Life in Hong Kong flies by at the speed of knots.
It’s incredible to think that we’ve been here 10 months already and we’ve barely touched on the why/where/whats of our existence here. Last year you were all subjected to our ramblings about life in rural Korea – a challenging year in an extremely perplexing, often frustrating, surprisingly complex but overall thoroughly fascinating place. Our days were spent talking mostly only to each other, avoiding toxic pollution poisoning and frequenting a ghetto, run-down gym in between short work days of teaching unimpressed Korean children. Ahhh, memories.
Contrary to what we might have thought (or wished) in the darkest moments of our Korean teaching careers, we signed up for a further year of teaching here in Hong Kong. The job ad actually sounded too good to be true, especially knowing the nuts and bolts of how things can really be in the ESL world. Turns out it lived up to the advert, and we found ourselves working for a well-run, legally recognised English learning facility that actually gives a stuff whether kids are learning or not AND is quickly cultivating a reputation that is leading to astonishing growth. One thing (or many things, depending on how you look at it) that is much smaller than we anticipated, is the size of some of the kids we now teach. While in Korea our age range was between around 5 and 16, we now teach/entertain those eager learners from the age of 2.
We do teach them them stuff but we get to do it in a pretty fun way and some days we definitely feel like we’re paid to hang out, shoot the breeze and play with very capable, very, very funny kids for 10 hour stretches.
10 hour work days? Welcome to the Hong Kong work ethic. Everyone works hard but also plays hard, constantly, which plays a big part in the ferocious passing of time. Luckily, Hong Kong is a super-concentrated collection of everything from lush scenery…
to mind-messingly high structures packed close together…
with never a dull spot in between.
Best of all, the food here is incredible. Street food, tea houses, fine dining, chain digs, biggest, bestest, highest, Hong Kong covers all the grounds and we’ve been working hard to uncover as much as possible on our staggered days off (Thursday and Sunday – argggghhh).
Food is not the focus here today, however. We thought it pertinent to introduce you all to the neighbourhood where we live – North Point, described as ‘mixed-use urban area in the east of Hong Kong Island’ (thanks Wiki!).
Once ranked the most densely populated place on Earth, it has been squeezed a little bit down the list behind other Hong Kong greats such as Mongkok (most densely populated ‘suburb’ in the world) and Ap Lei Chau (most densely populated island in the world) to merely the most densely populated ‘residential’ area in Hong Kong. Maybe the world. It’s kinda hard to keep up! Whatever the story, it’s jam packed and mighty crowded.
Supermarkets in the area don’t come close to the freshness, the colour and the overall attractiveness of the produce found at these kinds of wetmarkets not to mention the fact its economical. Any cut of meat is hacked to order, a handful of chives is generally added free of charge to your vegetable purchase and fishmongers squabble and haggle loudly along the sidelines.
North Point is an area with a particularly rich immigrant history. Refugees from China started arriving early in the 20th century thanks to two big world wars cut to a little while later, the Chinese Civil War led to an influx of rich and middle class Shanghainese. The area was also once know as “Little Fujian” due to the large number of Fujianese residents, displaced by various political events and its still a place where you can hear the dialect spoken. And nowadays, if you listen really closely, sometimes you can also hear a distinctive Kiwi dialect being spoken in the areas around Fort Street…