KUNG HEI FAT CHOI !
It seemed fitting with it being the Lunar New Year on January 28th to do a post on what I miss about living in Hong Kong! It never gets old, seeing the look on people's faces when they say "Wait, you grew up where?".
I am so grateful and blessed to have those experiences and to say I grew up in the greatest city in the world! A majority of the friends on my Facebook are people who I met in HK and I know it's home to all of us no matter where life took us after High School Graduation.
There are so many ways in which my life was so different growing up compared to people I know in Canada. I love sharing stories with my Fiancé, Ryan, about our childhoods because of the different types of memories we each have.
The most popular question I get is "So how was living in Japan?" Has that really changed for anyone? Half the time I ignore the "Japan" part and answer the question anyways because I've had one too many sarcastic comments made after I correct them. But the second most popular question I get is "what was that experience like?" Everyones curious to how my way of life out there was and it's fun for me to share because I take such pride of my time in Hong Kong.
I've been back in Canada for 5 and a half years, which is crazy to me. The time is going by way too fast ! Everyone can agree with me when I say "You can take a person out of Hong Kong but you can't take the Hong Kong out of a person". I know this because my house is decorated like I never left! When we moved into our most recent home I painted a red feature wall and created my HK wall. I know at least 95% of people have the "Lang Kwai Fong" sign, a staple in many dorms and apartments!
My HK island painting from Stanley Market hangs above the TV and year round I have my lantern hanging from the ceiling.
I tell everyone they need to visit Hong Kong at least once in their life. I get homesick all the time, why you ask?
|| The Transit System, hands down the best In the world. You'll never get lost, it's so easy to get around and if you miss a train or a bus one is not far behind. the MTR (underground train) is so clean and easy to figure out where to go. The ferry to take you from Kowloon Island to Hong Kong Island is equivalent to less than a dollar Canadian. The underground world in HK is so advanced you can pretty much get from point A to point B without even going outside, perfect for those stormy days!
|| The Food. There is no shortage of restaurants in the city whether you go for a fancier dinner in Soho or the outdoor food places at Temple Street Night Market. Cheap and delicious. There's something about enjoying a nice cold beer whilst watching people shop the stalls along the street. I also love the little food carts around the city, whether you want dumplings, bubble waffle or squid on a stick, it's an awesome snack on the go!
Garlic Prawns from Cheung Chau.. SO good.
|| The Smells. Whenever we had family come visit us from Canada as a kid, the aromas in the air would make some nauseated, like the Stinky Tofu in Mong Kok! You can tell who is nose blind to the smells and who isn't.
|| The Views. There is no doubt that the views no matter where you are in the city are breathtaking. You could be standing at the viewing deck at The Peak, overlooking HK Island or on the Avenue of Stars in Kowloon there's always something to see. I was lucky enough to live in an apartment that had an unobscured view of HK island from the 77th / 78th floor. Plus it's fun to see people's faces when they hear how high up we lived!
The view from every room in our house, this was the last picture I took with my cheap camera of the view before we moved back to Canada.
|| Convenience. You are never in a place where you can't access anything quickly. I lived above Elements Mall in Tsim Sha Tsui and if I wanted a Mc Donalds ice cream, a starbucks or even wanted to see a late night movie in my Pyjama pants, all I had to do was go down in an elevator and I'm there! Not to mention there was the train station and bus depot there too!
|| Hustle and Bustle. The city is constantly on the go, streets are filled with thousands of people late into the night, Everything is usually open till 11pm-12am. I also like the anonymity of being out and about. Sometimes you just want your peace and quiet which seems impossible with all the street noise, but once you plug in some headphones and jam out to tunes you're in your own little zone.
|| Nightlife. Hong Kong has a fantastic nightlife, whether you're out on a Wednesday evening for wine with friends or in Lang Kwai Fong-Wan Chai for an all nighter, there's never a shortage of places to go. I truly miss the days of buying cheap Smirnoff Ice from the 7/11, downing that and then going to the bar for dancing! The fact that growing up people would start going to the bars at 14 / 15 is comical compared to the strict laws in Canada.
|| Exploring. There is never nothing to see. Whether you want to walk to through the markets scattered all over the city for some cheap shopping with air conditioning water dripping on your from above or you want to go for hikes on the outlying islands. It's amazing when you get out to the mountains you think you're on another planet. It's so peaceful and quiet and it really allows you to disconnect from the busy city. The amount of walking everyone does on a daily, keeps you healthy which is a nice bonus. We loved to just hop on a double decker bus and ride it till the end of the line and back to see all the lights at night.
Veggie and Fruit stall in Kowloon
|| Lights. At 8pm along the harbour (or from our living room) we would watch the light and laser show. Thousands of buildings light up the night sky and during CNY and Christmas, the city goes all out with decorating all the buildings. It really is magical.
|| Travel Opportunities. There are so many options for travel being situated where we were. Getting to other Asian countries for a tropical vacation was easy, cheap and incredible and I am so lucky I was able to see as much as I did!
I find myself constantly reminiscing on old times and scrolling through the thousands of pictures I've taken throughout my years there. If you stuck with me and read till now thank you! Happy Year of the Rooster, I wish you all a healthy, happy and prosperous new year. If you don't already have HK listed on your places to travel, I leave you with a time lapse video that leaves me speechless shot by Krill Neiezhmakov. ENJOY !
