"Let life enchant you again." - Fernando Gros
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Blog // Travel
May 18, 2011

There Comes A Time

“There comes a time in life To pull on your coat and go outside”* June 3 will mark the end of my fifth year in Hong Kong. It will be the last such anniversary for me. The time has come to move on and build a new home in a new city. Some astute readers […]

Lamma Island Cove

“There comes a time in life
To pull on your coat and go outside”*

June 3 will mark the end of my fifth year in Hong Kong. It will be the last such anniversary for me. The time has come to move on and build a new home in a new city. Some astute readers have already guessed the destination – Singapore.

“To taste the vinegar of life, bitter life
To taste a second time, its sweet surprise
Sweet surprise”

This is not a “one city is better than another” kind of decision. Although I’ve not always enjoyed life in Hong Kong, the reality is that what makes a city attractive to any of us depends on a lot of personal variables.

Moreover, I have genuinely enjoyed my last two years here. Starting my music company was a huge personal breakthrough and being in Hong Kong made that easier. Turning my photographic hobby into a serious pursuit was also something that happened here. And, in the past two years I’ve met some amazing people, realised some great collaborations and made some good friends.

“It’s not that hard to figure it out
When there’s no question, there’s no doubt
I burned an effigy to time, senseless time
To view the miracle, but the water was still wine
And that was my crime”

The reality is I made some mistakes in my first couple of years here. We moved to Hong Kong expecting to only be here for two to three years and when the picture changed, I didn’t adapt quickly enough.

“There is a face in the stone
We let it out to find its form”

If I’d known I was going to be here for five years, then upon arriving I would have learnt Cantonese, started my company sooner, gotten more involved in networking events and so on. But, we make the decisions based on the way things look at the time. The decisions I made in 2006 revolved around improving my craft, as a musician and writer and although they put me on a lonely path, I don’t regret the skills and knowledge acquired during those years.

“To shape the testament of will, strongest will
Pride, humility, a bitter pill
Bitter pill”

Of course, at the end of five years, especially five sometimes unhappy years, mistakes and misteps stand out like untanned interlopers on a summer beach. I’ve spent more time alone in Hong Kong than anywhere else I’ve lived. And, I’ve often felt alone in a crowd, out of step with the pace and flow of the city.

“Sweet surrender, oh my Lord
I never thought I’d see”

In the end I’ve adjusted to this place and learnt to love what it has to offer. The ebb and flow of festivals, the food and shopping, the hiking and the safety and security. If you are willing to compromise and accommodate, this can be an easy city to live and have fun in (assuming you have some cash).

“Not surprising, still I find
I’m shaking, crying
But I’m laughing, softly”

So, I’ve taken a path that has seen me do what I can do in this place to feel like I’m moving forward. But, I haven’t managed to find musical collaborators, I haven’t grown as a musician (in the last few years) and I haven’t managed to finish the musical projects I set myself upon moving here.

However much I’ve enjoyed spreading my creative wings with photography, expanding into some professional creative writing and connecting with innovative folks in the tech world I’m not growing in the key area of my vocation, music.

“There comes a time in the life
To pull on your coat and go outside”

So, it’s time to step out of my comfort zone and move to a city with more of a live music scene (and especially more of a jazz scene). It will be tough, theres’s a lot of things (and people) I’ll miss and it might all be in vain. Who knows.

But, it’s time.

*Lyrics quoted in this post are from There Comes A Time, by Glen Phillips. You can see the song performed live on YouTube.

Paul 13 years ago

Sad to hear that you’ll be leaving.

Was hoping for more chances to hang out and talk life, the universe, and…well…everything. But I do understand the notion of knowing when it is ‘time’.

That being said, Hong Kong’s loss is Singapore’s gain.

And as Buckaroo Banzai says – …no matter where you go, there you are.


Spike 13 years ago

Oh. Indeed. Sigh.

Fernando Gros 13 years ago

Paul – thanks. Hope we can can chat again before I leave. James & Casey have asked me to pick a Sci-Fi Sunday film for the next screening – though sadly the timeframe won’t allow us to watch Solaris…

Fernando Gros 13 years ago

Spike – hope we can catch some live music together, or a meal, before I leave these shores.

Matea Michelangeli 13 years ago

Fernando wish the best in new home. I’ve also moved several times and I’ve learnt that you have live with the assumption that you’ll stay there a long time (even if you are pretty sure you’re not) so you can feel part of it and enjoy it more.
At least now you’ll have new photo opportunities!

Fernando Gros 13 years ago

Matea – I think you are right. We originally moved to London for 3-4 years, but my mindset was “if I have to live here for the rest of my life, that wouldn’t be a bad thing.” Delhi was a little different, but we did spend a fair bit to rent a really nice house in a good area, which made us feel settled.

Here in Hong Kong we did get sucked into thinking short term. But, we also decided a couple of years back, largely because of the pollution and cost of buying property, that we were unlikely to ever settle here long term.

Toni 13 years ago

I wish you well in your new city, and a relatively painless relocation. Interesting how some of us are destined to remain rooted in one spot while others must wander frequently.

Peace to you and yours in your new place.

Fernando Gros 13 years ago

Toni – you are right. It’s a paradox, since “maturity,” if you’ll forgive me using that word, can come from grounded in one place and can come from exposure to many different ways of life.

Not really sure what I think about that, beyond kind of stating the obvious.

Certainly something I don’t often talk about is that I was mostly formed in a very stable environment. In my very young years my parents moved a lot, including changing continents. But, from grade one, up to the age of 23, I lived in the same house.

Although most people now know me as something of a globetrotter, the reality is that much of what I’ve been committed to over the years (faith, music, art, etc) I fell in love with during those rather stable, even dull years.

Javier I. Sampedro 13 years ago

This makes me realize that in coming october, will be 4 years since I arrived in town. Time really flies and at this point, I don´t know how long I will stay in town. That´s the eternal question.

At first, I thought I´d stay just for short term, initially 15 months but as I enjoyed those months and happy living in town, decided to give a try and extend my time in here. Relocate somewhere? as I worked in IT before, Singapore is also in my mind as a good place to continue my career, you never know.

Hope you have a good life after being settled with your family in there. In case I fly back (as I really like the city), I´ll give you a shout.

Best wishes

Fernando Gros 13 years ago

Javier – thank you. I hope we can catch up in Singapore. It’s a great city and I’m sure a few years there will compliment the experience of Hong Kong nicely.

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