Once again coming back to Hong Kong to spend Christmas and New Year holidays with family and friends. This must be my 25th visit in Hong Kong since Christmas of 1990 and always take a side trip elsewhere in Asia during my visit and this year we are heading to Cambodia on Christmas eve and it will be a very different experience there. The Xmas atmosphere is great in Hong Kong and the weather is warm compare to San Francisco, and so this is my annual escape from the winter in U.S and a time to relax, rejoice, and reflect.
Back in the days when I was a kid growing up in Hong Kong, I did not have a good impression about the city. It was crowded, polluted and very densely populated. I always hated the schools I went to and the education system was horrible. It was extremely competitive and my performance in school was way below the required standard. The teachers weren’t really doing the necessary teaching, and the entire system was about filling us with information for memorization purposes so we could perform well on exams and moving on to the next level. I saw no purpose of going to school or any points of learning because there were none. I was miserable but never shared with anyone in school or at home. I buried and kept everything to myself and felt miserable growing up in the family. Home life was absolutely a disaster to me and I hated it as much as I hated the school system. I daydreamed very often and thinking to myself what it would be like to run away from home and just survived on my own without having to deal with the family and those horrible teachers at school. I was so determined to doing it but never shared with anyone even til this day. I certainly like to open up more to people in the future. In short, I had a miserable childhood and many times I reached breaking points with the temptation to make hasty decisions. I needed a change and a start of a new life.
Having the opportunity of coming to United States at such an early age (15) was the best decision I made with the support from my father and he seemed to hesitate at the beginning but realized that it was absolutely necessary for me to do so for several reasons. 1) The future of Hong Kong was uncertain upon returning to China on July 1, 1997 as he did not trust the communists of how they would run the island. 2) The complexity within our family made him lose faith on how I would be taken care of in case his life cuts short due to his old age. ( we were 57 years apart ). He wasn’t healthy and hadn’t been for a long time. 3) I needed to be independent so he wouldn’t have to worry about me. I was delighted to have his support and very eager to starting a new chapter in my life. I was determined to do well in school and making sure that I wouldn’t disappoint him.
While everything seemed to be going well for me in U.S, his life cut short during my last year in high school. I was saddened by his death, felt hopeless without his guidance, and discouraged about my future. I realized ( at the age of 17) that taking care of myself without his guidance is no longer an option for me. I was confused, torn and frustrated with only one thing on my mind, ” got to keep going” and tried to make it in this world even though I didn’t have any faith in myself, but I kept paddling with the waves on a seemingly long journey, lost and all alone in the big ocean.
Today I appreciate the new chapter of my life in United States for many years. It sure seemed like a miracle from where I started, but at a price of endless struggles. When I first came back to Hong Kong, I still had vivid memories of all the unhappiness and the miseries of life in my childhood. I spent most of the time visiting old places that I used to hang out including my home and the school which is basically living in the past to bring back haunting memories.But I needed to face those memories and knowing that I am no longer affected by it, and that it shouldn’t haunt me anymore for I am now independent, strong minded, and very deterministic in nature. I have been back to Hong Kong almost every year at Christmas time for the past 20 years and have seen lots of changes taken place here. Most of the old buildings are gone and replaced by modern high rises. The underground transportation system ( MTR) is very efficient compare to the olden days when we had to travel by boats along with all the transiting in between to get to different part of the island. (MTR) these days made all the necessary connections and reduce the travelling time to minutes within the island. Huge shopping malls are everywhere with many new additions such as hotels and restaurants. Hong Kong is a very different world these days where it is no longer an unhappy place for me. I have erased most of those horrific memories over the years and each time I come back to Hong Kong, I get to see new changes, made new friends, and simply enjoy the new experience on this island of such diversity. Hong Kong has been a new chapter for me, a new world where I feel energetic and full of excitement and I don’t need to live in the past any longer. I buried those haunting memories for good.
Hong Kong has always been a fast paced society and these days it is getting even more so. It is one of the most expensive places on this planet when it comes to real estates. Cost of living is very high and so is the daily pressure for those who are trying to make a living in Hong Kong. I still don’t have any desire to live in Hong Kong for it is too crowded ( a population of 6 millions) , too densely populated and the air quality is not suitable for me. In addition, Hong Kong is such a trendy society where people have the urge of updating to the latest fashion, the gadgets as well as the use of slang within their dialogues. Most of the time they purchase items not for necessities, but rather keeping up with the latest trend. I am nowhere close to fit into this type of society, but hanging out here in Hong Kong for 2 to 3 weeks during Christmas time is definitely enjoyable. I get to see my friends perform music in upscale hotels, bars and night clubs. Food in Hong Kong is perhaps the best in the world from dining at hole in the wall places to some of the most exquisite restaurants which can break your bank account and the same thing is true for shopping. It is a wonderful city full of lively events and it is without a doubt, the place to go visit if you have never been to before. I am so glad that I have returned to this glamorous city in all these years to experience all of the changes, a new world, a place of joy, and to build wonderful memories with friends. There is no more sadness in me, no more haunting images from the old days for I have put it all behind me. Life seems like a rotating cycle, a learning experience. We laugh and cry, we cheer and tear, we rise and fall, we live and die. We all live to die, but a lot of people who died have not lived. I am so glad that I had not fallen into this category when I thought I should.
As Christmas is approaching, I am ready to celebrate with friends in this lively city of Hong Kong full of exciting events while planning for the New Year countdown. Here I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, another year of prosperity, good health, and many more wonderful years to come. As for me, I am thankful for the new chapter in Hong Kong and always treasure those magical moments spending with friends and surrounded by people who are happy while staying away from all the unnecessary dramas. Life is too short and I have to live it to the fullest. Having the opportunity to travel in all these years is a gift, but no gifts are free as there is always a price to pay. I will continue to pay a price for the kind of life I want to live but the main focus is to be happy without any regrets. I will continue to learn from mistakes but hopefully the struggles would not be as harsh as what I went through at a younger age. It is part of life and what makes it interesting. May we all continue with our journey of this wonderful life together and make the best of it while sharing the laughs and cries, the cheers and tears, the rises and falls, the ups and downs, all in a cyclic formality.
WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD IT CAN BE!
Cheers to all from HONG KONG and I sincerely wish you all the best.
and if you happen to understand Cantonese, there is a song from youtube which I posted under ” about David” and the song is about life in a cycle. A very good and meaningful song to me and hope you will enjoy listening to it too and find it meaningful as well.
Best wishes for the Holidays season!