Three years in

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May 1st marked the anniversary of the end of Paul’s three-year contract with the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority. I liked the idea of living here for three years—it seemed just enough time to get to know the place well, not too long and not too short. But Paul would like to see his projects get a little further along, we are content here and time flies, so we will be staying for another two years.

Paul works really hard all the time. His days are spent in one long meeting after another. He is constantly challenged by—and challenging—the many archaic and obstructionist government policies that get in the way of quality and efficiency here. He really enjoys and respects his team and has a good network of consultants and companies on the projects currently underway. He’s excited about the next phase which includes a concert hall, something he really wants to build. The problem, from my point of view, is that he works so much that he doesn’t really have a life. He’s no more comfortable with that than I am and it’s really hard to find a balance.

The work front has been a little more chaotic for me. I re-started my marketing consultancy here, then did a full-on stint as Director of Marketing for the HK Philharmonic Orchestra for a year and am now back to consulting. I am currently working again with Premiere Performances, HK’s main presenter of recitals and chamber music (my first HK contract was with this company). I am also thrilled to have just signed on as a consultant for Global Philanthropic, an international network of fundraising professionals. It’s a small world; once I started talking to them I realized I have all sorts of connections to people in the company in Canada (where they have a large presence) and HK. I continue to look for other interesting projects that need communications and strategic planning. I do manage to have more of a life outside of work than Paul and am happy to have more time to take care of things on the home front again.

Never in a million years would I have expected that our daughter Ainsleigh would also be living and working in Hong Kong! She was in university when we left Canada and graduated in December 2016. Following a successful summer internship, she is working full-time for Premiere Performances as Development Officer. Fundraising is an interest that started when she was on the Executive of her Varsity rowing team, and she quickly proved to have real instincts. Combined with her music background, this job is the perfect start for her and the international experience won’t hurt her one bit. She is also rock climbing and slack lining and playing violin in a quartet. Now she has a life.

Yup, that’s my kid hanging from a rope at HK’s iconic Lion Rock. This is the type of activity I prefer to hear about after the fact.

Here are a few “bests” about living here:

  • Our apartment. It’s bright and spacious, even with the addition of an unexpected tenant. We were so, so lucky to find a great landlord who has not raised our rent and is very responsive when we need help. We like being away from the city core; it’s cooler and quieter up here, and the amenities and environment are very pleasant. It’s a great escape from the bustle of the city.

The red marker shows the location of our apartment complex in relation to HK Island. It’s at about 300 metres elevation on the edge of Tai Tam Country Park.

This is the view from our apartment window. Sometimes we get really cool cloud formations like this. Sometimes we are completely in the clouds, especially in winter.

  • Best buy: My Siemens counter-top dishwasher! I LOVE this thing. Dishwashers are not common in HK apartments, partly because of size but mostly because most people (not us) have live-in helpers. I’m so glad to have a machine to take care of this ever-present domestic chore.

This machine is compact, works like a charm and holds a lot. It makes me happy.

  • The weather. It’s very consistent here and rarely goes below 15 degrees Celsius. I have three dehumidifiers going 24/7 and I don’t mind the frequent 85% to 100% humidity. There’s not much visible differentiation between seasons but I don’t miss at all what comes between fall and spring in Canada.
  • Public transportation. Wow, Hong Kong’s has got to be the best in the world. Quiet, cheap, orderly, easy to navigate, takes you everywhere from the islands right up to the border with China. We have no need for a car.
  • Things we miss most about living in Canada:

A carillon keyboard. There is no carillon here so there’s no way to practice. The nearest instruments are in Europe. I’m so sad to have lost this.

  • Biggest disappointment: Cantonese food. I have failed to master Cantonese cooking. A lot of things in the market are still mysterious to me and I have yet to embrace the rubbery textures common in this cuisine like chicken feet, abalone and sea urchin. Every kind of food imaginable is available in Hong Kong so it’s not like we’re going hungry, but my “When in Rome” attitude has been thwarted in this regard.
  • Biggest surprise: The speed and efficiency with which Hong Kong is being taken over by China. Even three years have brought huge encroachment. It won’t be long before HK is just another Chinese city.

I’m happy about the idea of another two years here. We are loving this experience and wouldn’t trade it for all the tea in China!!