"Wealth will increasingly be defined by our ability to go offline whenever we want." - Fernando Gros
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Blog // Travel
October 8, 2006

How Are We Doing?

It’s a question I’m getting asked a lot these days, now that we are into our fourth month here in Hong Kong. Not surpringly, the answer is mixed. For my young daughter, it has been a period of serious adjustment. High rise living is a long way removed from the home she new in India […]

It’s a question I’m getting asked a lot these days, now that we are into our fourth month here in Hong Kong. Not surpringly, the answer is mixed.

For my young daughter, it has been a period of serious adjustment. High rise living is a long way removed from the home she new in India on nearly 3 private acres. She missed her nanny, but also all the rest of the staff, her nursery school, her church (sunday school), friends and all the other familar faces (shopkeepers, gardners, golf pros, etc). She is loving her school, but it’s scale is beyond her experience.

The main this is in India as she experienced it, she was special everywhere she went. For her (if not for me), Delhi was a couteous and respectful place. By contrast, here she is anonymous, not all that welcomed and often bustled about. In our first few weeks here she was frequently knocked over by rushed and impatient people.

For L, her job is challenging and interesting, but she missed the breadth and scope of the work in India. That is such a huge and complex country to work in, with so many daily (and random) challenges.

For me, it is great to find some peace and quiet. Moreover, it is a relief to be free from power, generator, internet, cable tv and water problems and repairs. Initially I did not know what to do with the time and it has been wonderful to focus on more writing, more music and more reflection.

For all of us, the shopping, ease of transport and food is a total joy.

However, it is, to be honest, pretty lonely. I miss playing golf – a lot. It’s also fair to say I haven’t made any real friends yet and since we have been unable to connect with a church, any sense of Christian community either. In a few short months I have gone from never having lunch alone to always having lunch alone.

I guess that is the nature of the expatriate life – you trade one set of positives and negatives for another.

Responses
andrea 16 years ago

Well put.

This afternoon, I discussed living in Hong Kong with another expat friend. She said, “Hong Kong is very easy to live in, but Hong Kong is not easy to love.” I agree.

I’ve lived here for more than a year now, I’m still trying to feel at home.

John Smulo 16 years ago

It’s really interesting to hear your thoughts on Hong Kong Fernando. It’s one thing to get a brief tourist’s impression, as I just have. It’s always a completely different thing to get an impression of a place after living there for months.

I can’t even imagine how much of a difference it would be living in India with several acres to living in what must be a compatively small apartment–I don’t think I saw even one house anywhere in Hong Kong! Do they exist?

It’s amazing how many tall buildings there are everywhere in Hong Kong. Also, I passed the port on the way to the airport today and couldn’t believe how huge it is. I must have passed it on the day I got here but I wasn’t fully aware.

Fernando Gros 16 years ago

Andrea – thanks for the comment. Your friend has really nailed the way I’m feeling about this place. To me it is a big contrast with London, where I fell for the city even before I made friends and networks.

Rodd Jefferson 16 years ago

Fernando,

This is a great post – thanks for posting this open and honest reflection on your life experience. I’m praying for you too, and your family. I only wish I was able to do more – even more we have in common (Fatherhood, jazz music, passion for worship music, and now golf!!).

Fernando Gros 16 years ago

Thanks John. Yes, you can see a few pictures on the Flickr account of our house in India. There are free standing houses and duplex-style townhouses in HK, but you either pay a real premium for them (25-50K US a month), or need to move a long way from the centre of town. The port you passed en route is pretty amazing, but it is not the only one in HK!

Maybe I should take some more photos?!?

Fernando Gros 16 years ago

Hey Rodd, thanks. Yes, add golf to the list. Actually, one of the most frequent google searches that brings people to this blog has to do with curing shanks, which goes back to some posts quite a while back. I have been meaning for a while to write a little article on shanking, maybe this week I’ll get around to it.

John Smulo 16 years ago

Wow, that’s a lot of money. Explains why I saw so many very tall apartment buildings.
I’ll check out the house in India. You should take more photos.

I can’t believe that’s not the only port in HK! The one I passed on the way home from San Francisco airport last night doesn’t look even a quarter of the size of the one I passed in Hong Kong.

I took some photos and I’m going to put them up today or tomorrow.

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