Hong Kong; The Formative Months.

Life in Hong Kong flies by at the speed of knots.

IMG_7886It’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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFast forward, quite literally, one year, five countries and countless distractions and we find ourselves finally having time to stop, breath and recap.

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.

photo (2)Yip, some of them are pretty miniature but they speak 3 times as many languages as we do.  Their language skills are also far superior to ANY of the 16 year old Korean students we taught.

IMG_8679 2013-08-31 17.15.56 2013-08-31 17.18.09

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…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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!).  IMG_7411

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.

IMG_8320IMG_9178IMG_9180The famous Hong Kong Island tram line rambles its way right through the streets of North Point, terminating bang smack in the middle of another great local feature – the Chun Yeung St Market.

IMG_9185A daily set up, this outdoor market is bustling right throughout the day and sells everything from pig intestines stuffed with egg to Hello Kitty backpacks.

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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.

IMG_9186 IMG_9189IMG_6573 IMG_6577 IMG_6578 IMG_6584North 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…IMG_9191IMG_8317IMG_8319

Categories: Hong Kong, Teaching, TravelTags: , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Aww, the kids are so cute! I taught a kid from Hong Kong at the summer school and his English was amazing – despite the fact that he was half the size of all the other kids 😉 Life looks chaotic but a lot of fun there!

  2. Wishing you all the best in HK! Soon, it’ll be Xmas and HK will be all decked out in lights and decorations 🙂

  3. Fantastic post – so good to hear about your life in Hong Kong (I only spent a few days there about 8 years ago but I loved it!) and to see the amazing photos. How weird about the staggered days off – what’s they reason for this? Strange school schedule?

    • I fell in love with this city the first time I visited it so its great to finally be living here!

      English learning centres like we work in operate 6 days a week so there always needs to be someone around to work. Everyone company-wide gets Sundays off but other than that its pot-luck as to what your other regular day off it. Its a plus because we only work 3 days at most before we get a break but it also really (REALLY) sucks cause one day doesn’t give you time to properly wind down…you start feeling like you’ve never left work. We’ve actually just finished a stint of 7 weeks/6 days a week so any day off at the moment actually feels like bliss again. I’m convinced we were born to be super rich and constant holiday but something hasn’t quite panned out yet…

  4. Ahhh the Bruce Lee statue, finally I can relax!

  5. Looks like you guys are settling in to your new city. I really didn’t get to see much of North Point other than to take those “ding ding” trams across town and pass by it. I think we went to the Western Market and hung around there for drinks in a swank area for the day. Good to see your experience with the kids is going great too! Cheers!

  6. Nice to see other kiwi’s calling this part of the island home. It is a fab area to immerse yourself in the REAL Hong Kong. If you see a short fat kiwi chick in your travels around the neighbourhood make sure to say Kia Ora coz it’s probably me! 🙂

  7. While I’m sad you two won’t be in Korea for our visit, I’m happy to hear the teaching gig is going much better for you there!

    • It would have been a blast to have shown you some of our little (weird) corners of Korea 😦 We’re sure you guys will have an amazing time though and we so look forward to hearing all about it after the fact. Its such a shame you can’t have a stopover in Hong Kong!!!

  8. Really happy to read that you’re enjoying HK. I think it definitely helps that your students are so cute!! Looking forward to seeing all the places you’re discovering (and have discovered already)…

  9. Is it weird that the first thing that truly stood out for me was the shirtless veggie guy? Lol. Sounds like you’re having a much better time with the teaching in HK; those little kids in the monkey masks are so cute!

  10. Great photos! Miss HK so much, especially the crazy chaotic markets. Never had the guts to try that shrivelly blood-sausage thing though. Nor the dried sting ray…

  11. Dear HJ,
    Really glad you are enjoying HK so much! You should seriously consider writing for travel media – I was so impressed by the enthusiasm in your writing!

  12. OMG those high rises put me in a cold sweat!!! Great street shots! Glad to hear you’re enjoying your teaching experience in HK!

    • The high rises definitely still blow our minds even after a few years in Asia. In NZ we have nothing like it at all…

      What’s extremely disconcerting at the moment is seeing faces appear at our 19th story window as they clad our building in bamboo scaffolding for maintenance work – creepy!

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