I’ve been having quite a few conversations with my friends in Beijing about moving to Hong Kong. It all started a couple of months back when I was chatting with my colleague in Hong Kong about staff turnover in our team. She said they were having trouble finding a replacement for a colleague who’s finishing her secondment in Hong Kong end of March, so it’d be great if I moved to Hong Kong and took over her projects. I’d be closer to our department head and much closer to getting a promotion in the near future. Because I didn’t see it coming, I was taken aback by her suggestion and gave a wishy washy answer that she interpreted as I’m open to moving to Hong Kong in the future.
I was in Hong Kong for 2 days this week for some meetings and training. Less than 24 hours passed after I touched down in Beijing before my Beijing supervisor informed me I was going to Hong Kong again in early April for a regional meeting. My colleague was over the moon while I sulked after hearing this news. 2 trips to Hong Kong in less than 2 weeks! I couldn’t help wondering if this was all part of my colleague’s ploy to get me to transfer to the Hong Kong office.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve always enjoyed my previous visits to Hong Kong, be it a visa run or a work trip. The humidity is great for my skin, my friends there always take me to the best places to eat and drink, the shopping’s great and it’s nice to get unimpeded access to Facebook, Twitter, BBC and whatever website’s blocked in China. I’d even think about moving to Hong Kong 6-7 years ago, but ended up in Prague instead.
After Prague, I moved to Beijing in late 2010. In the past four years, I’ve seen more and more colleagues and friends leave Beijing for Shanghai, Hong Kong or their home country, citing the capital’s increasing pollution as their primary reason to move. There’s been days when I’d wake up, look out the window, see nothing but a greyish/brownish shroud and start entertaining thoughts about leaving Beijing. These thoughts would grow in urgency if the pollution persisted for more than two days, probably because I start getting depressed after not seeing the sun for a while. And just when I’d decide I’ve had enough, the wind would blow, the rain or snow would fall, transforming Beijing into this:
Then I remember everything I love about living in Beijing: cycling on wide cycling lanes, Chaoyang Park, great hiking up the Great Wall, straight-talking, down-to-earth and nutty locals, the hutongs, my interesting, off-the-wall expat friends, politics, history, culture….
And my thoughts of leaving Beijing would once again be shelved into the deep recesses of my consciousness.
Hong Kong will just have to wait another day.