Having now been away from Shangers and back in Europe for a little while, I’ve been asked quite a few times if I’d prefer to stay here rather than go back to Asia. After all, some of the many plus sides to being in France for a few months, and in stark contrast to China are:
- Cheese. Lots and lots of it. God, I love cheese.
- Ability to drive or be a passenger in a car without fear of imminent death in a twisted, rusty, smoking pile of 18-year-old VW Santana (pineapple air freshener optional).
- Air that is breathable rather than a brown toxic soup somewhat approximating air. The sort of air that makes your lungs feel pink and brings to mind the word ‘crisp’.
- UK telly on Sky. This is not necessarily a plus. I note that they brought back Dallas on Channel 5. Mmm-hmm.
- Internet speeds that enable, not hinder, your ability to check your email/illegally download all series of Breaking Bad/buy unsuitable shoes on designer discount websites
- The relative affordability of breakfast cereal. Supermarkets of Asia: muesli is NOT a luxury item.
Despite all these obvious plus points, I still find I’m missing lots about Hong Kong (not so much Shanghai), and in particular:
- HK Magazine. I love it.
- The comedy way in which Mid-Levels-dwellers are BOGGLED when you say you went to Tai O last Saturday for a day out. (Like, how long did that even take?? I only went over to Kowloon that one time and I got a nosebleed going up Nathan Road from all the touts shouting at me and had to get the Star Ferry back and hotfoot it back up to Stauntons for a drink ‘cos I got all panicky…)
- … but are more than happy to take a 15 hour flight to the States on a Friday night for a friend’s wedding. And be back at their desk on Monday morning.
- The fact that the sun rises and sets at nearly the same time all year round. I like that sort of certainty in my life.
- The reassuring expense of Dymocks and Bookazine. Makes buying a book seem like a genuinely special occasion.
- The door close button in the lift. Did you know that some European lifts don’t even have one? Savages.
- That no-one infers I’m a terrible and irresponsible parent for raising my child in an apartment. Without a garden.
- Taking taxis without crippling guilt, or a prior call to my bank.
- My son will learn all the most useful swear words in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, French and most probably Tagalog.
Overall, I’m enjoying my extended European sojourn, but am looking forward to getting back to whatever version of reality passes as my life quite soon. Ideally before my inevitable Brie-induced coronary.