One year ago, I left my job in Beijing and set about making my exit from mainland China. Now, I’ve been in Hong Kong for three months in a new job and gradually settling in. I sometimes think that just a few months ago, which included a trip to Sri Lanka, I would never have imagined I’d be working here, taking the tram to work everyday and getting used to high prices for everything from rent to food. I’ve traded smog for fog, Mandarin for Cantonese, the chaotic, every-man-for-himself bustle of Beijing for the frenetic but orderly energy of Hong Kong.
I didn’t exactly leave Beijing with a heavy heart, in fact it was the opposite, but recently, I occasionally have slightly fond memories about a few bits of Beijing.
I certainly don’t miss the daily nonsense, the rudeness and the deceitfulness that was common, the awful smog and nasty water, nor living in a society governed by one of the worst regimes in the world. But I do miss the sense of being in a famous city with a grand history and the center of a massive albeit very flawed civilization, interesting and wacky scenes of a society in flux with great divides that is still developing (or going backwards depending on your perspective). Hong Kong has a lot going on and there are many interesting scenes in daily life, but it is a more sophisticated, polished and developed society. Hong Kong also doesn’t have the mix of people from across China (my Chinese colleagues were from at least 8 provinces), the historical sites with many hundreds of years of history, the hutongs, which I appreciate though I don’t have the soft spot for them like a lot of expats do, or real winter. I’ve put up a few photos of the better bits of Beijing I liked.