A travel tell-all with Kate Springer.
Do you ever get the feeling that there’s simply no space for you in Hong Kong? Like you don’t fit on the bus, on the sidewalk, in a coffee shop — and you certainly don’t fit on the MTR?
The constant squeezing, pushing and shoulder rubbing in this dense city makes wide open spaces the most appealing kind of holiday.
Maybe my craving for elbow room is because I grew up in a rural/suburban area in Pennsylvania, where there are big open fields, Amish farms and a grain silo as the highest building around. Actually, I heard a “skyscraper” opened up “downtown” that’s like six stories and has a rooftop. So that’s something!
Moving to Hong Kong was a culture shock in many ways. Over the course of four years, I’ve adjusted to many things: freezing cold offices and shops, dining out in malls, pushy grannies, Britishisms, and even the lovely smell of durian. But I still can’t get over the proximity to other people.
When coming back from places like Australia, I feel refreshed. There’s so much land! Wide open roads! Empty vineyards! But not too long after, I’m back to dreaming of big open farmland, rolling rice paddies, deep canyons, empty forests, and vast endless deserts.
An abandoned island? Sign me up. An evacuated city? Show me how to get in. A vacuous triangle in the middle of the ocean? I’ve always wanted to go to Bermuda! The fewer the people the better, if you ask me.
It’s kinda depressing, actually, that I feel like I constantly have to escape this city and recharge, just to keep on living here. But I don’t think I’m alone — it seems like a lot of people feel overwhelmed by Hong Kong’s fast-paced nature and crowded streets. It’s hard to keep up sometimes, even for the most acclimated urbanites.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m obsessed with this city and love the vibrant streets, delicious food, and endless possibilities. Another perk of course is the ability to travel and explore so many different cultures within a close radius, where you can get pretty far off the beaten track on a big or tiny budget. But even if you find an empty coffee shop or a barren beach, it’s never yours alone for long.
Just as you’re smiling to yourself gleefully, not a soul in sight, someone comes and puts their towel right next to you.