Well, I’m down to my last weekend in Hong Kong.
When I arrived from Mainland China nearly one month earlier, my plans were simple: give my extra suitcase to Fan (a friend visiting from the States), spend one weekend out partying, a few days to take in the sights, then head back across the border. But when Joe made the generous offer of allowing me to stay at his spectacularly luxurious apartment right in the midst of the island, the option of hanging around until New Year suddenly seemed a lot more appealing. I suddenly had a comfortable, English-speaking, easy-to-navigate city at my fingertips – the perfect place to catch up on work during the day and enjoy experiencing during the night.
Still, the problem was that when I arrived I really didn’t know anyone at all. Here I was in one of the most notoriously action-packed cities in the world, and nobody to share it with. At times I found myself feeling quite lonely and socially isolated. It was very different from when I’d go out alone in Kyoto or Osaka, knowing that within minutes I’d run into half a dozen friends and acquaintances. Here, I knew nobody.
But now, during my last Saturday night, the stay has finally just reached its climax. Three weeks ago I would’ve probably been sitting in my room debating if I should even bother going out. But now, as I sit on the MTR typing this post on my cellphone, I find myself trying to decide which club’s guest list to take advantage of. Do I meet up with Erica from Indonesia, Joe from Hong Kong, Sascha from Germany, or Zach from the US? Do I go out in LKF, Wan Chai, or Tsim Sha Tsui? Do I stay out late to see Stephanie after work, or go to bed early to say goodbye to Lishan before my departure?
Just like when I was separating from my Israeli soldier friends in Tel Aviv, this feels nothing like ending a trip – it feels like leaving a home. Even if it was a temporary one.
A long-term backpacker lives his life in sections. Those sections can last as short as a day or as long as a year – or more. But in my experience, a month is about the point at which a place starts to feel like a “home” instead of a “visit” – because that’s how long it takes, for me at least, to develop a real social network. That’s how long it takes before I’m no longer carrying a guidebook or eating at McDonald’s, but calling up friends and eating at local joints.
And yet, there was one other thing about Hong Kong that made it different from most of my other recent short-term residences.
Joe and his wife Selene.
I’ve already mentioned how generous and hospitable they were – never did I expect to find myself living with a couple for nearly thirty days – but over those days, despite the fact that I spent most of my time locked away programming or out playing, they really did start to feel like family. I’m gonna miss them. I was touched when Selene told me she’d really gotten used to me being around, and was sad to see me go.
Thank you again, guys. You were wonderful 🙂