A sense of rugged adventure

Precariously positioned between skyscrapers and weaving roads of congested traffic, Hong Kong is a high-octane city that never sleeps. But, it’s also a breath of fresh air! 

Small and beautiful, Hong Kong is a city with hidden treasures in every nook and cranny. Dragon’s Back is Hong Kong’s most revered hiking trail, and whether you actually hike it or not, you’re bound to discuss it around the workplace watercooler. 

During the hike, you’ll come across a mountain gap in the trail which locals say is a fantastic spot for paragliding and kite flying. The end of the trail is connected to Tai Long Wan, where you can (after all that hiking) finally take a break to enjoy the sun and the sand. The full roundtrip hike takes about 4 hours, but it’s a relatively easy trek, even for beginners. To get there, jump the MTR to Shau Kei Wan station, and take Exit A to Shau Kei Wan Bus Terminus. Hop on Bus 9 or the minibus with the sign ‘Shek O’ next to the bus terminus. It’s incredibly easy to get to with kids and I guarantee that they’ll be just as thrilled by it.

Traditional neighbourhoods

Sheung Wan is a classic reminder of where Hong Kong’s been and where it’s going. With incessant energy, this neighbourhood is a vivid melting pot of Eastern and Western influences. You’ll find artisan cafes next to temples, galleries and discrete bars next to traditional medicine shops and shabby colonial shopfronts. If there’s only one thing you get to it should be the Western Market, the oldest surviving market building from the British-occupied past. Dried Seafood Street, Medicine Street, and Graham Street all provide an atmospheric glance into Hong Kong’s age-old eating and self-medicating habits.

Shopping

Very quaint, very creative, and very hipsterish, PMQ on Aberdeen Street is a heritage-listed building that has been repurposed as a local creative hub. The full experience spans more than 90 design galleries, shops, bookstores and office units. On top of that, there are pop-ups and a monthly night market with local fashion, food, and crafts, all housed under one roof.

Top Secret Partying

Forget LKF. The greatest adventure in all of Hong Kong is finding the hidden speakeasies around Central. For an out-of-this-world experience, explore Hong Kong’s plethora of clandestine speakeasies that will take you several eras back in time once you step past entrance blankets or bookcases. They’re broody, sophisticated, and easy to miss if you don’t know what you’re looking for. So rather than tell you where to try, explore a little bit and find them for yourself.

Chilled Weekend

If HK island is a little too busy for your likes, then Lantau or Lamma Islands are a far less overcrowded experience. With lush green hills, sleepy fishing villages, and glorious seafood by the waterfront – these remote little islands are a huge contrast to Hong Kong’s constant bustle and noise. If you get the chance, O Tsai Fishing Village in the evening is an ideal spot to watch the sunset!

Alternatively, visit the Shun Hei which dates back to the era of the Southern Song dynasty, and was once occupied by Japan during World War II. Or even head over to Tai O and spot a white dolphin! It’s the perfect spot for travellers longing to catch a glimpse of the creature that cannot be found elsewhere in the world. The fishing village is also packed with interesting stilt houses, built above the water.

More than anything else, Hong Kong is still one of the safest places to travel and to do business in the world. There is a way back to reasoned discussion, social stability and long-term prosperity. The opportunity exists now for everyone, all around the world, to stand with Hong Kong.

It’s a city that will continue to lead. It will continue to be a hub for international trade, technology, finance and creative industries.  While it’s been through its fair share of struggles recently, Hong Kong can overcome the current challenges. Some foreign forces have intervened and distorted the truth, but every citizen should shoulder their responsibility to defend the rule of law.

It’s a shame that our time here is over after only such a brief stint, but it’s a place that we’ll treasure for all of the above and more!