I would be shocked if you haven't heard of the term "minimalist", the new lifestyle currently trending. Some people are for it, many are not. I used to think it was just about getting rid of all your stuff, to declutter the home, but it's more than that. When you declutter your space, reside in a moderate size square foot home and live within your means, you not only have less to clean, have lower bills to pay, but we also become more aware of what is going on around us. The Minimalist confirmed what I've been trying to tell myself over the last few months.
We are in a day and age where we are made to think that having more stuff in our homes, in our fridge or the newest model iPhone means that we hold a higher status amongst our peers, that we are happy. Truth is though, none of these things matter. Physical objects shouldn't dictate our happiness, but we let them. Like this documentary states, we get trapped in the mindset of "I hope I can one day be making 150k a year so I can afford X". There was a woman on this documentary who was diagnosed with MS and what she said really related to me. It was right at my time of diagnosis where I officially changed my mind set, greener living, healthier eating, exercising more and living with less and I promised I would do my best to continue down this path. But it shouldn't take a diagnosis or stressful event in our lives to realize we need to take care of ourselves.
I have never been Black Friday shopping because people turn into consumer monsters. Shoving, fighting, yelling, just to get an item that you probably wouldn't have purchased any other time of the year. It's not worth it, I don't need an item that bad! Yeah you can get great deals on items, but that just proves how high products are marked up for retail.
All stores are interested in is money and profit so that's exactly what their marketing is aimed at. Making you feel like you can't live without something so you go and buy it, use it a few times then it sits on a shelf or cupboard for years. I know because I used to be that way. Well no more, I have been going through a lot of our belongings and seeing what we can sell or donate. With the more stuff you own, the easiest option when you're done with it is to just throw it in the garbage, but landfills are overflowing and there are items that could easily be used for many years to come, we need to waste less.
Which brings me to my next point with clothing. Just the other day, we bought a new platform style bed which meant we lost the extra clothing storage underneath that we used to have, throwing us into a panic about where things will now go. I looked in our very small closet and thought, we need more space, but why? We already have all our clothes spread out in every closet of the house (and that's no lie). During this documentary they mentioned Project 333, a way in which you go through your closet and find out what 33 items you'd be able to live off of for 3 months. To me, this is genius and everyone should try! No more are the days where there's a clearance sale at Forever 21 and we go and "stock up" on 6 new maxi dresses because they're cheap so we "might as well, we won't get a better deal anywhere else". Chances are (if you're like me) you already have 5 more maxi dresses at home which get circulated and barely worn and sometimes forgotten. Fast Fashion needs to stop, it's an addiction. It's wasteful for the environment because these clothes are not made with quality in mind and when you buy that $5 T-shirt think of all the factors in making clothes and how much actually goes to the poor men and women making them in a sweat shop. Buy high quality more expensive items that will last much longer and can be mixed and matched to be worn with other clothes. Why own 3 pairs of the same style of shirts just so you don't have to do laundry as often?
I would rather be rich in travel, experiences, memories and relationships than in possessions and I have finally learnt this. I write this as I am waiting for someone to come and purchase some kitchenware I posted online that's been collecting dust for a while. If you think there is no way you could become a minimalist, here are a few tips on how to transition on step at a time that I have implemented :
|| Travel Light : I started doing this when Air Canada started charging $25+ for every bag you check in. You don't need 4 pairs of shorts for a week long vacation, I usually pack for half the time I'm staying and use clothes more than once!
|| Throw It Out : Not everything you don't need! Just things that have holes in it, or is damaged and you won't be able to fix even though you keep it on the chance that "you will make time to repair it". Remember to check if it's something that can be recycled first !
|| Rid Your Space Of Double Items : Why do we need 4 sets of table settings (plates, bowls, cups), Keep enough for the number of people you would entertain at a time. We had two toasters, why? Who the hell knows, donate one! This can be the same for hair appliances (yes ladies, we are all guilty of owning at least two hair curlers or straighteners).
|| Buy Quality over Quantity : I used to be the woman who was proud to say I could buy 6 items for the same price that my fiancé purchases 1! Sounds like a bargainer but in reality I was being sucked in, buying fast fashion over quality, needless to say his stuff lasts a lot longer than mine! This goes for any aspect of life, buy something that will last throughout the years and can still be donated for more years to come! Whether its furniture, toys or clothes.
|| Keep Your Pantry To A Minimum : Of course have enough food so your family doesn't go hungry, but when you see a sale on chips or junk that's "buy 4 for the price of 2" Don't do it. So many times people see a sale and think "i might as well buy this because I will use it eventually" and then sure enough it gets forgotten in the pantry till it's past expiration. Not only does this waste your money but it takes up space.
|| Watch Documentaries or Read : Watch The Minimalists, see that it's not just about getting rid of stuff, there's more to it.
There are trends popping up all the time and not everyone will be on board with the idea. However, this is one that as I come to understand it more and more, it really is a healthy and sustainable lifestyle, not only for my mental and physical health but for the environment too! It gives you more time with the ones you love without the stress of everything around you! What are some ways you're improving your lifestyle? Let me know in the comments below!