Monday, December 08, 2014

Greetings from Hong Kong #1

Apologies - It has been awhile! I have been very busy with my new job and roles; bidding farewell to family and friends in Mongolia; settling in Hong Kong; launching Mongolian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong (MonCham); and overcoming challenges a young lady faces in a big city - a new life, a new language, new responsibilities, new colleagues, new friends and new EVERYTHING!

How did this happen? I am yet again a foreigner in a foreign country. When will I stop and settle in? When will I stop challenging myself to a bigger and harder world? "You should settle down and get married soon, otherwise you will be infertile before you know it!" joked one of my guy friends. In response, I wanted to slap him and shake him into some sense, but instead I laughed with everyone else and acknowledged that I am not getting any younger - it is true. What was that someecards statement again? Oh yeah:
"I am at that awkward age where half my friends are engaged and having babies and the other half are too drunk to even find their phones"
Well, I am neither.

Those who follow me on Instagram @Batzul already know that I am living in Hong Kong; those who do not, well now you know! My friends are telling me that I am super lucky to be away from this "Utaanbaatar Disaster" in winter and I must be in heaven; but I am re-experiencing the cultural shock all over again even though I know Hong Kong since I was 13 years old. To name few, here are my top 7 highlights of Hong Kong:

1. Hong Kong Protest

At first, I was very impressed with young Honkies revolting against the mighty China! I moved to Hong Kong exactly in October (despite my family's concerns of the dangers), so I was following what was happening in Hong Kong very closely and I was thrilled and cautious at the same time to experience this historical (Was/Is it yet another Tiananmen Square Protest?) moment between Hong Kong and mainland China. I will always remember the gathering of 100,000 people between Causeway Bay and Mong Kok, tear gas, and massive international media coverages - it was really impressive!

However, the hype started wearing off in November and even more in December. The locals started getting tired of the blocked roads, which constantly created a traffic jam, and started demanding to open the roads again. Slowly, the international media started to leave Hong Kong as they also noticed that this was getting over.

From this, I really admired how the Chinese Government handled this HK Protest. Had they done more damage than the tear gas, the whole Hong Kong nationals and their international supporters would have stood up against China far more seriously. The Chinese Government simply decided to ignore them and the locals did the rest by demanding the roads to be open again. This just proved how sly and genius the Chinese Government is with their constant changing strategies. Anyways, this talk can go on and on and on...

[Photo: Showing you the blocked roads from Sevva Bar, Central HK]


2. My tiny apartment

It is small. Of course, it is small - 7 million people live on a 1,104km2 land in Hong Kong. Mongolia has 2.9 million people on a land of 1,564,115.7km2! Most surprisingly though, my balcony is as big as my apartment. It should be a small cafe, I thought at first. I found it silly and a total waste of space, so  I told myself to find another apartment ASAP. But as I have started visiting other people's apartments with no balcony, I understood that I had an amazing apartment with amazing balcony where I can host my friends over a BBQ party; do a little gardening with flowers and trees, enjoy my tea outside; do yoga; lie down & tan; read a book, etc. So, I slowly started loving my little heavenly home.

3. The weather

Luckily I haven't experienced HK summer yet - apparently it is too hot to even walk for 5 min. The winter is the best season, the locals confess. Right now it is 17C - Mongolians might think this is warm, but it is actually bit chilly with its humid nature. Very cold from the bottom, like in Scandinavia - "wet" cold. Also, Hong Kong sometimes rainstorms on us, which you may think we would hate, but locals love it, because it means "A holiday!"

4. The nightlife

The nightlife never ends! The night lights are beautiful, especially if you are on a boat - all the buildings have their own unique light shows. The place that everyone goes to is LKF - a famous street for bar hopping, clubbing, eating and hanging. There will be so many girls with high heels and fake eyelashes; and there will be men in their mid 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s...60s :P Even on Monday, you can go to DragonI and party with the models. Apparently all the models go to DragonI on Monday night to eat dim sum and party there when they are done munching. I had no idea DragonI was a dim sum place!

Anyways, people are super friendly, because just like me they also just moved to Hong Kong and/or know what I am going through, so they give friendly tips and invite you to their BBQ parties, house parties, lunches, dinners, birthdays and farewell parties. Extremely friendly to strangers! In Copenhagen, foreigners tend to get outcasted a bit at first, but here everyone is international and very welcoming.

5. Safety

I was 13 when I first visited Hong Kong and i remember my parents telling me that this city is a safe place. Still it is considered one of the safest cities in the world, so when something bad happens (i.e.: a British Banker from Merrill Lynch killed 2 prostitutes in his apartment in Wan Chai, including one hidden inside his suitcase on a balcony) it will be on the front pages of the newspapers for several days.

6. Do not speak in Mandarin here

Honkies are allergic to people from mainland China. They proudly speak in Cantonese to make a point and if you speak Mandarin to them, you wouldn't necessarily get a friendly reply back. Every day, there are thousands of mainland tourists coming to Hong Kong with their fat wallets (i.e.: There were 4.7 million mainland tourists in 2013) to shop in the luxury stores (i.e.: LV) with lower taxes. Some simply come and start buying apartments in Hong Kong, which increases the housing prices and pisses off the locals even more, because it is becoming harder and harder for the locals to buy their own apartments in Hong Kong.

7. Transportation

When you live and work Central, you get spoiled and start calling Kowloon the "Dark Side". Nevertheless, you can easily get to places with your "Octopus Card", which is one of the best things that happened to Hong Kong! You may pay with your octopus in metro, trams, buses, 7/11s, most convenient and grocery shops, coffee shops, book stores, movie theatres, etc. Perfect for people who hate carrying heavy coins!

The only transportation problem I have in Hong Kong is the taxi drivers. Before, I remember clearly that I could talk to taxi drivers in English when I was a child and go wherever I want; but now as more mainland Chinese taxi drivers are working in Hong Kong, it is becoming a challenge to show them where I want to go. If you get lucky, you'd get the Honkie driver and he would speak and understand you perfectly in English; but if you are not, you would get one of those angry, impatient, loud and "speaking on the phone" mainland Chinese drivers that only understand where you want to go if you show them the "Google Map" address in Mandarin.

Well, there you go!

I am thinking of doing a photo-taking tour this weekend with my professional camera and as soon as I am done editing them, I will publish the final products on my blog. Till next time then!

Xoxo,
B.