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Hello, I’m Natalie and I’m a Hong Kong expat.
If you’d told me that I’d be writing that sentence this time four years ago, I’d have looked at you as though you were certifiably insane. Four years ago, I’d never lived outside of England, I’d never been to Hong Kong, in fact, I’d never even been to Asia. So how did I come to live 5,995 miles from London, my home city, in a place halfway around the globe? Well, it’s a short story involving tequila, a girl easily swayed by tales of weekends on boats and beaches and a fortuitously timed job offer. So in January 2009, I packed up my London flat, said goodbye to my friends and family and swapped the Tube and Tescos for dim sum and the Star Ferry. And I haven’t looked back since.
Hong Kong is everything and nothing that I expected it to be. It’s frenetic and buzzy; it’s bright lights and a jaw-dropping skyline; it’s chopsticks and Chinese opera mixed with cocktails and Louboutins. There are still remnants of the city’s English colonial roots: the LegCo Building with its grand, granite columns and archways; the British style post boxes which post-handover were painted emerald green; and the Foreign Correspondents' Club, a favourite with journalists since the forties. History and tradition sit cheek by jowl with slick, cutting-edge modernity. Towering steel and glass skyscrapers encircled by bamboo scaffolding, the perfect example of this.
But Hong Kong’s not just skyscrapers and concrete, a short cab ride and you’re hiking among green rolling hills, a short boat ride and you’re on a beach to rival those in Koh Samui. Hong Kong gives you a true mix of urban grit and untamed nature. It’s a cliché, but it really is a city that fuses East with West and the old with the new. For me, one of my favourite things about Hong Kong is the ability to have days filled with these contrasts. You can spend the morning on a junk boat bobbing on the South China Sea, the afternoon eating spicy seafood on a hilly green island and the evening drinking martinis in a sleek, glossy bar in Central looking out at the glittering urban landscape.
I’ve now lived on Hong Kong Island for just over three years and it has truly become my home. I live in Mid-Levels, a residential area that sits along the world’s longest escalator (invaluable when the heat and humidity rises and your daily commute becomes a hot and sticky half mile trudge up and down the hill). I work as a lawyer by day, and in the evenings and at weekends I try to fit blogging, writing and photography around hectic Hong Kong socialising. My Cantonese is embarrassingly basic, but the city's colonial past and large expat community mean that virtually everyone speaks English. So, even if you are linguistically challenged as I am, living and travelling in Hong Kong is very easy.
Many Hong Kong visitors tend to be in the city briefly. Here for a short stop-over to break-up a long journey to some other far flung destination; here for a weekend after a week crammed full of business meetings; or, here for a flash of neon and Western comfort while on a trip around Asia. It’s perfectly possible to see a glimpse of Hong Kong’s rich diversity in a weekend, it just takes a little forward planning and I hope that I can help with that.
I’m very excited to share my favourite Hong Kong spots and to try out new and unexplored places to share with you too. My aim is to let you into the secrets that make the guide book must-sees even better and to tip you off about the places away from the well-beaten tourist trail.
You can read more about my life in Hong Kong on my blog: 3badmice.com/
and follow me on Twitter @3BadMice
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