In Hong Kong the traffic lights tell first time visitors a lot about the energy of this frenetic city. The clacking sound they make counting down to when a pedestrian can cross the road is like a starting gun. Once that little green man flashes, the sound picks up considerable pace, like a scatter gun. Nowhere on earth has a faster sounding pedestrian crossing noise, I’d bet, than Hong Kong.
Life in this city is fast, sometimes too fast, hence my decision years ago to live on an outlying island.
When I got my first full time job in HK in the autumn of 2000 a colleague told me that once you’d worked in Hong Kong you could work anywhere else in the world, so hard do they work you down in this Cantonese former colony.
Many who live on the mainland give the SAR a bad rap, saying it has no future and its expats are a bunch of fat so and sos. I will always stand up for Hong Kong and its amazing opportunities it offers people with ambition. Its stunning skyline – the best in the world – reflects the citizens’ repeated ability to reinvent themselves to fit in with the regional and global economy.
Nevertheless, after eight and a half years this November I decided it was time to sample a different paced life. I’ve decamped to what the locals in my new environs like to call the Hong Kong of the North; Dalian in Liaoning province. It’s got a long way to go if it really does want to become the Hong Kong of the North. For starters, the pedestrian crossing noise is way too slow. Still, it’s high time I learnt Mandarin and this lovely city is the perfect place to do so, and should make for a more interesting blog, which now, post crazy busy HK, I should have more time to spend writing.